Fowler takes flight to ignite Rox rally
Leap over Utley helps lead to three-run inning
DENVER -- Dexter Fowler wasn't necessarily trying to kickstart an improbable rally on Monday when he took to the air on the basepaths during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Phillies.
In all honesty, the Rockies center fielder said was trying to stay out of the way, though his acrobatic leap over Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley accomplished more than that in fueling a wild eighth-inning comeback.
"When I saw him, the ball was coming, so I was looking to avoid the tag," Fowler said. "I just jumped. I think that it caught him off-guard some."
In that eighth inning, and with the Rockies trailing 2-1, Fowler walked with one out and then found himself hurtling toward second base when teammate Todd Helton grounded a ball directly at Utley.
The ball arrived in Utley's glove as Fowler closed quickly, too quick to do anything other than swerve to his right abruptly and leap over the shoulder of Utley, who looked stunned at what was happening.
Fowler slid into second base safely while Utley, trying to recover to get at least one out on the play, backhanded the ball toward shortstop Jimmy Rollins for a force attempt at second base. But Rollins dropped the ball and Fowler was safe.
"I was anticipating him running into me, and apparently he leaped over me or something. He's a good athlete," Utley said after the game, one that ended with the Phillies scoring three runs in the ninth inning for a 5-4 series-clinching victory.
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel jogged from the dugout and briefly discussed the play with second-base umpire Tim Timmons. But the play stood.
Major League Baseball Rule No. 7.08 (a) states that a "runner is out if he runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball."
Also, Rule No. 7.09 (f) states that if "in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball, with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead; the umpire shall call the batter-runner out for interference ..."
|Gm. 1||PHI 5, COL 1||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 2||COL 5, PHI 4||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 3||PHI 6, COL 5||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 4||PHI 5, COL 4||Wrap||Video|
Neither one applied in Timmons' estimation.
Fowler's leap of faith proved important when, one out later, pinch-hitter Jason Giambi hit an opposite-field single to left field to score Fowler with the tying run. Yorvit Torrealba then followed with a two-run double for a 4-2 lead.
"That play was big, that gave us a chance to come back and almost win the game," said Carlos Gonzalez. "That was just an athletic play. Dexter has a chance to be a very special player."
Yes, it wasn't the most conventional way to get back in a game, but it worked well for Fowler, who wasn't able to enjoy his moment long, not after the Phillies wiped out the lead with three runs of their own in the ninth inning.
"It was a big play at the time, it gave us the momentum," he said. "But then it shifted to them just as quickly."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.