ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – After a disputed defeat Tuesday night, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is certainly no fan of baseball’s new rule on breaking up double plays.
“Maybe we’ll come out wearing dresses tomorrow,” Gibbons said. “Maybe that’s what everybody’s looking for.”
The recent change took all of three days to undoubtedly swing the outcome of a game this season, giving Logan Forsythe and the Tampa Bay Rays a 3-2 victory over Toronto that left Gibbons fuming.
With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder to third. After taking a throw from Evan Longoria for the force at second, Forsythe made an errant relay to first that appeared to allow the go-ahead run to score for Toronto.
Rays manager Kevin Cash asked for a replay review, claiming Jose Bautista violated the new “Chase Utley Rule” governing slides on potential double plays.
Replay umpires in New York ruled Bautista’s slide was not directly into the bag and it illegally hindered Forsythe. The call was changed to a game-ending double play that preserved Tampa Bay’s victory.
“It turned the game into a joke,” Gibbons said. “That’s flat embarrassing. That cost us a chance to win a major league game.”
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The call was overturned after a delay of 1 minute, 30 seconds. An announcement in the press box explained that the replay umpire definitively determined the runner violated rule 6.01 (j), that the runner’s actions hindered and impeded the fielder. It was also determined that Bautista did not engage in a bona fide slide, as he did not attempt to remain on the base.
“I feel like I respect the rule, that it was an absolutely clean slide,” Bautista said. “And it’s just disappointing to lose a major league baseball game, with so much at stake every day here. We put a lot into the game since we were little kids and then to all of a sudden have everything taken away like that is just strange.”
Major League Baseball recently changed the rule on such slides, hoping to prevent a repeat of the takeout by Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley that broke the leg of New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada during last year’s playoffs.
“It might be the first game that was a ‘W’ because of the double-play rule that’s in effect,” Forsythe said. “It was wild.”
“I felt something on the slide,” the second baseman added. “When I first saw him coming in, I thought he was going over the bag, but then I didn’t know if he kicked his foot out to try and catch a back foot. He kind of swung me around a little bit, the throw went a little left.”
Umpire crew chief Mike Everitt said to a pool reporter that he was told to limit his comments to what replay officials sent him. It was the same information announced in the press box.
“That’s it,” said Everitt, who declined to discuss the original call. “That’s what we got. It went to replay and that’s what it is.”
Forsythe hit an opposite-field, two-run homer in the eighth inning.
His drive off Brett Cecil (0-1) ended the reliever’s run of 38 straight appearances without allowing an earned run, dating to June 24. The left-hander’s stretch was tied with Craig Kimbrel (2011 with Atlanta) for the longest in the majors since earned runs became an official stat in 1912 in the National League and one year later in the American League.
Corey Dickerson homered for the Rays, who avoided their second 0-3 start (2011). Alex Colome (1-0) went the final two innings to get the win.
Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez, making his first start since June 5 and 12th overall, allowed one run, five hits and struck out eight over seven innings. He began 2015 in the rotation but went on the disabled list June 15 with a right lat strain. The right-hander moved into the bullpen after returning in July.
Bautista had been 0 for 13 against Jake Odorizzi before hitting a leadoff triple in the fourth. He scored when Odorizzi was charged with an error for a bad throw to the plate on Encarnacion’s grounder.
Encarnacion took second on the play and later scored to put Toronto up 2-0 on Michael Saunders’ single.
Odorizzi gave up two runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out 10 and walked two.
Dickerson pulled the Rays to 2-1 on his second homer this season in the fourth.
Steve Geltz got a fly ball from Encarnacion with the bases loaded to end the seventh.
Blue Jays: Saunders, limited to nine games last season due to left knee injuries, started for the third consecutive game in left field on the artificial turf at Tropicana Field.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) could throw off a mound next week.
Odorizzi won his season debut the previous two years with scoreless starts. He went 6 2-3 innings against Baltimore last season, and six innings against Texas in 2014.
The Blue Jays have struck out 36 times in the first three games of the four-game series. Chris Archer had 12 strikeouts Sunday for the Rays.
Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ and Tampa Bay LHP Matt Moore are the scheduled starters for the series finale Wednesday.