Umpire Alan Porter apologized to Davey Johnson last night

September 20, 2012

Alex Brandon / AP

One day later, the National still had not forgotten about the blown call at home plate that cost them a run Wednesday night in their 7-6 loss to the Dodgers. Manager Davey Johnson revealed this afternoon that home plate umpire Alan Porter apologized during the game for awarding the Dodgers a run they should not have been given.

“He said, ‘I’m sorry I messed it up,’ after an inning,” Johnson said. “They’re good guys. I don’t have a beef with them. It’s just when you miss one, get help. He got help, still didn’t get it right.”

With two outs in the fourth inning, the Nationals trailed, 5-0, and the Dodgers had men on second on third, Matt Kemp the runner at third. Hanley Ramirez hit a groundball to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who made an acrobatic tag of Adrian Gonzalez at third base.

Because there was no force out on the play, Kemp had to cross the plate before Gonzalez was tagged out. Kemp had not even reached the chalk of the batter’s box. Porter did not react at first, which led Johnson to believe the run did not count. Usually, an umpire gestures to indicate the run scores.

But after Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly came out to argue his case, the umpires huddled. Catcher Jesus Flores said he overheard one umpire say he thought the bases were loaded. (If the bases were loaded, the force would have been on and Gonzalez would have needed to reach third base, nullifying any call or decision.)

“I mean, everyone else is looking at the plate,” Zimmerman said last night. “He was standing right behind home plate. He was in perfect position. Can’t fault him for that. I just, I don’t know if he was surprised that that play happened and he didn’t know he was going to have to make a decision or what happened, but he’s standing right there behind home plate with everything in front of him. I think at the time I don’t think anyone thought it was a really big deal but it turned out to be a big deal.”

After the umpires gave the Dodgers the sixth run, Johnson came out to argue. He had been watching, and knew Kemp did not score before Zimmerman’s tag. But he had also been ejected this weekend in Atlanta.

“I didn’t want to have them back-to-back,” Johnson said. “I’m not getting paid that much to give the league that much. I thought I would go ahead and stick around. But I said, ‘Would you guys please look at the video so you can see that I’m right and you messed it up?’ And they said they would. So I’m happy.”

Johnson expected General Manager Mike Rizzo to speak with the league office today about the play.  

“If I know anything about my general manager, I’m sure there was some follow up,” Johnson said. “To just probably say we would be open for some video in certain plays like that. Umpires are going to miss things. When I feel maybe they weren’t in proper position, then I have a problem.”

Adam Kilgore covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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Adam Kilgore · September 20, 2012