ATLANTA — The Braves and Astros are off and running in Game 6 of the World Series in Houston, with the first inning already providing a bizarre play that had Atlanta fans mightily frustrated.
Astros outfielder Michael Brantley tapped a soft grounder to first, which pulled Freddie Freeman far enough away from the base that he had to make a toss to Braves starter Max Fried, running over to cover the bag.
Fried was in an awkward spot with Brantley, a quick runner, approaching the base, though, and he stuck out at it with his right foot and never touched the bag.
The umpire called Brantley safe on the bang- bang play.
The replay showed there was a lot going on in those short few moments, however.
As Fried missed, Brantley stepped onto his ankle and then passed over the bag - never touching first base. At the same time, Fried's left foot swiped the base as he fell down.
It's an incredibly inefficient way to do things, but basically that should have been enough to rule Brantley out. He never was ruled, out, though, and remained on first as the inning continued on (Fried was, as it happens, able to work out of the no-outs-two-men-on-jam without allowing a run).
So what's the deal?
Well, two things happened. One, obviously, is that the umpire simply got the call wrong. He either didn't see that Brantley didn't actually touch the base, or didn't notice that Fried inadvertently wound up tagging it with his other foot, or perhaps he just missed both those things.
(UPDATE: This evidently came up before in a game and there are provisions to rule a runner safe if both he and the fielder miss first base, but the rule in question also refers to catcher's interference, so it's not clear how that might have applied here.)
The second thing that happened is that the Braves elected not to challenge the call. It's not clear why they didn't, but Braves writer Grant McAuley suggested the team may have simply missed it in the mayhem of the moment.
In any case, while annoying, at least Fried worked out of things without - meaning it won't linger on as some sore spot for Braves fans that could swing the outcome of the game.