While the Padres have taken both games in LA thus far, one of the more controversial plays occurred between Chris Taylor and Austin Hedges.
A new rule regarding catchers blocking home plate was put into effect in 2014 in an attempt to reduce the number of injuries occurring on such occasions. And that rule was put into test last night in the Padres 6-2 victory over the Dodgers. First, the scoring. Manny Machado provided the decisive grand slam, giving the Padres a 5-1 lead in the top half of the third inning.
But leading up to that, the Dodgers had a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning with Kike Hernadez at the plate and Chris Taylor standing on first. Hernandez roped a double over Jurickson Profar‘s head and off the left-field wall. Profar got the relay back in quickly to Fernando Tatis Jr., who threw a bullet to home plate.
And just about as soon as he caught it, Austin Hedges tagged Taylor out at the plate. But Taylor went far from a traditional slide into home plate, and to be perfectly honest, he would have been safe had he done so. It looked like he attempted to truck Hedges, who was playing off the line and not violating the rules.
Hedges had some choice words for Taylor after the incident, which led to Austin Barnes and Eric Hosmer exchanging some words as well. Hedges was trying to walk away from the discussion before Barners turned around to say something, which led to Hosmer pushing his catcher towards the dugout.
Watching it live, I thought the benches were going to clear. Hedges, for all the slack that we give him offensively, provided the clear path for Taylor to home plate. But Taylor had the mindset of plowing over Hedges.
We’ve seen it before. One of the most memorable ones since the new rule was enacted was in Game 6 of the 2016 World Series when Ben Zobrist trucked Indians catcher Roberto Perez, who was clearly blocking the plate. In that particular situation, all bets are off, and the catcher is fair game.
But in last night’s game, Hedges was not blocking the plate, and Taylor’s attempted slide or whatever you want to call it seemed like a dirty play.