There was no denying that Tony Wolters caught the Reds by surprise on Sunday afternoon. The only question was whether the Cubs catcher's bold sprint for home did indeed result in a stunning stolen base.
Upon further review: no, it did not. But it was still an interesting moment early in what became a thrilling 13-12 Reds win at Great American Ball Park.
With two outs and the contest in a 2-2 deadlock, Wolters took a healthy lead off third base with Ian Happ in the batter's box. Reds righty Tyler Mahle fired an 0-2 pitch to Happ, who took it for a ball.
Catcher Tucker Barnhart checked on Wolters and then tossed the ball back to Mahle on the mound. As soon as Barnhart released the ball, Wolters hustled for home. Mahle swiftly fired the ball back to Barnhart in plenty of time, but that is when things took a momentarily confusing turn.
As Wolters closed in on the catcher, the runner slowed down and took a few stutter steps. Barnhart was in a standing position, giving Wolters an opening to attempt a slide. The Cubs' catcher slid underneath Barnhart, who was delayed in reaching down to apply the tag.
Initially, home-plate umpire Shane Livensparger deemed Wolters safe, resulting in a steal of home that gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead. The Reds challenged and a closer inspection of the replay showed Wolters' foot above the plate (not on it) as Barnhart made the tag. The call was overturned, the run was removed from the board and the inning was over in an unlikely manner.
"I thought it was a good play," Reds manager David Bell said. "They’re a good baserunning team. They take chances, but they’re always looking to take advantage. … They have nice team speed, but probably more importantly, they’re looking to take advantage of every opportunity. It came up for them today. We got an out there, but it easily could’ve been a run for them. We’ll take it, but it was a good play by them."