Dodgers pinch-runner erased on disputed stolen base attempt in ninth
ATLANTA -- Upon further review, Dee Gordon looked safe.
Next year, these plays can and probably will be further scrutinized as a part of expanded instant replay, but for now, the human element is still a factor. Slow motion replays from several different angles suggested Gordon, in to pinch-run for A.J. Ellis in the ninth inning of a one-run game, just may have been safe.
But he was ruled out by second-base umpire Bill Miller, and a potentially fruitful inning for the Dodgers instead served as a quicker path for the Braves to claim a 4-3 victory, knotting the National League Division series at one win apiece.
Game 3 is set for Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS.
Needless to say, those in the Dodgers' dugout felt Gordon was safe. And it goes without saying that Gordon felt he was safe, too. His face said it all, with a reaction that was GIF-worthy, spontaneous and genuine. He popped up from the base, turned to Miller, his eyes wide as saucers, his jaw looking as if it might just drop to the area just around the base where he was tagged out.
"I watched [a replay] as soon as I came in," Gordon said. "I'm not going to harp on what he called. I thought I was safe."
From at least three different camera angles, it appears Gordon has a point. He got a good jump and slid headfirst, seemingly just ahead of the throw from catcher Gerald Laird. Andrelton Simmons picked the ball on a short hop and, from the first-base angle, appeared to miss Gordon's leg and instead made the tag on his foot.
By that time, Gordon contended, his body was already firmly planted on the base.
"I felt like he didn't tag me until I felt it hit my foot," he said. "That's really late. I was all over the base when that happened. It was just one of those days, I guess."
Initially reluctant to disagree on the record with the umpire's ruling, Gordon opted to instead deflect the blame to himself, expressing a need to "work on" being a better basestealer.
But after some prodding, Gordon did acknowledge he was sure his vantage point was the correct one.
"I definitely was [surprised] to be totally honest with you," he said. "I thought I was safe. That's my job. I have to be better at it."
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly expressed a similar sentiment.
"Well, the view, it looks safe from our point of view," Mattingly said. "But I think we're that far away, just looks like Dee gets there before the ball gets there. And I know our replays feel like they're fairly clear, but I'm sure other people see it another way."
By those "other people," he's probably talking about Braves players. And, he'd be right.
"I got him both times," Simmons said. "I got him on the first leg like a small tag, then again on the second leg. I kind of put my knee in there a little bit. I know he hit it, so that might have slowed him down a little bit."
Second baseman Elliot Johnson, while happy with the final ruling, took a more diplomatic approach.
"[Laird] couldn't have done a better job getting it out of his hand. [Simmons] couldn't have done a better job putting the tag down," he said. "As far as whether he was safe or out, I think it was a pretty close play. I didn't see the replay or anything like that. It seemed like a close play to me. Obviously it went in our favor, so we'll take it every time.
"Generally speaking, if you tag in the lower extremity area, if they dive headfirst and you tag there, you're probably not going to get the out call. But I think he might have slid a little bit early, so I think that's why we got the benefit of the out call."
Both sides could probably agree this was a huge play either way. After Gordon was caught stealing, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel walked Andre Ethier. Had Gordon been safe, Dodgers would have had runners at first and second with one out in a one-run game.
Instead, the game ended quickly when Carl Crawford struck out swinging.
"It felt good," Laird said. "It's a big play in the game. [Kimbrel] walks the next guy, next thing you know you've got first and second, one out, you don't know what the outcome will be. I just wanted to make a good throw. I knew he had a pretty good jump, and I just wanted to get rid of it, and Andrelton did the rest, made a good pick and made a good tag."