Challenge overturns safe call, ends Dodgers' threat
After ball gets away from Molina, replay shows Cards catcher's throw to third nabs Ethier
ST. LOUIS -- Replay challenges played a big part in two of the four games of the National League Division Series, with perhaps the reversal that ended the Dodgers' half of the sixth inning during Tuesday's Game 4 swinging the game and the series to the Cardinals.
"I guess it's a costly mistake now," said Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier -- who was in the middle of the fray -- after the Dodgers lost the game, 3-2, and the series, 3-1. "Of course at the time, you never know the outcome of that."
The Dodgers broke through a scoreless duel with two runs in the sixth to back the then one-hit pitching of ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw. But the Boys in Blue ran themselves out of the inning when Ethier was picked off third base after Cardinals manager Mike Matheny challenged the third-base umpire's safe call.
A.J. Ellis was at the plate with runners on first and third and two out when reliever Seth Maness bounced a pitch just behind All-Star catcher Yadier Molina. Ethier darted off third toward the plate and stopped short as Molina came up with one of his patented laser throws that seemed to beat the Dodgers center fielder as he retreated back to the bag.
Third-base umpire Jerry Meals called Ethier safe as third baseman Matt Carpenter applied the tag. Matheny challenged, and after a 92-second review, the call was overturned, ending the rally.
"I didn't know what happened," Molina said. "The ball was in the dirt and skipped away, but stayed close to me. I fired to third, and it happened."
The possibility of the Dodgers adding more runs in the inning was stunted, and that proved to be highly significant when Matt Adams hit a three-run homer, chasing Kershaw in the Cardinals' half of the seventh.
"From [Ethier's] viewpoint, it looks like the ball is getting away, and A.J. said the same thing. It's like it hit something and popped up," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
"I saw it bounce. I didn't know if it was bouncing up or away from [Molina]," said Ethier, who started his first game of the series in place of the slumping Yasiel Puig. "I got caught in no-man's land there. It was either, try to get back to the bag or get in the way of it. Neither one of them worked."
The Dodgers only scored in two of the 18 innings they played at Busch Stadium the last two days, and they could hardly squander any opportunity. They had five baserunners in the crucial inning that opened with back-to-back singles by Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez against Cards starter Shelby Miller. Los Angeles scored on Matt Kemp's double-play grounder.
Miller hit Hanley Ramirez on the elbow, sending him to first base, and Either walked as Maness replaced Miller. It was the fourth time Ramirez had been hit by Cardinals pitchers since Game 1 of last year's NL Championship Series, which the Dodgers also lost to St. Louis. Juan Uribe broke an 0-for-14 slump with a single to right-center that scored Ramirez and sent Ethier to third. It was a 1-0 pitch to Ellis that slithered away from Molina, setting up the inning-ending replay challenge.
The Dodgers threatened in the seventh and ninth, but they never scored again. They only plated three of the 14 runners they had in scoring position in the final two games.
"It's sickening, that's what it is," Ethier said. "More than anything, it's not just going far in the playoffs, it's just getting past a certain team. It's a recurring theme. We have to figure out how to do that."
The Dodgers were on the positive side of an overturned replay call in Game 2 of the series at Dodger Stadium. A play on a Dee Gordon grounder to second base that Mattingly challenged in the third inning turned out to be a pivotal play in his club's 3-2 victory. Zack Greinke was on first base when Gordon hit a bouncer to Cards second baseman Kolten Wong, who put the tag on Greinke to get an out call from umpire Eric Cooper.
Replays, however, showed Wong had tagged Greinke with his glove while the ball was in his throwing hand, and Greinke was awarded second base after the review. The pitcher later scored on an Adrian Gonzalez single.
This is the first year that the blanket replay system has been used in the postseason, and like Tuesday's reversal, it had a profound effect on the eventual outcome of the series.
"That's one of those funny plays that probably isn't caught without the replay system right now, which it wasn't," Matheny said after the game. "It ended up coming around and not just costing us extra pitches, but ended up costing a run."
Previous replay reviews this postseason
With Tigers catcher Alex Avila at third base and two outs in the second inning, shortstop Andrew Romine bunted toward Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop. The ball was deftly scooped up by Schoop, who flipped the ball to first baseman Steve Pearce in one motion, and umpire Jim Wolf called Romine out. With a run at stake, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus challenged the call. After a two-minute, 28-second review, the call on the field stood. The Tigers would lose, 2-1, and were eliminated from the ALDS.
A play on a Dee Gordon grounder to second base that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly challenged in the third inning turned out to be a pivotal play in his club's 3-2 victory. Zack Greinke was on first base when Gordon hit a bouncer to Cards second baseman Kolten Wong, who put the tag on Greinke to get an out call from umpire Eric Cooper. Replays, however, showed Wong had tagged Greinke with his glove while the ball was in his throwing hand, and Greinke was awarded second base after the review. He later scored on an Adrian Gonzalez single.
With the Nationals leading, 1-0, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Pablo Sandoval sliced a ball to the left-field corner with two runners on. Joe Panik easily scored from second, but Buster Posey was called out by home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza after the relay throw beat him by a split second. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy immediately challenged the call, but it was upheld due to a lack of conclusive evidence.
With no outs and Travis Ishikawa on second, Jake Peavy laid down a sacrifice bunt. Instead of taking the out at first, Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche threw to second in hopes of gunning down Ishikawa, and umpire Tom Hallion called him out. Bochy challenged the call, and it was overturned after a review of just one minute and one second. Ishikawa would later score in a game the Giants would win 3-2.
With one out and one on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Nick Markakis launched a fly ball to right field that bounced off the grounds' crew shed roof in right field and came back onto the field of play. Right-field umpire Paul Schreiber signaled it was a home run, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus requested the play be reviewed. The call on the field was confirmed, correctly according to the Camden Yards ground rules, which state: Fly ball hitting the grounds crew shed roof in right field and bouncing back into play: HOME RUN.