SAN FRANCISCO — As the bottom of the fifth inning ended Wednesday night, left-hander Taylor Rogers emerged from the Giants bullpen and jogged toward the edge of the infield, where umpire Jose Navas met him for in the routine examination of hands and gloves.
They stood there for a minute, and then Rogers turned and retreated to the bullpen and continued to warm up.
It was a rare sequence, but it was part of the one that won the game.
Rogers had to come back because the Giants challenged for the third out of the inning, and when they won, Rogers came in with four runs to defend, not one. It mattered to the Giants, who won 4-2, running their streak to 10 on a night when frustration boiled over for the preseason NL West favorite in another dugout.
Padres ace Yu Darvish appeared to get out of a jam in the fifth when Fernando Tatis Jr. hit 99 mph from right field to nail Blake Sabol at the plate. But the Giants challenged, arguing that catcher Gary Sanchez blocked Sabol’s path. After a lengthy review, New York officials agreed, giving the Giants a second run. They tacked on two more before Darvish got out of the inning.
After a third straight narrow loss in this series, the San Diego Padres manager said the overturned call was “one of the worst calls I’ve seen this year.”
“Someone has to feel involved for something like that. It’s a terrible call and it has an impact on the game,” he said. “The baserunner is already on the line to their dugout. At some point in time, you have to pick him up. The throw also brings him to the line.”
Melvin seems to have an argument on two fronts. The MLB rulebook states that “obstructing the path of a runner in a legitimate attempt to receive a throw shall not be considered an infraction.” The Padres felt Sanchez had been caught in the line with the throw, but the Giants countered that he could have passed the ball without blocking Sabol.
In 2014, MLB added an addendum to the rule stating that “the runner may still be called out if he is clearly hit by the throw.”
That part is up for interpretation, and Melvin said he didn’t get any kind of explanation for what the replay umpires in New York saw.
In the other dugout, the Giants clearly felt differently. As it happened, their bank believed that Sanchez blocked the plate. Yo Miyamoto and Patrick Yount, who oversee decisions in the video room, agree. The successful challenge was the league-leading 16th of the season for the Giants.
“There’s no obvious lane at the plate,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “The rule as we understand it is that if the catcher’s left foot is outside the line without the baseball, that he doesn’t provide a clear path to the plate for the baserunner. That’s what we saw in the video. That’s what it looked like. like in real-time, it looked like they got the call right (on the replay) but that’s just our interpretation.”
When the verdict came down, Melvin immediately came out to argue and was ejected. Ironically, the call came one night after Bruce Bochy was ejected from a Rangers-White Sox game for arguing the same thing. Bochy left after the game, saying he was “tied up.”
“It was one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen, and it was made on replay,” he said Tuesday. “I just don’t understand. I don’t care how many times they try to explain. You can’t do that in that situation.”
The Giants may have benefited from the misfortune of their old manager, because they felt that MLB could not call the game two different ways on consecutive nights. Maybe it will be repeated in the offseason, but this week, it benefited the White Sox and Giants.
As they often do during their longest winning streak of 19 years, the Giants took advantage of the opening. Mike Yastrzemski and JD Davis hit back-to-back singles once Darvish returned to the mound, extending the lead to four.
“You never know where the game is going to go, but at 1-0, Yu was out of the inning, and there were three more runs on the board,” Melvin said.
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After coming back in the late innings twice earlier in the series, the Giants kept going this time. Camilo Doval’s 20th save moved them to 10 games over .500, allowing them to throw another late night party in the clubhouse while their opponent floated down the hall.
“Obviously when you’re on a roll, good things happen,” Sabol said. “But at the beginning of the year we started out cold and felt like everything was against us. That’s just baseball.”
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