Intentional ball turns into wild, reviewed play
SAN FRANCISCO -- History will remember it as a moment of levity, the type to occupy stadium blooper reels for years to come. In the act of intentionally walking Pablo Sandoval in the seventh inning of Tuesday's Game 4 of the National League Division Series, which the Giants took from the Nationals, 3-2, Washington reliever Aaron Barrett sailed ball four all the way to the backstop.
The result was one of the more bizarre postseason plays in any context. Watching Barrett's mistake from third base, Giants catcher Buster Posey raced home. His counterpart, Wilson Ramos, hustled after the ball, grabbing it after it ricocheted off the wall behind home plate. Then Ramos flipped to Barrett, who tagged Posey while blocking most of the plate with his body.
Crew chief Mike Winters called for a review, and the call was confirmed after video replay. Posey was out. The Nats caught a peculiar break.
"As soon as the ball left my hand, I literally didn't even feel it come out of my hand," Barrett said. "I honestly have no idea what happened. I was just trying to get it to Ramos, and the next thing I know, it's going over his head. It ended up working out. I don't know how. I might have to practice that one in the offseason."
Barrett, who had uncorked a wild pitch earlier in the inning to give the Giants a 3-2 lead, added that he "got lucky" on the play. It's the type of thing -- a pitcher throwing wild on an intentional ball -- that happens once or twice a season in baseball. Usually, it's comical. On rare occasions -- the Angels' Kevin Jepsen in a game against the White Sox three years ago, for example -- the mistake proves significant enough to cost a team a game.
But Barrett's goof came on a postseason stage, at the time looming huge in a one-run game. That's why Giants manager Bruce Bochy came out to argue, ultimately prompting the crew-chief review.
"At that point, I have nothing to lose," Bochy said.
Implemented this season, Major League Baseball's Rule 7.13 has been a point of contention for some catchers and managers. Enacted in an effort to avoid home-plate collisions (and, by extension, unnecessary injuries), the rule states that any defender covering home plate must provide a clear lane for a baserunner. In this instance, Barrett covered most of the plate with his feet, but umpires ruled that he had given Posey enough of a lane to score.
"Everything had to go right," Posey said. "[The ball] had to come up right to him, because it was a close play anyway."
In retrospect, the wild pitch that Barrett unleashed earlier in the inning proved far more damaging to the Nationals, as did the walk that Barrett issued and the two hits Matt Thornton gave up to fuel the rally. Because Posey was tagged out on the play, it did not even go into the record books as a wild pitch, but a fielder's choice.
Yet the play was wild in every other respect.
"I don't know if that was in their playbook," Bochy said, laughing, "but it worked."
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.
The Dodgers' A.J. Ellis was at the plate with runners on first and third and two out in the sixth inning when Cardinals reliever Seth Maness bounced a pitch just behind All-Star catcher Yadier Molina. Andre 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. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny challenged, and after a 92-second review, the call was overturned, ending Los Angeles' rally.