Bad call adds to Cubs' Opening Day woes
Piniella argues, but says 'that wasn't why we lost the game'
ATLANTA -- Turner Field has one of the largest high-definition video displays in the world, measuring nearly 80 feet high, but umpire Marvin Hudson never looked at it.
It was the sixth inning Monday when the Cubs needed Hudson to take a peek. They had closed to 8-5 against the Atlanta Braves thanks to Aramis Ramirez's two-run homer in the third. He singled to open the sixth and Marlon Byrd then lofted a ball to deep left-center. Atlanta's Nate McLouth made what looked like a diving catch to Hudson. But it wasn't.
"I thought he trapped the ball from my vantage point," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
Replays clearly showed McLouth did drop the ball, which is what Ramirez saw and why he advanced to second base. Byrd thought McLouth caught it. Ramirez was doubled off 8-6-3, and instead of having runners at first and second, the Cubs had two outs in the sixth.
"It was vivid, right in front of the replay," Piniella said. "I told the umpire, 'Just look at the replay and you'll get the correct call.'"
But Hudson, the second-base umpire, didn't look, and after conferring with the rest of the crew, upheld the double-play call.
"That play there, the baserunner has to pick up the umpire closest to the play and hang halfway," Piniella said. "Look, that wasn't why we lost the game. We lost the ballgame because we didn't pitch and we walked way, way too many people."
The Cubs did lose, 16-5, to the Braves, and did walk eight. All but two of the Braves who drew walks scored.
Ramirez said he saw McLouth reach for the ball and the ball drop.
"[Hudson] is a good guy -- he just missed it," Ramirez said. "[McLouth] dropped the ball, no doubt about it. [Hudson] just missed the play."
Byrd, who hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat for the Cubs in the first, didn't see a replay.
"'Ramy' said he saw it, and guys said they saw it," Byrd said. "The umpires don't have the benefit of replay on those balls. It's one of those, you keep your chin up and try to go back out and get more runs."
He's not advocating any additional instant replay, saying "I like the human element." The Braves then scored six runs in the seventh en route to the win.
"It was a momentum change," Byrd said of the play in the sixth. "I've played against the Braves. They know how to play. They don't let anything affect them. They don't get too high or too low. They got some hits, kept rolling, scored some runs and the rest is history."
The Cubs also were doubled up in the fifth when pinch-hitter Chad Tracy walked and was snared when Ryan Theriot lined out to short.
"Those things shouldn't happen," Piniella said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.