What a trip: Obstruction call gives Cardinals Game 3 win over Red Sox
“With the defensive player on the ground, without intent or intent, it’s still obstruction,” Joyce said. “You’d probably have to ask Middlebrooks that one, if he could have done anything. But that’s not in our determination.”
Craig kept scrambling.
“He was in my way. I couldn’t tell you if he tried to trip me or not. I was just trying to get over him,” he said.
Left fielder Daniel Nava retrieved the ball and made a strong throw home, where Saltalamacchia tagged a sliding Craig in time. But plate umpire Dana DeMuth signaled safe and then pointed to third, making clear the obstruction had been called.
“I was excited at first because we nailed the guy at home. I wasn’t sure why he was called safe,” Middlebrooks said.
“We’re all running to home to see why he was called safe. We didn’t think there was any obstruction there, obviously. As I’m getting up, he trips over me. I don’t know what else to say.”
Said Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday: “You hate for it to end on a somewhat controversial play.”
“You would like for it to end a little cleaner, but that’s part of it,” he said.
Joyce and crew chief John Hirschbeck said they’d never seen a similar game-ending play.
A neat coincidence, though: In 2004, umpire Paul Emmel called obstruction on Seattle shortstop Jose Lopez, ruling he blocked Carl Crawford’s sightline and giving Tampa Bay the game-ending run. Emmel was the first base umpire on this night, too.
The umpires all agreed Joyce got it right. Until now, he was best known for making an admittedly wrong call in 2010 that denied Detroit’s Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
Game 4 is Sunday night, with Clay Buchholz starting for Boston against Lance Lynn.
To some Cardinals fans, the call meant long overdue payback. They’re still smarting from Don Denkinger’s missed call that helped cost them the 1985 World Series.
To some Red Sox fans, the tangle might’ve brought back painful memories from the 1975 World Series. In Game 3, Cincinnati’s Ed Armbrister wasn’t called for interference by plate umpire Larry Barnett when he blocked Boston catcher Carlton Fisk on a 10th-inning bunt. Fisk made a wild throw, setting up Joe Morgan’s winning single.
Craig returned for this Series from a sprained left foot that had sidelined him since early September. After an awkward slide on the final play, he hobbled off the field in apparent discomfort.