The Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A marquee pitching matchup between Charlie Morton and David Price was overshadowed by the MLB rulebook.
Morton (12-3) struck out 11 over seven innings and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided a three-game sweep by beating Price and Boston 3-2 in a game that the Red Sox protested on Wednesday.
Confusion reigned in the top of the eighth when a series of defensive changes involving reliever Adam Kolarek prompted Boston manager Alex Cora to protest the game because of the placement of subs into the Rays lineup after the designated hitter was removed.
Umpire crew chief Angel Hernandez, through a pool reporter, said Rays manager Kevin Cash did not specify where Kolarek and the others would be placed in the lineup and that by rule it became his decision.
“In case the manager fails or refuses to make the decision, the plate umpire is authorized to decide the necessary batting order,” Hernandez said. “The umpire’s decision is final.”
Kolarek replaced Morton and retired pinch-hitter Sam Travis on a pop fly. The left-hander then shifted to first base when Cash brought in reliever Chaz Roe, who got a fly ball from Mookie Betts.
After Kolarek then returned to the mound and Nate Lowe entered to play first base, Cora met with the umpires, prompting about a 15-minute stoppage as the umpires discussed the matter.
After the protest was made and the game resumed, Kolarek got a first-pitch grounder from Rafael Devers.
During the lineup changes, Cora argued that Kolarek should have been placed ninth in the Rays batting order, since he was replacing Ji-Man Choi at first base.
However, Kolarek was placed in the third spot, replacing designated hitter Austin Meadows, while Lowe went into the nine hole.
Cora maintained that since Kolarek had replaced Choi, the Rays still had a DH in the game and there was only one lineup spot in which to place Kolarek.
“The pitcher moved to a position and we felt there were some illegal substitutions,” Cora said.
“It was a mess, and I wasn’t even able to keep up with Angel. So we protested the game, and we’ll see where it goes.”
An unhappy Cora again talked with the umpires after the third out, delaying the start of the bottom of the eighth.