DETROIT -- What was already an unusual afternoon for the Red Sox -- with a series-opening Thursday matinee against the Tigers at Comerica Park -- became a little more strange after a near-catch by Jackie Bradley Jr. that was initially ruled an out and overturned to a single after a Tigers challenge.
Bradley, who made a highlight catch here last August, came close to another in the second inning in Thursday's eventual 4-3 loss to Detroit. With no outs and J.D. Martinez on first, Bradley had a read on Casey McGehee's liner to right-center and got his glove on the ball with a diving attempt. However, the ball bounced away and hit the ground as Bradley slid.
First-base umpire Jerry Layne ruled it a catch. Second-base umpire Brian O'Nora, however, initially ruled it fell in. Martinez, who took off from first base on a hit-and-run play, was already around second and had to scramble back to first. Bradley, knowing he hadn't caught it, threw to second for a forceout before shortstop Xander Bogaerts tried to double up Martinez at first as McGehee watched from beyond the bag.
The confusion continued. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus challenged the play, but umpires conferred before going to replay review.
"If we could've fixed it without going to replay, that's what we were trying to do," crew chief Layne told a pool reporter. "Nobody could tell. So make them challenge if they think that we've done something wrong."
All the while, Ausmus stood at home plate, arms folded. Upon replay, it was obvious Bradley didn't catch it. The second part of the review was trying to place the runners.
"I challenged the catch. They say no catch," Ausmus said. "Now the replay officials have to place the runners where they think the runners would be, based on the overhead [view], where they were."
Since Martinez was running on the pitch, Ausmus believed he should have been on third. However, he can only challenge the catch, not the placement. The latter is the replay crew's discretion.
After a one-minute, 40-second review, the catch was overturned and Martinez was placed at third base.
"I thought that's how the play should've been," Ausmus said. "J.D. would've been on third, in my opinion. He was running on the pitch. The Red Sox may have had a whole different issue with it."
Red Sox manager John Farrell, who had come out of the dugout to speak with the umpires before the challenge, emerged a second time to seek further explanation.
"I still don't have an explanation. We go from a potential double play to a first-and-third situation. I still don't buy it," Farrell said.
The extra base put runners at the corners with one out for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whose fly ball to center scored Martinez for a 1-0 Tigers lead.
One pitch before Saltalamacchia's sacrifice fly, Red Sox third-base coach Brian Butterfield was ejected for arguing from the dugout. Layne said Butterfield was arguing balls and strikes.
Butterfield's seventh career ejection was his first since July 6, 2014. First-base coach Ruben Amaro replaced Butterfield at third.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.