ST. LOUIS – Jim Joyce didn’t even have to think.
“The feet were up in the air,” the umpire said, “and immediately and instinctually I called obstruction.”
Best known for a blown call at first base in 2010 that cost Detroit’s Armando Galarraga a perfect game, Joyce made the controversial call that gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
According to Major League Baseball officials and crew chief John Hirschbeck, Joyce – a veteran of a quarter- century in the majors – made the right decision.
Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks was flat on his stomach when he raised both legs and tripped up Allen Craig in the ninth inning. Joyce immediately called obstruction.
“There does not have to be intent, OK?” Hirschbeck said. “Once he has the opportunity to field the ball, he can no longer obstruct the runner.”
In Joyce’s view, Middlebrooks would have been called even if he hadn’t raised his legs.
“The feet didn’t play too much into that because he was still in the area where the baserunner needs to go to advance to home plate,” the umpire said. “The baserunner has every right to go unobstructed.”