At 63-44, Boston now sits a half game behind the 63-43 Rays.
With the Red Sox trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning with one out and runners on second and third, Brandon Snyder strode to the plate. Snyder had already accounted for the lone Red Sox run with a solo home run off the Pesky Pole in the bottom of the sixth.
This time, Snyder lifted a fly ball to medium left field. Rays left fielder Sam Fuld camped under the ball, made the catch and quickly fired home as Daniel Nava raced to score the potential tying run.
Replays clearly show that Nava's foot touched home plate before Jose Molina applied the tag. But that's not the way Meals saw it.
Red Sox manager John Farrell, normally a calm and collected kind of guy, went ballistic, and Meals soon took care of that by ejecting him.
Farrell: "Terrible call. We should still be playing."— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) July 30, 2013
The Sox would get another chance in the bottom of the ninth with runners again on second and third, but Rays closer Fernando Rodney ended the threat by striking out Mike Napoli to end the game, 2-1.
Meals admitted the error of his ways on the close eighth-inning play following the game. Via Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune:
Ump Jerry Meals on call: "I was wrong on my decision. From the angle I had, I did not see (Nava's) foot get under Molina's shin" "#rays— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) July 30, 2013
Meals is no stranger to controversy. Almost exactly two years ago, Meals admitted to blowing a call at the plate in the Pittsburgh Pirates' 19th-inning loss to the Atlanta Braves. That loss was the start of the Pirates' now-famous second-half swoon after leading the NL Central Division just days earlier.
So, two separate instances of admitting wrongdoing, and two teams totally wronged. If the Red Sox end up losing the AL East by one game, they'll know exactly who to turn to for part of the blame.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.