No-call looms large in Atlanta's loss
Instead of Braves escaping jam, Yanks tack on crucial runs
ATLANTA -- After scrapping back to within one run of the Yankees with a two-run rally in the seventh, the Braves fell victim to some bad luck in the top of the eighth that allowed the Bombers to add some valuable insurance runs in their 8-4 win on Wednesday night.
Trailing, 4-3, the inning started ominously for the Braves and reliever Eric O'Flaherty. Johnny Damon tapped a grounder to first, but O'Flaherty was slow to cover and first baseman Casey Kotchman had no one to toss to.
Mark Teixeira followed with a single, and after a wild pitch, Alex Rodriguez was intentionally walked to load the bases for Robinson Cano with no outs. That's when things got hectic.
Cano hit a bouncer to first, and Kotchman threw home to retire Damon for the force out. Braves catcher Brian McCann then attempted to throw out Cano at first, with second baseman Kelly Johnson covering first for the double play.
However, Cano appeared to be running just on the fair side of the first-base line and McCann's throw hit him in the left shoulder and trickled into right field, allowing Teixeira to score and A-Rod to move to third. McCann was charged with a throwing error, and the Yankees' rally continued.
"I haven't looked at the replay yet, so I don't really know where the runner was or anything like that," McCann said. "I had to make the throw and try to get the double play, and I hit him right in the back. If I could take it back, I would."
Braves manager Bobby Cox came out of the dugout to argue before time was called on the field. He wanted interference called on Cano, which would have resulted in Cano being called out and Teixeira getting sent back to third base.
Cox conferred with home-plate umpire James Hoye and then with first-base umpire Bill Welke. He eventually called both umpires over to discuss the play, but the call was upheld.
"[Welke] said he wasn't inside the line," Cox said. "From the dugout, you really can't tell. But 99.9 percent of the time, they're inside of the line, within eight feet of the bag. It's a call we didn't get. That could have stopped a lot right there."
Instead of pitching with runners on second and third and two outs and no runs scored, O'Flaherty now had runners on the corners with just one out and one run in.
Nick Swisher followed with an RBI groundout that would have ended the inning with no runs allowed if interference had been called.
The Braves have been on the wrong end of similar plays a few times over the past few years. It seems as if each time, the calls have gone against them. Johnson was adamant that Welke made the incorrect call on the play.
"It's insane to me how every time that play happens, the play stands in a way that hurts us," Johnson said. "I don't know if anyone had a good angle on it. I thought it was blatant. He wasn't at the bag, he was in the cut. He wasn't within a step, it was obvious. That was a really big play, too."
Despite Johnson's fervent objection to the call, Cano agreed with Welke, and he didn't appear to think the play was even that close.
"I know I was fine," Cano said. "I was running on the baseline. I wasn't worried."
Adam Rosenberg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.