It wasn’t an unprecedented defensive play like the rare 1-2-5 double play that bailed the Orioles out of Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium, but the call that cost the O’s a run in the fifth inning Monday night was another in a series of strange twists that have impacted the team for better or worse over the past four days.
Jones came up with the bases loaded and hit a comebacker to Toronto Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ, who threw the ball to catcher Russell Martin to get a force play at the plate. Martin then threw the ball toward first base, but his throw caromed off Jones’ back and bounced into center field to allow a run and, apparently, tie the game at 2.
That is, until home plate umpire Chris Segal called Jones out for running inside the base line, ending the inning and taking the run off the board.
Manager Buck Showalter argued the call, since Jones had taken a path that returned him to the baseline by the time the ball hit him, but he clearly had spent most of his trip to first base inside the chalk line.
The string of unusual plays began in the sixth inning of Friday’s 14-inning victory over the Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton was caught in a rundown and ran past third base, which appeared to result in a double play because O’s catcher Caleb Joseph tagged Gary Sanchez at third before catching up with Stanton.
The umpires ruled that only Stanton was out, but the crew chief admitted after the game that they made a mistake. It didn’t have an identifiable impact on the game because the Yankees did not score in the inning.
The next weird play would have a huge impact on that same game. The Orioles would have lost the game in the 11th inning on an apparent wild pitch by reliever Mychal Givens, but the ball bounced back to Joseph, who flipped the ball to Givens, who slid in front of baserunner Didi Gregorius to keep him from scoring.
That play was reviewed to determine if Givens had illegally blocked the plate, but there shouldn’t have been any question since only the catcher is restricted from blocking the plate on a defensive play.
Of course, the most unusual play was that 1-2-5 double play that saved the O’s after the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the 12th inning of Sunday’s game.
How unusual was it? It was the first time in Orioles history that anyone had turned a 1-2-5 DP, which means it could not have been more unusual if Tim Beckham had caught the relay from Joseph standing on his head.
Compared with all that, Jones getting thrown out for running inside the baseline — even with a run hanging in the balance — seemed almost commonplace.