Major League Baseball’s collision rule and expanded replay have created a gray area behind home plate. It left a lot of questions to be answered after Starlin Castro slid into Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez.
The Cubs caught a break during that fourth-inning sequence on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Starling Marte’s throw from left field clearly beat Castro, who still gave his team a four-run lead that would vanish in a 5-4 loss.
Home-plate umpire Mark Carlson told a pool reporter: “I didn’t have (Sanchez) violating any rules for the collision play. (Castro’s) foot touched the plate before the catcher had possession and control of the ball.”
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle walked out from the visiting dugout for an explanation from Carlson and told reporters postgame: “I chose not to challenge.”
“Because I chose not to challenge,” Hurdle said. “If I give you any other answer, we got 10 more questions.”
Castro – whose left-leg-first slide knocked Sanchez on his back – didn’t have an exact answer either.
“I don’t know if he called safe because the catcher blocked home plate before he got the ball,” Castro said. “I came inside and watched the replays and it looked out.
“It’s kind of like a bang-bang play. I think he bobbled the ball before it got in his glove. I think that’s the reason the umpire called it safe.”
Cubs manager Rick Renteria gave the thumbs-up sign to reporters in the interview room, but said he didn’t get any Castro details from Carlson.
“He called him safe – that’s all I know,” Renteria said. “As soon as he called him safe, that was good for us and we moved on.”
This experimental rule has enough room for interpretation that this won’t be the last time the Cubs will be involved in a controversial or confusing play at home plate.