SAN FRANCISCO — Tyler Flowers had the ball in his glove in enough time on Wednesday afternoon to see Gregor Blanco running to the plate. Robin Ventura had long enough to determine replay officials would overturn what became a momentum-changing call.
When league officials did reverse the umpires’ original ruling, that Blanco was out at the plate, Ventura went ballistic. Within seconds, Ventura was in the face of plate umpire Chris Segal yelling, pointing and eventually kicking dirt onto home plate. Then he kicked some more dirt.
Ventura was incensed after umpires needed two reviews on the same play, one that swung momentum heavily in the direction of the San Francisco Giants, who used it to roll to a 7-1 victory over the White Sox at AT&T Park.
“You get to that point you’re sitting there and understanding it’s not going to go your way,” Ventura said. “You know the guy was out. Like (Tuesday), the guy was out by a lot. Umpires know it. Everybody knows it.
“In the spirit of playing baseball and what they’re trying to do with the rule, it changes a lot of stuff. It’s not doing what they intended it to do, which is protecting the catcher. The guy is out. That was never a question. I don’t know what else you can do.”
The 10th ejection — and easily the most animated — of Ventura’s career arrived after nearly seven minutes of delays. With runners on the corners, one out and the White Sox ahead 1-0 in the seventh inning, Joe Panik hit a weak grounder to Jose Abreu. Abreu fielded the ball cleanly and fired to Flowers, who easily tagged out the speedy Blanco.
But Giants manager Bruce Bochy eventually made his way to the field and asked umpires to review. After 4 minutes, 55 seconds and two rounds of warmup pitches by White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana, officials in New York ruled that Flowers had blocked the plate and Blanco was safe with the tying run.
A replay did show that Flowers’ left leg was in the base line prior to him receiving the ball, which is forbidden by Rule 7.13. But going back to spring training, Flowers has wanted more clarification on the experimental rule, which was implemented this season in order to avoid collisions at the plate.
“If you go by the black and white rule, I guess they got it right,” Flowers said. “But you also have to put into context.
“I had two seconds to get from behind home plate, catch a ball and make a tag, and I’m supposed to be able to make sure I don’t block the plate, catch a ball and make a tag, all within two seconds on an infield dribbler. It’s just not realistic.”
Up until that point, Quintana pitched a gem.
He pitched around a leadoff triple in the fourth inning without allowing a run as he retired 10 in a row. Quintana had retired the side in order in four of his first six innings.
But after Blanco was ruled safe, the White Sox went in the tank. Quintana recorded one out and then walked Joaquin Arias to load the bases.
Reliever Ronald Belisario came on and gave up three consecutive two-out singles to give the Giants a 5-1 lead. Then Adam Dunn dropped Pablo Sandoval’s fly ball when he and center fielder Leury Garcia nearly collided, allowing two more runs to score.
“I feel really good today,” Quintana said. “I have a lot of confidence in my stuff. But one play changed everything, and I got four runs. That’s crazy.”
Quintana — who was only at 82 pitches when the chaos began — allowed four earned runs, four hits, walked two and struck out seven.
The Giants’ outburst/White Sox meltdown made a winner of Jake Peavy for the first time since April 25.
Peavy, who improved to 2-12, gave up a lone solo homer to Dunn in the fourth inning. He allowed a run and four hits with three walks over seven innings.
Ventura challenged a similar play at the plate in the 10th inning of the White Sox victory on Tuesday night. He said he decided to ask for a challenge because the rule is “vague.” Ventura elaborated further on Wednesday and said umpires told him they didn’t rule a block on Posey on Tuesday night because it was clear that runner, Jordan Danks, “was out by a lot.”
Dunn agree with Ventura that the rule is far too vague. The slugger said he has never seen Ventura so excitable.
“It’s awful,” Dunn said. “I still don’t know what happened. They make these rules up and try to explain these rules that if you ask 25 guys in here, 25 different opinions. I don’t know what the rule is. Still don’t know what the rule is. Can’t block the plate. If you do block the plate you can run him over, right? So I don’t know. Stupid.
“Jose (Abreu) makes a great baseball. There’s two outs. Q’s pitching his ass off. Everything’s going great like it’s supposed to. Then you get this rule and it completely changes the whole game.”