Baltimore Orioles: Playing under protest?

For only the third time in history, the Orioles beat C.C. Sabathia last night. They’re now 3-16 against him lifetime. However I suppose that for the time being last night’s 5-2 win over Sabathia and the Yankees is the one that counts. Sabathia wasn’t horrible…but he certainly wasn’t great either. From his standpoint it was one of those “in-between” starts. On the other hand, Wei-Yin Chen was lights out. I noticed last night that Chen has a heck of a curve ball. His fastball is probably his best pitch, however when he needs to get out of an inning or a situation he can easily rely on his curve or even a backup slider.

Chen gave up two runs in the game, and they should have and could have been considered disputed. Curtis Granderson hit a shot to left field with a runner on. Oriole left fielder Xavier Avery appeared to have the ball taken away from him by – get this – a Yankee fan sitting in the stands. I guess my issue is first off why Buck Showalter didn’t come out and demand a review. Secondly, the umpiring crew themselves had to have seen what happened, or at least that there was a potential issue. Why didn’t they decide to go to instant replay on their own? This was shades of Jeffrey Maier taking the ball away from Tony Tarasco in the 1996 playoffs.

Again, in my opinion Buck Showalter should have been out there screaming. After the game he said that “we had a call where we didn’t get much cooperation.” Be that as it may, part of that might be the result of Showalter not attempting to go out there. In fairness the Orioles still won the game, and for the most part I agree with Showalter’s in-game decisions. However this does bring up an interesting point; could the Orioles have played this game under protest? That’s a concept that does still exist in major league baseball, however it’s only allowed when a manager thinks that an umpire is interpreting a rule incorrectly.  In essence, a judgement call is not “protestable.” So that means this play would have been out, right…?

Buck Showalter - Image Courtesy of USA Today…maybe not. Had Showalter demanded a replay and gotten it, the umpires could have still ruled in NY’s favor. (Showalter also said that he didn’t go out there because he knew what the answer would be. He didn’t specify if he knew they wouldn’t review it or if they would review it and not overturn it however; but that comment was interesting to me.) They could have said that in their interpretation Avery wouldn’t have caught the ball. However the fact remains that the fan reached over the fence. That’s fan interference, right? Survey says: absolutely.

In order to play a game under protest the manager must tell the crew chief he’s doing so prior to the next pitch being thrown. The umpire then records the fact that the team is playing under protest, and the manager has until noon the following day to file a formal protest with the league. They’ll review it in the league offices, and if the commissioner feels that the umpire’s interpretation was wrong he can order the game replayed from the moment of the disputed call. Here’s the thing in this case though; the Orioles won the game anyways, so had Showalter done that the protest would have been dropped. However it’s an interesting concept that isn’t seen much any longer in major league baseball.

While Adam Jones hit a solo home run in the second inning, this was a game where the O’s were able to score mostly without the long ball. The coud de grace for NY was Adam Jones scoring from third on a passed ball. Aren’t those things that normally happen to the Orioles against teams like NY? I suppose the Yankees got their little stroke of luck with the Granderson homer. The one nervous moment came in the 8th when Pedro Strop came on in relief and appeared to be a bit shaky. Strop walked the first two batters and appeared to be nowhere near the strike zone. However he was able to get Nick Swisher to ground into a fielder’s choice, and then Robinson Cano grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The Orioles flew out to Kansas City after last night’s game, where they’ll be for all of a day-and-a-half or so. They play the Royals tonight at Kaufman Stadium at 8 PM (EST) with Tommy Hunter getting the start. Hunter as we know has been somewhat suspect in his last few starts, however he gets another chance tonight against a team that’s struggled at home. Oriole bats will be facing Felipe Paulino of Kansas City. The O’s will head back to Kaufman Stadium on Thursday for a 2 PM (EST) matinee, before flying to our nation’s capital to open up a three-game set with the Washington Nationals for the weekend.

The Orioles remain tied for first place with Tampa in the AL East at the moment, and they’ve just completed perhaps the most grueling part of the schedule. Over the last 15 games (where they played NY, Boston, Tampa, and Texas),  the O’s finished 9-6. Many people figured that they had a great start but that the stretch in May might be what did them in. Now on the other end of that 15 game stretch, those people appear to be wrong. Not even a botched fan interference call could do them in!

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala

Topics: Buck Showalter, Orioles

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