Tigers win challenge in ninth, then rally
Call overturned after pinch-runner Davis originally ruled out stealing second
BALTIMORE -- Miguel Cabrera powered the Tigers to victory Tuesday night. Replay helped make sure he got a chance.
Before Cabrera's three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning put the Tigers in front for good in their 4-1 win against the Orioles, the Tigers got their leadoff runner into scoring position with a Rajai Davis stolen base. It took a review to determine that he got to the bag in time, overturning the initial out call.
Cabrera's blast allowed Davis to trot home. Without the safe call, however, the inning likely wouldn't have gotten to Cabrera in the first place.
"It was probably the most significant replay that we've had," manager Brad Ausmus said. "I don't know if it was closest, but it may be."
It was close enough that Cabrera was teasing Orioles fans that Davis was going to be safe, and O's fans were telling him the opposite.
"This review, it's fun for the fans," Cabrera said. "I think they have a great time when they're going to challenge one play, especially in the ninth inning. It's like something special now for the fans to get into the game.
"They started screaming like, 'He's going to be out! He's going to be out!' I said, 'No, he's going to be safe. He was safe.' I think they got the right call, and we took advantage and we put a lot of runs on the board."
Davis was out of the starting lineup, but he entered as a pinch-runner once Alex Avila led off the ninth with a single to left against the shift behind O's closer Tommy Hunter. With a 1-1 count, Davis took off on Hunter and rookie catcher Caleb Joseph.
"It's one of those things where I think everybody in the stadium thought one thing and the people in New York thought another," Joseph said of the ruling.
Second-base umpire Paul Nauert, who made headlines Monday night when he made contact with Torii Hunter to try to calm him down during a benches-clearing argument with Bud Norris, initially ruled Davis out. That brought Ausmus out of the dugout to dispute it.
Ausmus still had his challenge left for the game. With or without an indication from his replay official and his dugout, he admitted, he was probably going to challenge.
"Even though I did get a signal from the dugout, we probably would've thrown a Hail Mary there anyway and just taken a shot at it," Ausmus said. "But [defensive coordinator] Matt Martin gave [bench coach] Gene [Lamont] the challenge signal, and relatively quickly. And when Matt gives it relatively quickly, that bodes well for us generally."
It took a few different camera angles for a decisive one to come up suggesting Davis got his hand in ahead of shortstop J.J. Hardy's tag. Even once that angle came in, it wasn't an easy call.
"It was very close, and we looked at it and it was correct. It should have been overturned," crew chief Bob Davidson told a pool reporter. "They're able to slow everything down and stop it where the umpire on the field, obviously, can't do that. We looked at it, because what they show on the scoreboard in all of the ballparks, they can show what they want.
"It was very close, and the replay guy told me, 'Hey, this is a tight call, but we have to reverse it.' We came in here and looked at it, and it should have been reversed."
"I thought that one angle showed he was safe," Ausmus said. "The angle from maybe the first-base side, kind of to the right of our dugout. That was the one angle that I thought looked like his hand was on the base when he tagged him. You just couldn't tell [the other angles] because the leg was in the way or something."
Instead of the bases empty and one out, pinch-hitter Don Kelly had the tying run on second and nobody out. Just as important, Cabrera was three batters away. After Kelly and Ian Kinsler lined out, Torii Hunter stepped to the plate with Cabrera on deck.
Torii Hunter's walk brought Cabrera to the plate, but replay got an assist.