When the Miami Marlins needed to dispatch a backup catcher to deliver a message to the bullpen in person, they probably figured this would be a strange game.
It was, with an exceptionally rare ruling by an umpire going against them Saturday in a 7-3 loss to the New York Mets.
An instant after scoring the tying run in the seventh inning, speedy Juan Pierre was called for interference when he collided with Mets catcher John Buck far from home plate.
"Two guys trying to make a play, going full speed, then the ball goes wide. I guess in the sense of the rule it's interference, but I don't understand why it should go against us," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.
The crazy sequence began when Greg Dobbs hit a two-out single with Pierre at second base. Pierre dashed home easily to make it 3-all as right fielder Mike Baxter's throw was 10 feet wide.
Buck retrieved the ball toward the first base side. Then it turned bizarre.
Pierre slowed down a few steps after scoring, but still bumped into Buck as the catcher planted for a throw to second to try and get Dobbs. Both players bumped knees and tumbled to the grass.
"I looked up and saw Dobbs wasn't even halfway to second. Since Juan had already scored and the rule states somebody has to be out on interference, Dobbs had to be the one," plate umpire Jim Joyce said.
"I have never seen that play before in my life. I asked all the guys on my crew and none of them have ever seen it, either," he added.
Said Pierre: "You see something new every day."
"It's kind of weird they get rewarded for making a bad throw. I see him leave the plate so I didn't slide," he said. "I wasn't expecting to hit him. I was shocked more than anything else. I looked up and said, 'Y'all right?' and he said, 'You all right?'"
The Mets scored three times in the seventh, helped by a pair of throwing errors from catcher Miguel Olivo.
Brandon Lyon (1-0) pitched one scoreless inning. Ryan Webb (0-1) took the loss.
Besides the Buck-Pierre play, there were other odd moments.
At one point, the bullpen phone in the Marlins' dugout wasn't working. Backup catcher Kyle Skipworth was sent as a messenger.
"I was sitting there and Skip said, 'Get Webb going.' I didn't understand at first, then he said 'Go, Go!' so I ran out there as fast as I could," Skipworth said.
Webb gave up two hits and walked two in 1 2-3 innings.
"Sometimes you only get one batter to get ready, and that's when the phone is working," he said.
Also, Joyce had a discussion with both managers after a fan was apparently shouting out pitch locations to hitters.
Buck drove in four runs and has a team-high nine RBIs in his first year with the Mets. He hit a two-run double off Ricky Nolasco in the sixth for a 3-2 edge and also had two sacrifice flies.
An All-Star in 2010, Buck dipped to .192 last season with the Marlins. They traded him to Toronto in November, and the Blue Jays dealt him to the Mets in December as part of a package for NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
"Last year, if something could go wrong, it went wrong. And then I tried harder to fix it," Buck said. "It was a lot of stuff."