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SAN DIEGO -- For a moment, Manny Machado thought he had a homer. Then, he had a double. Then, he was left with only a single -- the culmination of an odd play that ended with a jogging Eric Hosmer being tagged out at third base.
With one out and runners on the corners in the second inning of Wednesday's 8-7 Padres win over the Brewers at Petco Park, Machado sent a deep drive to left-center. The ball caromed off the top of the wall and back onto the field of play. It struck between two different padded portions of that wall, causing it to pop high into the air.
The awkward ricochet gave all three baserunners -- Machado, Hosmer and Fernando Tatis Jr. -- the impression that the baseball struck something beyond the fence and bounced back into the field of play.
Eventually, Machado and Tatis realized the ball might still be live, and they turned on the jets. Tatis scored from third, and Machado cruised into second.
“I thought I hit it pretty well,” Machado said. “Once it hit that wall and it bounced up, I thought, 'Try to get to second base.' I knew there's nothing behind that wall. It's all padding.”
Hosmer, meanwhile, continued his trot toward third base. Lorenzo Cain fielded the ball and threw to shortstop Orlando Arcia, who relayed to Travis Shaw at third. Shaw tagged Hosmer for the out.
“The umpire didn’t signal homer, so I just tagged him,” Shaw said.
The play went to replay review, where the ruling of no home run was confirmed. It evoked similar memories of a play from a game two years ago, when Wil Myers had a would-be homer turned into a double in right field.
In that case, the ruling was less clear. There's a landing area beyond the right-field fence above the videoboard at Petco Park, and there are ground rules written to decipher which part of the wall constitutes a homer and which part is still in play.
In fact, if the ball had struck between the two padded portions in right field, it would’ve been ruled a home run. In left field, there are no such ground rules. Thus, any ball that clears the fence is a homer, and any ball that doesn't -- regardless of which portion of the wall it hits -- is live.
“It is what it is, they're our ground rules,” said Padres manager Andy Green. “There's no reason to sit here and split hairs with it. It didn't play favorably for us today. Obviously today, I would've liked it to be a home run.”
Machado was initially given a double instead of his 15th home run. But because Hosmer was ruled out and never reached third base, Machado was later credited with a single instead. The Padres took a 3-1 lead on the play anyway.