Red Sox tie up A's late after controversial call
Ump rules ball hit ground on Napoli's foul tip that would have ended 8th; Melvin ejected
OAKLAND -- Trailing by one run in the eighth inning on Saturday, the Red Sox caught a crucial break when home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott ruled that Mike Napoli's two-strike foul tip hit the ground before entering the glove of A's catcher Stephen Vogt.
Replays appeared to show that the ball thrown by Luke Gregerson -- in relief of starter Jesse Chavez's seven scoreless innings -- went directly into Vogt's mitt, but a protest by A's manager Bob Melvin did nothing to change the umpires' minds.
"[Napoli] tipped it, and I caught it," Vogt said. "I wasn't even worried about it [at first]. I heard him call, 'Foul ball' and you saw what happened from there."
The call was not reviewable, according to Section V of the Major League Baseball Replay Review Regulations, which states that "the umpire shall determine whether a purported foul ball landed in front of [a player's] position and thus is not subject to review. Such a determination by the umpire is not reviewable."
Gregerson's next pitch hit the dirt and rolled in front of Vogt, far enough away for Dustin Pedroia to scamper home from third and tie the game. Pedroia had grounded into a forceout and advanced to third on David Ortiz's single.
"To be honest, I wasn't paying much attention to where Pedroia was," Vogt said. "The ball got away from me, maybe two feet further than it should have, and he made a great read to go on first contact."
"He's got a pretty good slider, and I was just trying to read the ball in the dirt and get a good jump," Pedroia said. "I took a little gamble. It all depends on the situation. Righties are hitting .150 off him, so I tried to make something happen."
Wolcott subsequently ejected Melvin, who argued vehemently after Napoli flied out to right to end the inning.
"It was pretty simple," Gregerson said. "The ball had no scuff marks on it. It was an obvious catch, strike three."
But none of the umpires had the definitive evidence necessary to overturn the call.
"The plate umpire heard sound and thought the ball hit the ground and called it a foul ball," said crew chief Gerry Davis, who was at third base. "We have a procedure where if the base umpire has anything different, he signals to the plate umpire. Greg [Gibson] at first [base] did not have anything different."
"With the thing being back-handed, there was nothing I could do to help him," Gibson added. "I didn't have anything conclusive to change it. ... This type of play happens quite often, actually, it's a difficult call for us. And in order to change it we have to [be] positive."
Melvin recognized that the play was not reviewable, but he still had several bones to pick.
"[Vogt] caught it, and you can't review that play," said Melvin. "It's tough, but my feeling is that if there's a play that needs to be reviewed, we should be able to review it. We can't on that one."
Melvin also said he objected to the umpire speaking to Gregerson.
"I was objecting to [the umpire] speaking to my pitcher and then into further stuff," Melvin said.
The Red Sox failed to take advantage of the break, losing, 2-1, on a walk-off single by Coco Crisp in the 10th.
Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.