Trio of calls in St. Louis add to playoff replay intrigue
ST. LOUIS -- In the midst of a dramatic Game 4 of the National League Division Series in which the Cardinals closed out the Dodgers on Tuesday by winning, 3-2, the use of reviewable plays became a topic of discussion three times, and one review was used to overturn a play. The first and second instances came during the same strange plate appearance.
Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong was batting with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning at Busch Stadium, with teammate Jon Jay on first base after drawing a walk against Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.
During the at-bat, Jay took a large lead and Kershaw threw to first base in an attempt to pick him off. It was a very close play, but first-base umpire Jerry Layne called Jay safe. Replays showed the Dodgers might have had a reason to call for a review, but Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly chose not to challenge.
Moments later, a truly rare occurrence took place.
Kershaw delivered the third pitch of the at-bat, a 76-mph curveball that bounced in the dirt before reaching home plate. Wong swung at the ball and connected, fouling the ball back. Then the ball bounced on the dirt and hit Wong's right knee. Then the ball advanced into fair play, prompting catcher A.J. Ellis to pick it up and throw Wong out at first to end the inning.
Home-plate umpire Eric Cooper called it a fair ball immediately, although replays clearly showed that the ball struck Wong's leg. In this instance, the play was not reviewable; in the current list of reviewable plays, batter hit by a pitch is listed as reviewable, but fair/foul calls are reviewable "in outfield only (at or behind umpire)."
"I guess I should stop playing cricket in the offseason," Wong joked in the Cardinals' victorious clubhouse after the game, with his team headed to the NL Championship Series for the fourth consecutive year.
"He threw that curveball way in front of home plate. For some reason, I went to check swing and it took a weird hop and came up and hit my bat. Then it hit my leg.
"It was such a weird, weird thing that happened. I didn't even realize what was going on at that point. I felt it hit my leg, but I saw the ball go in play and I thought I should just run just in case. It was crazy."
It was especially crazy considering Wong made headlines last year by being picked off of first base to end Game 4 of the World Series. Wong was crying after that one, but he had a different reaction to the bizarre play Tuesday.
"I took my helmet off and was just laughing," he said. "I was like, 'Of course this would happen to me. It's not a postseason unless something weird happens to me.'"
The umpiring crew was finally called on for a review in the sixth inning, when the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead. After Juan Uribe had singled home his club's second run of the inning with a line drive to right field and pushed Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier to third base, Ellis came up to bat.
Ellis saw three pitches, working the count to 2-1. The fourth pitch was a changeup in the dirt that got away from catcher Yadier Molina briefly, goading Ethier to stray off third base just enough. Molina, who has won six consecutive Gold Glove Awards, fired to third baseman Matt Carpenter, who appeared to apply the tag for the third out.
Third-base umpire Jerry Meals called Ethier safe, prompting a review that lasted one minute and 32 seconds and resulted in the call being overturned. Ethier was out, the inning was over, and the Busch crowd was very happy.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after the game that he didn't have a great view of the play because the visiting dugout is "kind of down in a little bit of a hole," but that third-base coach Lorenzo Bundy and Ellis said the ball appeared to "hit something" and that it "popped up."
"I think Andre saw the same thing, thought the ball was getting farther away," Mattingly said.
And the Cardinals saw later how big of a play it ended up being.
"Yadi is fearless behind the plate. ... He continues to amaze us with what he does and how he controls the pace of the game, how he controls the pitching staff. And just his leadership qualities that he brings to the club.
"But that play is something that he does without thinking. He sees a play, he wants to make it happen."
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.