Non-call kept Reds rally alive

A close call went against the Brewers right in the middle of the Reds’ ninth-inning rally on Thursday, a four-run scoring burst that ended with a bang on Ramon Hernandez’s game-winning, three-run home run. Part of Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee was still wondering afterward if Hernandez should have batted at all.

Four batters earlier, Scott Rolen batted with runners at first and second base and nobody out and hit a chopper to McGehee, who tried tagging Brandon Phillips — the runner going from second to third base — before throwing to first. Phillips juked, McGehee missed, and his throw was late.

“That was the Ochocinco special,” Phillips said, referring to the Cincinnati Bengals receiver-turned-Major League Soccer hopeful. “I just saw where it was at and did a little slide move.

McGehee knew he missed the tag but argued with rookie umpire Dan Bellino that Phillips had left the baseline. Had that been the call, then Hernandez would have been on deck for Jonny Gomes’ game-ending fly-out. Instead, Gomes’ sacrifice fly cut the deficit to two and Hernandez’s homer erased it.

Bellino, incidentally, was working his first Major League Opening Day. He’s one of three new umpires this season.

Here’s the rule in question, 7.08(a)(1). It says, “Any runner is out when 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.  A runner’s baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely.”

So, should Phillips have been out? From the replay, it was very tough to tell.

“Obviously, my opinion doesn’t really matter,” McGehee said. “But if my first inclination was that he was not out of the baseline, I would have made sure I kept going towards him a little bit more than I did instead of also trying to make a throw. In hindsight, I wish I had just come through and made a throw to first and not even worried about him.”

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke came out to argue his player’s case, but in the game’s immediate aftermath, he wasn’t sure.

“It’s hard for me to see where the guy starts,” Roenicke said. “It’s not on the line where the base path is, it’s where that guy starts. So he creates his own base path. And if he started back behind the bag, then where he ended up probably was more than the three feet, but I don’t know where he started.”


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What a painful way for the game to end. Oh well, at least there’s 161 more to play…

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