Rangers rookie Adolis García thought he had hit the first home run of his young career. So did most everyone else who watched it, including the announcers and the Rays' outfielders at Tropicana Field.
Not so fast.
In the top of seventh inning during the Rangers' 5-1 victory over the Rays, García's drive plunked off the yellow line and a screen atop the right-center-field fence, just in front of the first row of seats. Thinking he had a homer, García took his time rounding first base. But when he reached second and saw that the left fielder had chased after the ball -- which bounced back into play -- García turned his motor on, now believing he had an inside-the-park homer in sight.
García sprinted around the bases and seemed to avoid the tag at the plate for what was initially called an inside-the-park home run.
The wild play took two challenges before finally reaching a conclusion. First the original call of no home run was confirmed, because the ball had hit an area of the field that is in play at the Trop, just another of the ballpark's quirks. Then the safe call at home was challenged and overturned, meaning García was denied not once but twice at a chance for his first career home run.
According to Statcast, García’s triple went 389 feet to deep right-center field.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward said he thought the ball initially was going further into the stands on contact. The umpiring crew told him after the review that they looked at the ground rules and that where the ball struck on the outfield wall was indeed in play.
“The first thing we looked at was to see if it was from the boundary standpoint,” Woodward explained. “They said it hit the yellow line and came back. I haven't seen the close-up slow-mo yet.
“I thought from the replay on the board, it bounced off something else, but obviously they're not going to miss that. Then they confirmed that he was out [at the plate].”
García reached a sprint speed of 28.9 feet per second, well above the average of 27, but it wasn't quite enough. Shortstop Willy Adames' relay throw home came in at 91.2 mph and just barely beat the sliding García, although the umpire originally called him safe.
It was the second time during the game that a Rangers baserunner was thrown out at the plate. David Dahl was thrown out at the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, attempting to score from third base on a groundout.
Rays catcher Mike Zunino had the putout on both plays. After the game, he was still trying to digest García’s home/non-homer.
“I felt the way he slid, he went way to the outside, so it would have been a big reach,” said Rays catcher Mike Zunino. “I think that play was pretty wild in the sense that we weren't sure if it was a home run.”
Though García was denied twice on a chance for his first career home run, he did get credit for his first Major League triple. More important, the call didn’t affect the final outcome of the game.
Woodward said he batted García in the cleanup spot on Wednesday, hoping to be in the exact situation the Rangers were in during the seventh inning. Tampa Bay walked Texas slugger Joey Gallo in the three hole to get to García, who was playing in just his 26th Major League game.
“That’s the guy that I saw in Spring Training,” Woodward said. “He took a hard slider or cutter down away and he didn't budge on it. Obviously, the fourth at-bat was a huge hit for us right there and just, well it didn't put the game out of reach, but you know, it gave us a decent cushion that we desperately needed.”