NEW YORK -- A controversial call during the seventh inning of Thursday night's game between the Yankees and Blue Jays led to a rare reversed decision by the umpiring crew.
New York designated hitter Ben Francisco attempted to bunt for a base hit and was originally ruled out on a close call at first, but a few seconds later, the umpires converged and changed their decision.
The umpiring crew felt that Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion didn't make a clean pick on a throw in the dirt and changed the call to safe, which ultimately led to Toronto manager John Gibbons being ejected for the second time in as many games.
"We saw the ball on the ground, where the ground was assisting the ball staying in the glove while the runner went over the base, and it was after the fact that he pulled it up," said crew chief Jeff Kellogg, who was the second-base umpire.
"You've got to have secure possession in the glove or the hand. That ball is resting on the ground with the glove wrapped around the top of the ball."
The play started with Francisco attempting to take advantage of where Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was positioned on the field. Lawrie was playing deep, which prompted Francisco to lay down the bunt and attempt to beat it out.
The throw was low, and Encarnacion made an attempt to pick it out of the dirt but instead appeared to snowcone the ball. Francisco arrived almost at the exact same time as the throw, and first-base umpire Chad Fairchild immediately called him out.
Shortly after, Kellogg appeared to motion for the umpires to gather at the center of the diamond. Within a couple of minutes, the call was changed, and Francisco was awarded first base.
Gibbons disagreed that Encarnacion trapped the ball but appeared to be most angry over the fact that the umpires consulted with one another despite not being asked to do so by Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
"My big concern was that there was no appeal by the other side," Gibbons said. "I thought the rules say, you know, if there's an appeal by the other side, the umpire making the call can check. That's my interpretation of the rule."
Whether the correct call ultimately was made is up for debate, but Gibbons appears to have a point. According to the official Major League rules, the decision for the umpires to meet must be made by an appeal from the opposing team or by the person who originally made the call.
Rule 9.02 c: "If a decision is appealed, the umpire making the decision may ask another umpire for information before making a final decision. No umpire shall criticize, seek to reverse or interfere with another umpire's decision unless asked to do so by the umpire making it."
Kellogg didn't comment directly on that rule but said that Gibbons' biggest issue was whether the umpires were allowed to meet in the first place; Kellogg didn't seem overly concerned about that.
"Because they didn't argue it, [Gibbons] didn't think we should have gotten together about it," Kellogg said. "Our thought process is [that] we're going to try to get the plays right. That was it."
After angrily making his case and throwing his hat to the ground, Gibbons was tossed. The argument continued for several minutes before he eventually left the field to a chorus of boos.
Although Gibbons was incensed after the play, he was extremely calm following the game. He noted that the call didn't lead to any runs, and added that it's a solid umpiring crew and that he simply disagreed with the whole premise of their meeting.
"I know there's times where you get together and talk about calls," Gibbons said. "I just didn't think that somebody that wasn't involved in making the call would do that unless there was an appeal. Then you get together."