Phillies Lose in 14, Protest over Controversial Replay

Phillies Lose in 14, Protest over Controversial Replay

The Philadelphia Phillies will await a ruling from league office following their 14-inning 5-4 loss to the Florida Marlins Sunday afternoon. The game was finished under protest after a controversial video replay in the sixth inning. The league's decision has not yet been announced and a timetable for said decision seems unknown.

So, what happened?

With no outs and one on in the top of the sixth, Hunter Pence hit a ball within feet, if not inches, of the right field wall. Just as Marlin outfielder Bryan Petersen left his feet to make a play, two fans—one of whom was attired in a Phillies hat and jersey—reached over the wall to interfere with the ball. With Petersen prevented from making the catch, the ball landed safely on the warning track and bounced toward the right field corner, resulting in a double.

This is the point where things became, to borrow a Wheeler-ism, "goofy."

Following the understandable complaints of Marlins manager Jack McKeon, first base umpire Joe West left the field of play, sending the game into a 13-minute delay. Upon his return, West declared that Hunter Pence was to be ruled out as a result of the interference, and that base runner Ryan Howard, who had made it to third thanks to Pence's double, would be sent back to first.

Three batters later, Wilson Valdez grounded into an inning-ending double play, leaving the score at 2-2. From there, the Marlins would take a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a Jose Lopez single to right.

Continuing the chaos that started just one inning prior, Ryan Howard would retake the lead for the Phillies in the top of the seventh, scoring Shane Victorino and Michael Martinez to register his league-leading 105th and 106th RBIs of the season.

Unfortunately, Michael Scwimmer proved unable to hold the lead. Though he did work his way out of a bases loaded jam, Schwimmer nonetheless surrendered the game-tying run in the eighth.

Neither team would score in the ninth, extending the 4-4 ballgame to extra innings.

Attempting to make up for his not so enviable club-joining performance Saturday night, David Herndon pitched three straight innings of shutout ball in acid-reflux-inducingly spectacular fashion. The beleaguered reliever issued two separate intentional walks in both the 12th and 13th innings to load the bases with one out. On both occasions, he would stroll back to the Phillies dug out unscathed.

He was not so lucky in the 14th.

With the bases loaded for the third time in three innings, Herndon eventually caved, allowing, on this occasion, an UN-intentional walk to Mike Cameron to end the ballgame. Final score: 5-4 Marlins.

If you find David Herndon's performance impressive, or even just odd, consider that Herndon would record more intentional walks than innings pitched on Sunday afternoon (5 IBB in 4 IP). By himself, Herndon would cause the Marlins to strand 11 of their game total 23 runners left on base.

Yes. "Goofy."

Rules Surrounding the Phillies Protest
Following the West ruling, an incensed Charlie Manuel was quickly ejected, leaving Pete Mackanin to inform the umpiring crew that the Phillies would play the remainder of the game under protest. League rules stipulate that games played under protest can be restarted from the point of protest should the league find that an umpiring crew jeopardized the protesting team's opportunity to win the ballgame due to a violation of the rules. As Scott Franzke put it on the radio broadcast, "Well, it seems pretty clear that's exactly what we have here."
The outraged radio voice of the Phillies was referring to the fact that instant replay—in its current incarnation—may only be used to review whether or not a hit should be ruled a home run. Because Pence was originally ruled safe at second, and the play was never called a home run, the Phillies contend that West's use of instant replay was a violation of the rules, and that fan interference is not reviewable in scenarios not involving a boundary dispute.

Before we get too far into this, here's a friendly reminder from a post we did roughly two months ago regarding this same sort of of issue: "Dear Phillies Fans, Please don't reach into the field of play for any reason whatsoever. Ever." A--clowns.

Now that that's out of the way, we would provide for you a copy of the MLB instant replay rules, if we could actually find them. For whatever reason, the replay rules do not appear in the most recent copy of the MLB rulebook. That said, MLB.com has posted a video of the incident, which you can find here. If you have any more luck than we did finding the replay rules, we do encourage you to send them along.

Back to the protest, broadcasters Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler repeated multiple times throughout the game that "all bets are off" on the success of the appeal should West claim his intent was to review whether or not the ball left the yard. The umpire will be required to fill out a post-game report explaining his decision.

Well, what do you think? Did Joe West get the call right? Or was his decision a violation of the Major League Baseball rules governing video review?

