The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 in battle of National League playoff contenders on Friday. However, it was a play in the bottom of the seventh inning that has confused many watching the game.
With the Dodgers leading the Nationals 1-0, Adam Eaton recorded an RBI single to tie the game at one run apiece. Gerardo Parra, who was on second base, also tried to score and put the Nationals up 2-1, but was called out at home plate and the game remained tied.
There were a couple of controversies with the single play. The first centered around Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, and whether or not he blocked home plate. Nationals manager Davey Martinez believed he did and that Parra had no where else to go.
The second controversy is what Martinez was told by umpire Brian O’Nora. According to MASN Sports, Para could have avoided a collision with Martin by sliding. However Martinez’s argument is that Para had no room to slide because Martin was blocking the plate.
Major League Baseball put a rule in place that disallowed catchers from blocking the pathway for the runner to reach home plate. The intention was to make the game for safe and avoid collisions that have been commonplace in baseball at all levels throughout history. However, on this occasion, and in many other circumstances, it puts the catcher and runner in a difficult position and one that causes a significant grey area when it comes to the rules.
The Dodgers came back to win the game 4-2. Their win was highlighted by a three run by Justin Turner in the eighth inning, which put the Dodgers up 4-1 at the time. Then in the ninth, the Nationals had the bases loaded on a single, hit by pitch and walk as Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen struggled. Juan Soto then walked to score a Nationals run before Howie Kendrick struck out to end the game.
With the win, the Dodgers improved to 68-37 and continue to lead the San Francisco Giants by 14.5 games in the National League West. The Nationals fell 5.5 games back of the National League East Division leading Atlanta Braves, but are still tied with Chicago Cubs in the National League Wildcard standings at 55 wins and 48 losses.