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Rays find it ‘incredible’ that rule worked to Red Sox’s advantage

“Heartbreaker” of a call on a ball that bounced off Boston’s Hunter Renfroe and over the wall cost Rays a chance to take the lead.
Red Sox rightfielder Hunter Renfroe leaps as the ball, hit by the Rays' Kevin Kiermaier, bounces over the wall for a ground-rule double during the 13th inning Sunday in the ALDS Game 2.
Red Sox rightfielder Hunter Renfroe leaps as the ball, hit by the Rays' Kevin Kiermaier, bounces over the wall for a ground-rule double during the 13th inning Sunday in the ALDS Game 2. [ MICHAEL DWYER | Associated Press ]
Published Oct. 11
Updated Oct. 11

BOSTON — The ruling by the umpires Sunday to not allow Yandy Diaz to score on the ball hit by Kevin Kiermaier that bounced off Red Sox rightfielder Hunter Renfroe and over a 4-foot wall at Fenway Park in the 13th inning did not sit well with the Rays.

“A heartbreaker, plain and simple,” Kiermaier said after a 6-4, 13-inning loss that put the Rays down 2-1 in the American League Division Series.

Though the Rays said they understood once the rule was explained (see below), they still didn’t think it was fair.

“Once I put two and two together, I’m thinking to myself, ‘Wait, that ball hit off the wall and hit off Renfroe and went over it. We have to get rewarded for more than just a ground-rule double,’ " Kiermaier said.

“I didn’t care If I stayed on second; that’s fine. But I was hoping to see that Yandy scored, because he would have easily, obviously. … The rules are in place. I can’t sit here and go against those. It’s incredible that it worked out to (Boston’s) advantage just like that.

“I played with Hunter, and he’s having such a remarkable year offensively and defensively, and everything he does is just turned into gold out there.”

The Rays' Kevin Kiermaier swings for a ground-rule double during the 13th inning Sunday.
The Rays' Kevin Kiermaier swings for a ground-rule double during the 13th inning Sunday. [ CHARLES KRUPA | Associated Press ]

The ball hit first off the wall, then off the ground, then off Renfroe and then went over the wall. Renfroe, who was with the Rays in 2020, said he knew the situation.

“I was actually going for the catch and happened to look up, and the wall was right there,” he said. “(The ball) hit the top of the wall, ricocheted off the ground, hit me in the right hip. Hopefully, thankfully, (it) bounced over the fence and they issued a ground-rule double.”

Manager Kevin Cash said there wasn’t much the Rays could have done; the rule is clear and Renfroe did not do it intentionally. Also, the umpires have no discretion to adjust the placement of the runner and allow the run, which would have put the Rays up 5-4, to score. The Rays then lost in the bottom of the inning on a two-run homer.

Umpire crew chief Sam Holbrook said the crew checked in to have the replay crew in New York review the play to make sure Renfroe did not deflect the ball intentionally because that would have fallen under a different rule. Otherwise it a “very textbook” ruling, albeit on an unusual, infrequently seen play, he said.

Also, “there’s no discretion that the umpires have,” he said.

Cash said he wished the rule did allow for discretion.

“Certainly in the moment — you can appreciate somewhat of a blanket rule, but we put a lot on these umpires, and now we’ve introduced video to umpires,” he said. “I think it would be a very easy call if somebody stepped in and said it was stating the obvious that (Diaz) was going to score. Saying that, it’s been a rule for a long time, and we’re going to play within the rules that are presented to us this season.”

At the least, it added to the disappointment of the night.

“It was just frustrating having to go back to (third),” Diaz said, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I personally think the run should have scored, but that’s the rule, and so that’s what happened.”

Rules are rules

Major League Baseball Rule 5.05(a)(8) that was invoked, putting Kiermaier on second base and Diaz on third following Kiermaier’s ground-rule double to right in the 13th inning:

“Any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases.”

For those wondering why Diaz, who took off from first before Kiermaier’s hit and was nearly at third when the ball ricocheted off Renfroe and went over the fence, wasn’t allowed to advance home, here’s why. From the MLB umpire manual, courtesy of ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

• If a fair fly ball is deflected in flight by a fielder and then goes out of play outside the foul lines, the award is two bases from the time of the pitch.

• If a fair ball not in flight is deflected by a fielder and then goes out of play, the award is two bases from the time of the pitch.

• If a fielder has complete possession of a batted or thrown ball and subsequently deflects or kicks the ball out of play, the award is two bases from the position of the runners at the time the ball was kicked or deflected.

• If a fielder has complete possession of a batted or thrown ball and drops the ball and it then goes out of play, the award is two bases from the position of the runners at the time the ball was dropped.

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