Instant replay stole free baseball from fans at PNC Park last night. They didn’t complain.
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte belted a triple in the bottom of the ninth off Giants starter Tim Hudson. When second baseman Ehire Adrianza botched the relay throw to third, Marte raced home to end the 1-1 deadlock. But the ball arrived before the base runner and the umpire called him out. “And we’re going to extra innings for the second straight night,” the Pirates play-by-play man announced.
Not so fast–Pirates manager Clint Hurdle approached the home-plate umpire Quinn Walcott to protest the call. The replay showed that Buster Posey had applied the tag to Marte’s chest after his extended hand had reached home on the head-first slide. Walcott gave the “safe” signal to the delight of the half-empty ballpark.
The Pirates victory marks the first time since Major League Baseball expanded instant replay prior to this season that a review has resulted in an immediate victory for the aggrieved party of a bad call on the field.
The replay rule had begun to come under fire immediately prior to saving last night’s game. “With limiting language, but no freeing language, the replay rules lock the umpires into calls which may be incorrect, even though the ability exists to at least try to set things right,” Jesse Spector wrote at the Sporting News earlier this week. “Only certain plays may be reviewed, and if there is a play that ought to be reviewable, but nobody thought to include it in the replay rules, tough luck. This leads to inconsistent application of technology, where it is allowable to review whether a pitch hit a batter, but not a batted ball.”
In correcting Tuesday night’s injustice, the replay booth created an injustice. Giants starter Tim Hudson, pitching a complete game five-hitter, got the loss on an unearned run. He wishes he could have a replay, too.