DETROIT -- Friday's 13-inning Opening Day marathon between the Tigers and Pirates nearly ended in the 10th. The celebration surrounding JaCoby Jones after his two-out single brought home Nicholas Castellanos suggested it was over. All that had to be done was a replay review to check if Castellanos beat the tag at the plate as originally ruled.
"We all thought it was a courtesy review," Castellanos said.
Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who had the tag at the plate, felt he got him, but he wasn't sure they'd get the call in that situation.
"You've got to do it, no matter what," Cervelli said. "It's your last out, so you have to do it. And the play was close, no doubt about it."
The eventual reversal, calling Castellanos out, sent the game further into extra innings before the Pirates prevailed thanks to Gregory Polanco's three-run homer, 13-10, in 13 innings. The reaction resulted in Ron Gardenhire's first ejection as Tigers manager in his first game on the job.
"He was very upset," said bench coach Steve Liddle, who filled in for Gardenhire as manager the final few innings, in his postgame news conference.
The play in question came in a 10-10 game in the 10th inning. Jones, who homered in his first career Opening Day last year in Chicago, entered the game in the seventh inning as a pinch-runner for Victor Martinez. He stepped to the plate with two outs in the 10th after Castellanos beat out a potential double-play grounder at first base.
Castellanos advanced to second on a Josh Smoker wild pitch, then charged around third as Jones' line drive dropped into shallow left field. Left fielder Corey Dickerson threw to the left of the plate, leaving Cervelli to try a swipe tag as Castellanos slid by.
"I had two choices: Stay there and let the ball go to the bag, or go get it and jump and try to tag him," Cervelli said.
Plate umpire Tony Randazzo, who moved behind home plate earlier in the game for an injured Mike Everitt, ruled Castellanos safe, sending the Tigers spilling out of the dugout to pile on Jones around second base. As expected on such a close play, a replay official was going to take a look to make sure.
An initial replay on the Comerica Park scoreboard left the Tigers feeling confident the safe call would stand.
"Everybody stayed out there and did what we were supposed to do," Liddle said, "and then after they showed it on the board several times, the Pirates walked off the field. Because you could not tell from the angles that were provided."
Said Cervelli: "It's tough, because they were celebrating. When you see safe, we'd do the same thing. It's normal."
Major League Baseball's review process in New York, however, includes several different angles, not all of which are shown on the television broadcast. As the review stretched beyond the usual couple of minutes, Liddle wondered what they were seeing.
"The longer it went on," Liddle said, "I told [hitting coach] Lloyd [McClendon], 'That's not good.'"
Said Castellanos: "I didn't feel a tag. I didn't think at any point that I was out. But I don't have super slo-mo cam and all the stuff that they have in New York in their bat cave making all these calls. If there was that one camera that I guess saw him nick my sleeve, so be it."
Cervelli insisted he tagged him.
"I tagged him somewhere," Cervelli said, "and then he didn't touch home plate with the front foot. He did it with the other one. That was the thing. I don't know if they saw something different."
After a three-minute, 41-second review, the replay official definitively determined that Cervelli tagged Castellanos before he could touch the plate. The call was overturned, sending the Tigers back out for the 11th and sending Gardenhire into a fit.
Gardenhire was quickly ejected, the 74th ejection of his Major League managerial career and his first since Aug. 18, 2014, his final season as Twins manager.
"The rule says clear and convincing evidence," Liddle said. "And when I called immediately to our video guy, he said, 'Steve, there's no clear-cut reason why [it should be overturned].'"
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has had enough similar situations to predict what will happen.
"We've all been through it enough," Hurdle said. "There's no reason to think you've got it figured out. As these things continue to play out with the replays, we'll get news from our guy and think we've got a pretty good feel for it. Then something else is called in New York. You just wait it out and see. We thought we had a shot, thought we had a legitimate shot at getting the play our way, because we made a good enough throw and a good enough tag to get him before he touched the plate."