Lucroy, Roenicke say umps got it right
For a few fleeting moments in the eighth inning Sunday, Jonathan Lucroy had homered for the third straight day, this time a grand slam. Then the umpires went to the video tape.
In the first use of replay review this season involving a Brewers batter, Lucroy’s slam was turned into a three-run triple by an umpiring crew led by Tom Hallion. Lucroy was eventually stranded at third base, and the Brewers went to the bottom of the eighth inning trailing by three runs in what became a spirited, 7-5 loss to the Phillies.
Neither Lucroy nor Brewers manager Ron Roenicke mounted an argument.
“I thought it was the right call,” Roenicke said. “They said it has to clear that little fence there, and to me, it looked like it hit the little fence. My eyes aren’t that good, but that’s what it looked like.”
“It didn’t go out,” Lucroy said.
The Brewers trailed, 7-0, entering the eighth before staging a rally against Phillies starter Cliff Lee. He’d allowed only three hits through seven innings before surrendering four singles and a run in the eighth, exiting in favor of right-handed reliever Justin De Fratus with two outs and two runners on.
Aramis Ramirez walked to load the bases for Lucroy, who homered twice in Friday’s series opener, added a key insurance homer Saturday and entered Sunday batting .462 over a seven-game hitting streak that was on the line entering his final at-bat. He fouled off four consecutive two-strike pitches, then connected with a slider and sent it down the left-field line where the ball caromed off the top of the outfield fence.
The initial call was home run, but after a lengthy review, Hallion emerged with a reversal.
“It hit the top of that wire fence and kicked hard to the right back into play,” Hallion said. “I had thought it hit the back green [a wall beyond the fence], but it hit the top of that fence and kicked right. So once we realized it was not home run, I had the crew and we each put together where the ball went to, who picked the ball up and then we just put the runners where [their best judgment said they should be].”
The outfield fence at Citizens Bank Park is particularly tricky. It consists of a green padded wall topped by two metal fences with a flower bed in-between. A hit that lands in the flower bed is a home run, but Lucroy’s struck the railing in front of the flowers and caromed back into play.
Illustrating one of the challenges of instant replay in baseball, Hallion said positioning the runners took time.
“The easy part was seeing where the ball hit and seeing that it was not a home run,” Hallion said.
“He ruled it a triple. In our yard, I don’t know,” Phillies manager Charlie Mahuel said. “First of all, you can’t argue with the decision anyway. At the same time, I look at it and I was hoping it was a double. It would save two runs that way [versus a grand slam]. It didn’t happen. It’s just the way it went. It turned out OK for us.”
Here are some photos of the area where Lucroy’s hit struck the railing atop the padded wall, and a look at that complicated set-up of plantings. There is a sizable gap of several feet between the railing that Lucroy struck, and the green wall from which some fans speculated the baseball must have caromed:
Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy