Replay gives Molina homer, but not run
Giants catcher awarded shot after review; pinch-runner scores
SAN FRANCISCO -- Henceforth, Omar Vizquel will be known not only for his soft hands, but also his "bionic ears," in Giants manager Bruce Bochy's words.It was Vizquel's keen hearing that led to the first case of instant replay being implemented at AT&T Park. Friday night's reversed call resulted in a two-run homer for Giants catcher Bengie Molina that initially appeared to be a single off the top of the right-field wall. San Francisco proceeded to outlast the Los Angeles Dodgers in 10 innings, 6-5. But Molina was replaced by pinch-runner Emmanuel Burriss and didn't receive credit for scoring the run -- although he did record his 16th homer and two RBIs. The scene: Pablo Sandoval was on first base via a single with one out in the sixth inning. Molina's first-pitch drive off Dodgers right-hander Scott Proctor caromed off the wall, a few feet to the left of the "Splash Hits" sign. Molina held at first base while Sandoval advanced to third. In the Giants' dugout, Bochy had ordered Burriss to pinch-run for Molina if the ponderous runner reached base. With Molina standing on first, Burriss dashed out to replace him. Meanwhile ... "We couldn't tell if it was out, and the umpires didn't see it," Bochy said. "There was no reaction from anybody that that ball was a home run. Then Omar came up and said he thought it hit the metal." That would be the green metal awning along part of the right-field wall. Magically, a ball appeared -- supposedly the one that Molina hit -- which served as evidence. "I don't know where the ball came from, but it rolled back to me and I saw it had green paint on it," Bochy said. "I said, 'Wait a minute.'" Bochy then showed the ball to the umpiring crew and discussed reversing the call. Crew chief Tim Welke acknowledged that replay should be tried. "The play happened," Welke said. "Burriss came out to run at first. Bochy comes out and wants us to confer. We conferred and decided to use the replay. We took a look and the ball clearly hit the green part of the wall, which is part of the ground rules that a ball hitting any part of the green thing [is] a home run." All televised MLB games are monitored and staffed by an expert technician and either an umpire supervisor or a former umpire at Major League Baseball Advanced Media headquarters in New York. A television monitor and a secure telephone link to MLB.com, placed next to the monitor, have been installed at all 30 ballparks.
If the crew chief determines that instant replay review is necessary on a particular disputed home run, he calls the MLB.com technician, who then transmits the most appropriate video footage to the crew chief and the umpire crew on site. The umpire supervisor or former umpire does not have direct communication with any of the umpires on site, and the decision to reverse a call is at the sole discretion of the crew chief. The standard used by the crew chief when reviewing a play is whether there is clear and convincing evidence that the umpire's decision on the field was incorrect and should be reversed. The use of replay is limited only to home runs: in or out, fair or foul, and fan interference.
Burriss circled the bases enthusiastically, and not just because the Giants tied the score."It was hilarious," he said. "It was such a weird play. You don't know how to react. I even stood there at first base for a second when they said it was a home run. I asked [first-base coach] Roberto [Kelly] and I even asked the umpire, does Bengie come back out and run for himself? Roberto kind of gave me a push and the umpire told me to run, so I said, 'OK, I'll take it.'" Molina greeted Burriss in the dugout with a compliment. "Good swing," Molina said. But Bochy wasn't entirely happy. Due to the ruling, he wanted Molina to stay in the game. After further discussions with the umpires, he opted to play the game under protest, which of course became moot following the Giants' victory. "We know the rules," Welke said. "Once a pinch-runner touches a base, he's in the game whether he's put in or not. Boch wanted to protest the game. You can't go back and revisit history. We informed the official scorer that the game was being protested. In retrospect, [Bochy] should have come out and discussed it before the pinch-runner. There is a rule that covers pinch-runners and that's the one we went by. All we have is the rules. This was a learning experience for everybody. The system worked and we got it right." Since the Dodgers had clinched the National League West title one day earlier, Los Angeles manager Joe Torre felt little urgency. He barely made a peep when the umpires explained their ruling. "If it's an effort to speed up the game," Torre said, referring to the 12-minute interruption, "I don't think that worked. It was an interesting protest from Boch. I can't argue when the umpires go back and look at the replay, but I thought it was all sort of strange. Bochy felt he should have been allowed to put Molina back in the game. I felt he should have argued [the home run] before he used the pinch-runner. There's no rule governing that." Said Welke, "We were just keeping Joe informed. We already had a run-in with him regarding substitutions in St. Louis. He said, 'Been there, done that.'" Not really, since it was only the seventh time replay had been implemented and just the second time a call was reversed.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.