Seventeen final thoughts after another chapter is written in the ‘Just When You Think You’ve Seen It All in Cleveland’ book.
1. Perhaps the Indians wouldn’t have rallied from a 6-2 deficit in the seventh inning against Reds All-Star right-hander Johnny Cueto. But no one was out, one run was home and momentum was on the Indians' side until one of the most bizarre plays I’ve seen in 37 years as a sports writer snuffed it out when a ball came out of the Reds bullpen.
2. In the bottom of the seventh, an RBI double by Yan Gomes had scored Lonnie Chisenhall and sent David Murphy to third base. Murphy had his back to the ball and third base coach Mike Sarbaugh was telling him to stay at third, yelling “Right here. Right here.” But then Murphy saw a ball in the outfield and said he thought to himself, “I can make it.”
3. That wasn’t the live ball. It was a ball that had gotten by the Reds’ bullpen catcher and rolled into the outfield. Murphy headed for the plate before he realized something was wrong, then dove back to the base. He was tagged out, 9-4-6-5.
4. Instead of runners on second and third with nobody out, the Indians had a runner at second with one out.
5. Indians manager Terry Francona came out to take to third base umpire Gerry Davis, the crew chief.
6. “His explanation was right on. It wasn’t fun to hear,” Francona said. “I thought I saw what I saw, but they can’t kill the play until the conclusion. I understand the rule. They said, ‘We understand your frustration. There’s nothing we can do.’ I went and watched it again and at the exact moment, their right-hander, their catcher was up and they heaved it over his glove. It was like perfect timing. The responsibility falls on our coaches or runners. Sarby told Murph to stay there. But if you’re Murph and you’ve got your back to the play when it happens, no matter what Sarby tells you, when you see the ball laying there, you know they can’t throw you out. It was unfortunate and kind of fluky, but that’s the way it goes.”
7. Asked if he thought that was the start of a rally, Francona said, “Ooh, that would have been a really nice time to have second and third and nobody out. It would have been terrific.”
8. Murphy said players are taught two things – “listen to the base coach” and “find the ball.” In this case, the two collided.
9. “As a player, I personally hate making outs on the bases, especially in a situation like that," Murphy said. "But I’m not kicking myself because what do I do? At the end of the day I’m a bad listener and I should have listened to Sarby. You try to use your instincts as a player and my instincts said, ‘You can make that. Go ahead.’”
10. Murphy feels like the play could lead to a change in the rule. “I think the play could be reviewed,” he said. “It would be one thing if I was rounding third and I was going to go. But he told me to stop, I was basically on third and I feel like the momentum of the play had died.
11. “I look up and I see the ball out there and I’m like, ‘OK, what’s going on here?’ We don’t have time for me to turn around and be like, ‘Where did that ball come from?’ Or him to be like, ‘There’s two balls on the field. There’s two balls on the field.’ It’s just like boom, boom, boom. My mind is playing tricks on me because I’m like, ‘He’s telling me to stay, but I think I can go. What do I do?’ Then I take off and I’m like, ‘This just doesn’t add up. That’s probably not the ball.’ Then I dive back and I’m out. Yeah, crazy.”
12. Murphy was thankful it was not a close game. “Obviously the timing of it and everything was crazy and bizarre and the situation was unfortunate. I’m sure nobody’s really seen anything like that before,” he said. “Seeing that, a team could think about that now. Teams play the game the ethical way, but maybe there needs to be a rule instituted. The momentum of the play was basically over, then I see the ball there, that’s not a live ball and I go. Fortunately it ended up being a lopsided game. If that’s a one-run game, we have second and third with no outs and we’re trying to mount a comeback. That happens, an out like that kind of kills it."
13. After the play, Chris Dickerson grounded out to second and Jose Ramirez flied out to right.
14. Murphy said he didn’t watch the replay because he didn’t need to. The only thing he didn’t know was where the ball came from. He was quickly told it came from the bullpen.
15. When he went out to right field in the top of the eighth, Murphy said he yelled to the Reds bullpen, “Good job.” Asked if they said anything back, he said, “No. We didn’t really have time to have a conversation.”
16. Francona said he’s seen balls come onto the field before. “All the time,
like skipping off the catcher,” he said. “Not at the exact moment, not the same angle, that looked like a pretty decent throw. I’ve never seen that.”
17. Asked if he was suspicious one of the Reds relievers had thrown it into the outfield on purpose, he said, “No. If they’re that good, they deserve it.”