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‘I was safe’: Umpiring decisions go against Braves in frustrating fifth

The Braves had one of their more frustrating innings of the season in the bottom of the fifth at SunTrust Park on Tuesday night against the Cubs, when a pair of umpire’s calls on close, aggressive plays went against Atlanta.

The rulings might have changed the outcome of the game if one or either had gone in favor of the Braves, who lost, 3-2, after Arodys Vizcaino blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning.

Back in the fifth with the score 1-1, Johan Camargo led off the Braves’ half of the inning with a single against left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery. 

Charlie Culberson followed with a fielder’s choice grounder to second baseman Javier Baez, whose errant throw to the shortstop allowed Camargo to advance to third and Culberson to reach base.

Then with Ozzie Albies batting and none out, Montgomery threw a wild pitch and Camargo tried to score. The ball caromed off the backstop and back to catcher Wilson Contreras, who threw to Montgomery covering home. 

He tagged Camargo on the helmet as the runner slid hands-first. Camargo was called out, but the Braves challenged the call when replays appeared to show Camargo touched the base with his hand before the tag on his helmet.

“I was safe,” Camargo said. “I got my hand there first. ... 

He tagged me, he touched my helmet just a little bit, but I got my hand there first.”

After a two-minute review, the call was upheld. Out.

Braves manager Brian Snitker was furious in the dugout, motioning to the umpire that Camargo had touched the plate before the tag. To no avail.

Asked after the game what the explanation was for the ruling and the failed challenge, Snitker said, “The explanation is just what you see on the board, that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn it, I guess.”

Moments later, Culberson tried to steal third base. Contreras made a strong throw, but it appeared Culberson slid in safely before the tag. He was called out, however, and this time the Braves couldn’t challenge the ruling, having used their challenge on the previous play. 

If that Camargo call had been overturned, the Braves would have retained their challenge and been able to use it to challenge the Culberson call, but they lost the challenge when the Camargo ruling was upheld.

“Yeah, then you’re kind of (helpless at that point),” Snitker said. “Because, I mean, everybody said (Culberson) was safe. But that happens all the time. It’d be nice to have a couple of those challenges, I guess.” 

Albies drew a walk before Ronald Acuna flied out to end the inning, and there was a chorus of boos after the third out as fans let the umpires know what they thought of the calls.

The Braves were also tagged out on an aggressive base-running play in the first inning when Freddie Freeman, after drawing a two-out walk, stole second and went to third on an errant throw on the play. When the ball caromed into left field, Freeman got the “go” sign from third-base coach Ron Washington and tried to score on the play.

After running from first to home, Freeman was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw from left fielder Kyle Schwarber.

“On the base-running things, I don’t think I’d want any of the guys to do anything different than what they did,” Snitker said of his team’s aggressive decisions. “It took perfect throws on all of them.”

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