Game Day

One at-bat changed the complexity of an entire game

CLEVELAND – It’s the bottom of the sixth inning, the New York Yankees have a comfortable lead over the Cleveland Indians, 8-3. Unpredictably, probable Cy-Young winner Corey Kluber was shelled for six earned runs and the Yankees were sitting pretty, poised to tie the American League Division Series at one game apiece.

Lonnie Chisenhall stepped into the batters box against Yankees’ reliever Chad Green with runners on second and third base, two outs. Green immediately put Chisenhall behind in the count, firing two strikes, but the lefty hitter was able to foul off a few pitches to stay alive in the at-bat.

On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Green threw a 96 MPH fastball inside on Chisenhall, which home plate umpire Dan Iassogna determined hit the batter. Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi had the opportunity to challenge the call, but ultimately failed to do so. After further review, it was clear that the ball did not hit Chisenhall, it hit the knob of the bat.

The pitch clearly hits off the knob of the bat.

With the pinch-hitter Chisenhall advancing to first base, Francisco Lindor made his way to home plate. The Indians’ star shortstop mashed a grand slam to bring his team within a run, and suddenly, it was a ballgame again.

The Indians went on to win this game in extra innings, 9-8, and instead of the Yankees heading back to New York tied at one they face elimination. This clearly raises a question for the MLB as to whether or not they need to review more plays like this, regardless of a challenge.

The NFL implemented a rule to review all scoring plays in 2011 and this particular situation is one that, perhaps, could have been avoided had this rule been in effect. Obviously no run scored on the hit-by-pitch, but that at-bat ultimately determined the game. Instead of the Indians heading back to the dugout down 8-3 at the end of six innings, they hit a grand slam and ended up trailing just 8-7 because Chisenhall was allowed to reach first base.

Girardi said postgame, “There was nothing that told us he was not hit by the pitch… by the time we got the super slow-mo we were a minute into the challenge, probably beyond a minute.” It is evident that this replay system has its flaws, therefore, anytime it is debatable whether a batter was struck by a pitch or not, it needs to be reviewed.

The Yankees will try and claw their way back out of a 2-0 deficit when they take on the Indians Sunday night in New York.

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