BOSTON — The baseball gods giveth and taketh.
During a pivotal Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox were locked in on an extra-inning battle.
Tied 4-4 at the top of the 13th inning, Kevin Kiermaier stepped up to the plate with a chance to bring in Yandy Diaz and take the lead. What happened next was a heartbreaker for Rays fans.
Kiermaier came in clutch, smacking a ball off the right-field fence in Fenway Park. The ball would then skip off the ground and deflect off outfielder Hunter Renfroe's hip, landing over the fence.
Since the ball was no longer in bounds, the play was called a ground-rule double. Kiermaier would be allowed to advance to second base and Diaz to third.
Sounds like a great outcome, but there was just one problem. By the time the ball ricocheted off Renfroe's hips, Diaz was trotting towards home plate, and Kiermaier was well on his way to third. Had the ball stayed in play, it would have been 5-4 Rays with Kiermaier on third.
Instead, both men were called back, and the momentum-shifting play was squashed.
The Rays would not be able to bring either man home, keeping the score tied. Later, in the bottom of the inning, Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez would hit a walk-off two-run home run, giving Boston the win and placing Tampa Bay on the brink of elimination.
The call has many fans outraged; but sadly, for the Rays, it was the correct call to make.
According to Major League Baseball, the umpires referred to official baseball Rule 5.06(b)(4)(H) for their ruling. It says, if a fair ball that is not "in flight" deflects off a fielder and goes out of play, then the batter is awarded two bases "from the time of the pitch."
Since the ball hit off the wall before coming into contact with Renfroe, it was no longer "in flight."
Tampa Bay now finds itself down 2-1 against the Red Sox in the ALDS. The team will be fighting for their season during Game 4 on Monday.