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

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MIAMI -- For struggling pitchers, facing the Phillies has become like a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
 
Another rival pitcher searching for a cure got it Monday night when the Phillies suffered their 23rd loss in the last 29 games. This time it was Miami Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez. He pitched six shutout innings and allowed just three hits in leading his club to a 4-1 win over the Phillies, who fell to 6-20 in May (see Instant Replay).

Volquez had gone 16 starts between wins.
 
"Every loss stings, I don’t care who's pitching," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We're just in a rut. We've got to battle our way out of it. We have to show up tomorrow and get after it. We've got to get more than three or four hits in the game."
 
The Phillies had just four hits in the game. It was the fifth time in the last nine games that they've had four or fewer hits. Only one of the hits was for extra bases and one of the singles was an infield hit.
 
"Once again, we need more offense," Mackanin said.
 
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson completed a difficult month of May by allowing six hits, including a two-run homer, and four runs over six innings.
 
Hellickson surrendered a two-run homer to Derek Dietrich with two outs in the sixth and that was basically the ball game. Dietrich hit a high changeup. Back in April, that pitch would have been at the knees. But Hellickson has misplaced the pitch command that he needs to succeed.
 
Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April. In May, however, he went 1-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts. He was tagged for 35 hits, including nine homers, in 30 2/3 innings.
 
"Command in general," said Hellickson, describing his problem this month. "The biggest thing is not getting strike one, falling behind too much. I'm not getting the quick easy outs I was getting early in the season. I'm trying to get ahead, just missing."
 
Volquez signed a two-year, $22 million deal with the Marlins over the winter, but it wasn't until this game that he delivered his first win. He entered the game 0-7 with a 4.82 ERA in nine starts.
 
The win was Volquez's first since Aug. 25, 2016, when he was a member of the Kansas City Royals.

Volquez isn't the first struggling pitcher to shine against the Phils recently. Eight days earlier, Pittsburgh's Chad Kuhl took a 6.69 ERA into a start against the Phils and pitched five shutout innings. In the series against Colorado, the Phillies were dominated by a pair of rookies. In the only game they won (in a late rally), they were held to one run over six innings by Tyler Anderson, who had entered that game with an ERA of 6.00. On Friday night, Cincinnati Reds right-hander Tim Adleman pitched eight shutout innings against the Phils and gave up just one hit in the best start of his life. He had come into that game with an ERA of 6.19.
 
So Volquez had to be heartened when he saw the Phillies on the schedule.
 
They are the get-well team for pitchers in need of a pick-me-up.
 
It's actually kind of sad.
 
With Odubel Herrera locked in the throes of the worst slump of his life and on the bench and Maikel Franco mired in a 2 for 21 slump and hitting .209, Mackanin is trying to push things a little. He gave Aaron Altherr the green light to steal with one out and runners on the corners in a one-run game in the sixth inning. Altherr was out at second on a close play and Tommy Joseph struck out to leave the runner at third.
 
The Marlins salted the game away in the bottom of the inning on Dietrich's homer.
 
"With our offense, I have to take chances," Mackanin said. "I can't sit around and wait for three hits in a row. We haven't been doing that."
 
The Phils have the worst record in the majors at 17-32.
 
They have lost eight of their last 10 and scored just 15 runs in the losses.
 
"It sucks," catcher Cameron Rupp said. "There's really no other way to put it. It's frustrating. But the only people that are going to help us are ourselves. Nobody's going to go out there and play for us, swing the bats, pitch, play defense. That's on us and we have to do a better job all around.
 
"We all want to be successful and get the job done. We just haven't been hitting the ball. There's no other way to put it. But the good thing about baseball is we play every day so we turn the page and come back tomorrow and try to get it done."

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins rarely tested the hottest goaltender in the playoffs in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Nashville.

They beat Pekka Rinne anyway.

Rookie Jake Guentzel fired the puck past Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a back-and-forth 5-3 victory on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Matt Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in Final history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37 minutes at one point without a shot.

"I think at the end of the day we're up 1-0," Bonino said. "We had a good first, we had a terrible second and we were terrible in the third. I don't think it's Xs and Os. We've got to work harder, compete a little harder, but we got some timely goals."

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions, trying to become the first repeat winner since Detroit in 1998.

All the guys from "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

"The impact of that moment and then the chain of events that happened after that with the penalty kills I think changed the course of the game," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.

The decision gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge. Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead, they rallied and took over the game.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second and Nashville kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history -- and the first such period by any team in a Final game since the NHL began tracking shots on goal in 1958.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

"We didn't do a great job of (shooting), but we made them count," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "But it was a good finish there to get that one from Jake."