Kevin Kiermaier was the batter at the center of a controversial play in Game 3 of the ALDS on Sunday night, a situation he described as a “heartbreaker.”
Kiermaier was batting with two outs, Yandy Diaz on first, and the game tied at four in the top of the 13th between his Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox. Kiermaier launched a Nick Pivetta pitch off the wall in right field at Fenway Park. But the ball hit off the wall, caromed off Hunter Renfroe’s body and bounced back over the wall.
The ruling was a ground-rule double. Additionally, MLB rules state that in a situation in which the fair ball bounces off a player and goes out of play, any runner gets to advance only two bases from the time of the pitch. That’s why Diaz was put back on third base instead of being credited with the run he likely would have scored (full explanation here).
The Rays’ next batter was Mike Zunino, who struck out to end the inning and keep the game tied at four. Christian Vazquez then won the game in the bottom of the inning on a two-run walk-off home run (video here).
Kiermaier spoke with the media after the game and shared his thoughts on the heartbreaking outcome.
“I’m just in awe right now. That’s the ruling. The umpires explained it to me, so I can’t go against that. The rules are what they are. But, man, that’s a heartbreaker. I can’t believe that happened where we don’t get the chance to score right there,” Kiermaier lamented.
The Rays outfielder was disappointed that the rule hurt his team. He also was bummed that he narrowly missed a two-run home run.
“For one, I crushed that ball. I was hoping to see it leave the yard. A lot of snap and crackle but no pop. For that to happen right there, it just doesn’t make sense to me. But the ruling is what it is.
“It would have put us in a much bigger situation, put the pressure on them there in the 13th inning. For the ball to bounce off the wall, and then hit a player and go over again, I just can’t believe that is a ground-rule double. I mean, Yandy would have scored standing up. It’s a heartbreaker, plain and simple.”
Kiermaier’s Rays now trail the Red Sox 2-1 in the series. Game 4 of the series in Boston is on Monday.