A crucial AL East game between the Rays and the Red Sox ground to a screeching halt in the eighth inning on Wednesday afternoon after the Rays pulled some lineup shenanigans with their relief pitchers. Lefty Adam Kolarek got the first out in the inning, at which point the Rays brought in right-handed reliever Chaz Roe—but sent Kolarek over to first base, so that he could stay in the game. This led Sox manager Alex Cora to raise a stink that delayed the game for nearly 15 minutes, before the Sox played the rest of it under protest.
First, the cool part. Here’s the sequence where Roe spelled Kolarek to get the flyout from Mookie Betts. It’s fascinating and not even all that ridiculous—the Rays have done this a few times before without any similar protests or protracted delays—at least until Kolarek gets more warm-up pitches upon his re-entrance to pitch to Rafael Devers. That was the first sign that we might be waiting around for a while.
Before Kolarek could face his second (non-consecutive) batter of the inning, Cora came out to talk with the umps about a rule so obscure and unclear that NESN’s announcers openly pined for an on-field microphone to better understand the controversy. The issue seemed to stem from a rule that forces a team to sacrifice the DH position when they move a pitcher into the field; Cora took umbrage at the shuffling that the Rays did to their lineup because he perceived it as an attempt to work around that rule. Probably. Even one of the most plugged-in baseball writers in the country had to preface his analysis with, “Just a guess.”
The umps had multiple conversations with both Cora and Rays manager Kevin Cash, plus a phone conversation with New York. It was almost 15 minutes before the next pitch was thrown—a ball that Devers immediately grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning. In the top of the ninth, the Red Sox would go down 1-2-3 to lose the game, 3-2. It’s all Chaz Roe’s fault.