Check swing call benefits Indians, hurts Marlins

Miami appears to get strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out DP, but umpires rule Kipnis held up

Check swing call benefits Indians, hurts Marlins

CLEVELAND -- A vehemently disputed judgment call preceded three Indians runs in the bottom of the first inning of a 6-2 win over the Marlins on Friday night at Progressive Field.

Indians designated hitter Carlos Santana drew a five-pitch leadoff walk against Marlins starter Andrew Cashner. Second baseman Jason Kipnis worked a full count and Santana broke for second on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, a 95-mph fastball. Kipnis tried to check his swing on the pitch, but appeared to attempt at the ball.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto threw down to second base, where his throw clearly beat Santana for what appeared to be a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. Kipnis put his head down after the pivotal pitch, but home-plate umpire Nic Lentz did not rule him out, and instead looked to third-base umpire Andy Fletcher.

"Nic Lentz, who's behind the plate, obviously he doesn't see it," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "And then he's checking with Andy Fletcher down at third, and I think Andy must have gotten caught off guard, because the bat's pointing to center field. When I [saw it on replay], it really made me sick to my stomach. I mean, we've got a young team that's fighting for a playoff berth, and we feel like we've got to win every game in September.

Mattingly on controversial call

"I mean, Kipnis is walking back to the dugout. He's ready to go back to the dugout. It not only cost us three runs, it probably cost us 20 pitches on our starter. It changes the whole game."

Before calling Santana out at second, crew chief Joe West appropriately waited on Fletcher, who apparently was looking toward the action at second, and therefore, was in no position to weigh in on whether Kipnis' bat crossed into the hitting zone. Fletcher ruled that Kipnis checked his swing, to the shock of Mattingly, who exchanged words with the umpiring crew from the top step of his dugout.

"There's no way he was watching and did not see that," Mattingly said. "That's impossible."

Instead of two out and no one on base, there were two on and none out. Francisco Lindor then singled to load the bases, setting up a walk by Mike Napoli and forceouts by Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall, each of whom drove in runs to stake the Indians to an early 3-0 lead.

"There are some times when you disagree with the umpires where you think you held," Kipnis said. "Anytime I think I have held and the guy says I went, I'll go back to the dugout and ask guys on our team, 'Did I go?' before I argue. And they will be like 'yeah' or 'no.' We got video, we will know soon enough if we went or not.

"I didn't ask anyone tonight. It's not my job to ask anybody or do anything. It's my job to walk to first on that one and win a ballgame."

"I didn't realize it was as bad as it was until I saw a video of it," Cashner said. "Pretty incredible. It changes the whole game. That's one of the worst calls I've seen."

Marlins first-base coach Perry Hill was later ejected in the ninth inning after a dispute with first-base umpire Mark Ripperger.

"He got tossed for complaining about Andy yelling at [third baseman Martin] Prado about us going to the mound," Mattingly said. "Complaining about us going to the mound there, because we're trying to keep them from scoring. We're down four. We're trying to keep them from scoring again. But obviously that doesn't matter either. ... God forbid that we complain about a call, because I guess it just doesn't matter."

A checked swing is not reviewable in the current replay challenge rules.

August Fagerstrom is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Marlins on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.