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PHOENIX – Major League Baseball vice president Joe Torre stressed that the expanded replay procedure, like anything new, would not be perfect.
Boy was he right.
The Giants’ first experience with a replay challenge was nothing short of disastrous in the fourth inning Tuesday night at Chase Field.
Earlier in the game, Bochy twice went onto the field to argue – presumably to buy time to receive information from Giants replay advisor Shawon Dunston, who sat in front of a bank of specially designed monitors in the clubhouse.
In the first inning, Joaquin Arias hit a line drive that landed near the chalk in right field and was ruled foul. The Giants did not challenge. In the third, Hunter Pence hit a ground ball and Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt appeared to be pulled off the bag while receiving the throw. Pence was called out and again, the Giants did not challenge.
Bochy came out to argue again in the fourth after Arizona’s A.J. Pollock was called safe on a pickoff play. At least one replay angle appeared to show that first baseman Brandon Belt applied the tag before Pollock’s hand reached the bag. The Giants challenged this time, and Pollock even mouthed the words, “They got me” after watching the replay on the stadium jumbo screen.
But the Giants did not win. After a delay that lasted nearly three minutes, the replay official in New York ruled that the call would stand. Translation: There wasn’t conclusive evidence to overturn it.
Under replay rules, when a team wins a challenge they retain the right to challenge one more time. When they lose, they cannot challenge again. Umpires have discretion to institute their own review without a challenge, but only after the seventh inning. (Exceptions include plays that are reviewable but not subject to a challenge, such as home runs, the catcher collision rule or to confirm the count or score.)
So what happened next was painful, indeed. Matt Cain’s first pitch to Gerardo Parra after the delay resulted in a double that put runners at second and third. Then Cain appeared to cross up Buster Posey on a pitch that squirted out of the catcher’s glove and dribbled away. Pollock raced home, Cain received the throw from Posey and the pitcher stuck his glove in front of the plate, tagging the runner on the cleat.
Plate umpire Eric Cooper called Pollock safe, Cain began hopping up and down in protest … and there was absolutely nothing that Bochy, Dunston or anyone else could do about it.
It was the fourth inning, not the seventh or later. So umpires couldn’t review the play, either.
Replays were conclusive enough: Pollock was out.
If the point of expanded replay is to get the calls right on the field, well, it’s a work in progress all right.