Following the final out of Washington’s 1-0 loss at New York on Thursday, a few Nationals players, including veteran catcher Ivan Rodriguez, came out of the visiting dugout and directed comments toward the umpires as they walked off the field. The players soon backed down, but their irritation was evident.
Moments earlier, with a man on second base, right fielder Jayson Werth drilled a one-out grounder to third and appeared either to have beaten the throw to first base or to have been safe because Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy pulled his foot off the bag. First base umpire Phil Cuzzi called Werth out, which led to an on-field protest from Washington Manager Jim Riggleman.
After the game, the umpiring crew, led by crew chief Bill Miller, filed a complaint over a verbal altercation over the call with Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo, according to the New York Daily News. Major League Baseball is investigating the matter, the Daily News reported. A Nationals spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“What I see? My man was safe,” Nationals starter Livan Hernandez said. Werth “beat him two times. He was safe with the guy out of the bag, and he was safe because he beat the throw. I think it was a big mistake by the umpire. It’s not about the foot is off the bag. He was safe because he beat the throw to first. He was safe two times.”
As soon as the call had been made, Riggleman strode out of the Nationals’ dugout and headed directly toward Cuzzi. After sharing his thoughts with Cuzzi – who provided no explanation for the call, according to Riggleman – the Washington manager appeared to be headed back toward his dugout when he turned and headed toward home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez.
Riggleman said he wanted to find out if Gonzalez had seen the play from a better angle than Cuzzi. But Gonzalez wanted no part in the discussion. He turned his back to Riggleman and walked in the opposite direction. Riggleman stood near home plate for a few moments, his arms folded.
Riggleman then voiced his displeasure with Miller, who had come in from his spot behind second base. The two men walked up the third base line a few paces before Riggleman finally headed back into the Washington dugout.
The game ended when the next at-bat concluded with Adam LaRoche grounding out to second.
“From where I was at, I felt that [Werth] was going to beat the play because he was hustling down the line,” Riggleman said. “Whether he was on the base or not, I thought he was going to be safe. I thought [Murphy] came off the base, so I was pretty confident he was safe.
“That’s a big call, but we can’t let the game come down to that. We’ve got to do more. We can’t have two hits and two days in a row get shut out. We’re better than that, and we’re going to have to do better than that.”
In the visiting clubhouse after the game Thursday, Rodriguez declined to comment on the controversial call Cuzzi made on Werth’s play at first in the ninth.
Werth, for his part, said he was not going to comment on the umpires.
“You know, one of those things,” said Werth, who then paused for several seconds as he stared at the ground in front of him. “Yeah, um, that’s baseball. Not much to say about it, really. Not really anything to speak of. It happened probably about an hour ago, or not quite an hour ago, and I’ve been over it for a while.”