SAINT LOUIS – The St. Louis Cardinals needed a ninth-inning obstruction call to beat Boston 5-4, marking the first ever walk off win in World Series history on the rarely-used call.
Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks tripped up St. Louis baserunner Allen Craig on the game-ending play in Saturday’s contest at Busch Stadium.
Craig, who was already playing with a sprained foot, got up and was thrown out at home plate.
The umpires however used a rare obstruction ruling to override the tag at home, and award the run and the victory to the Cardinals who now have a 2-1 series lead.
“There does not have to be intent,” said umpire crew chief John Hirschbeck.
It was the 56th walk-off victory in World Series history and undoubtably one of the most controversial game ending sequences ever.
“We had thrown Craig out at the plate,” said Boston manager John Farrell. “But he was awarded home plate after (umpire) Jim Joyce had already called interference. “That’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Both third base umpire Jim Joyce and Hirschbeck defended their call when they met with reporters after the game.
“Just get out of the way quickly and not obstruct the runner. It is as simple as that,” Hirschbeck said.
Boston catcher Jared Saltalamacchia applied the tag at home plate on Craig after the throw from left fielder Daniel Nava. Joyce ruled Middlebrooks hampered Craig’s progress and home plate umpire Dana DeMuth pointed at third to confirm the call.
“I had to do the obstacle course to get home,” said Craig, who was carried off the field after the final play and wild celebration at home plate.
“I was going as fast as I could for the first time in a couple of months. It was just sore (ankle) when I tried to get up.”
The Red Sox argued the call to no avail. Television replays showed Craig falling over Middlebrooks, who was lying on his stomach.
The Red Sox infielder appeared to lift both his legs in an attempt to block Craig. The umpires also slapped Middlebrooks with an error on the play.
It marked just the fourth ever World Series game to end on an error, and it was the first since the 1986 World Series.
“Baseball is a crazy game, anything can happen,” said St. Louis pitcher Trevor Rosenthal.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina also couldn’t believe the finish.
“I am in shock,” Molina said.