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Blown Call Costs Nationals Run, Playoff Berth (For Now)



    You never want referees or umpires to unduly influence the outcome of a game (*cough* NFL *cough*).

    Unfortunately for the Washington Nationals, that very well might have happened Thursday in their 7-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second game of the teams' doubleheader.



    Hanley Ramirez grounded to third, where Ryan Zimmerman was waiting to make an acrobatic tag on Adrian Gonzalez. At the same time, Matt Kemp was headed home from third base, but it was incredibly obvious that Zimmerman tagged Gonzalez before Kemp crossed home plate.

    How obvious?



    Yeah, way obvious.

    I'm no baseball expert (my greatest moment of glory was winning a little league game on an error at first base -- I was way out, but the first baseman dropped the ball), but the Dodgers got away with one there.

    "They obviously blew the call," manager Davey Johnson said to reporters afterward. "It wasn't reviewable. They all discussed it, and evidently nobody was paying attention. But Kemp wasn't running. He just wasn't running. The tag play was before. Obviously they missed it, but you'd think when the three of them got together, somebody would've been paying attention."

    Let's play a round of "What If?" What if Kemp's run, which gave the Dodgers a 6-0 lead, wouldn't have counted, but the game played out as it did? Well, the Nationals would have taken a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth with a six-run inning. Kemp would have then tied the game in the top of the ninth with a solo shot off Tyler Clippard. 

    Then, who knows? I would like to think that the Nats would have won the game in dramatic fashion (I imagine Stephen Strasburg would have re-emerged from his shutdown to hit a pinch-hit inside-the-park home run because that's the unlikeliest option) and clinched their first playoff berth since moving to D.C. in 2005 (not to mention the first for a Washington-based franchise since 1933). 

    Oh well. There's always Thursday.

    Except for the Strasburg thing. That'll never happen.

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