When the Los Angeles Dodgers played the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on June 13 this season, they were upended by a Justin Upton eighth-inning solo home run off Zack Greinke that proved to be the difference. In their June 14 game, the Dodgers overcame a strong James Shields outing and some confusion regarding the “neighborhood play” to win in extra innings.
Back in San Diego some three months later, the Dodgers got a dose of both in the opener of their 10-game road trip. Clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth, Jim Johnson gave up a two-run homer to Jedd Gyorko, which started a four-run inning for the Padres. While the inconsistency of their bullpen reared its ugly head once more, the Dodgers were left frustrated over a missed call in the sixth.
After hitting a leadoff single, Justin Upton appeared to be erased from the bases on a 6-4-3 double play. However, second base umpire Chris Conroy ruled Upton safe, a call upheld by replay after the Dodgers challenged:
Upton wound up scoring on a two-out Derek Norris RBI double that cut the Dodgers’ lead to 7-5 at the time. Although the run didn’t necessarily prove to be the difference in the game, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly voiced his displeasure over the sequence and subsequent conversation with Conroy, via, Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA:
He [Conroy] said it wasn’t neighborhood [play], I guess. Actually, he told me he doesn’t believe in the neighborhood play. So, I guess he changed the rules tonight, and it’s something for the league to think about. I didn’t really realize he could actually change the rules during the game. Jim Joyce believed in it the other day against the Cubs. I’m just frustrated right now.”
The play against the Chicago Cubs that Mattingly referenced is one where Addison Russell came across second base without ever touching it as part of a 4-6-3 double play:
Corey Seager, who made his Major League debut Thursday night, was confused by the now-controversial play, according to an interview with SportsNet LA:
I don’t really know the rule. I think if they call you out they can’t challenge the neighborhood rule. But, it’s one of those plays that’s pretty much an automatic double play. There’s no reason to kind of call him safe, but they did.
Although the Dodgers were on the wrong end of the neighborhood play Thursday night it’s generally one that’s accepted by umpires without issue and shouldn’t again be a factor moving forward.