Braves challenge sets up big homer
Umpires overturn Heyward out call; B.J. follows with go-ahead three-run shot
MIAMI -- If Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was attempting to find some positives out of this week's three-game series at Marlins Park, he might have to dip way down to the fact that he exited town still perfect in the challenge department.
Gonzalez's latest successful challenge enabled the Braves to erase an early lead on Thursday night. But it was not enough to prevent a 5-4 loss that forced his club to deal with being swept for the first time this season.
Gonzalez rushed on the field after first-base umpire Jim Reynolds ruled that Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez had tagged Jason Heyward before he got to first base in the third inning. After hitting a chopper fielded by first baseman Garrett Jones, Heyward sprinted down the line and slid head-first into the bag as Alvarez struggled to handle Jones' flip.
"I couldn't tell," Gonzalez said. "But I knew that Jason reacted and [first-base coach Terry Pendleton] reacted. It was legs and elbows and gloves and helmets going over there at first base."
Once receiving a message relayed by Braves replay coordinator Horacio Ramirez, Gonzalez issued a challenge. After review, the umpires overturned Reynolds' call. The replay showed that Alvarez tagged Heyward with his glove, which was on his left hand, while attempting to secure the baseball in his right hand.
"That is what the replay is there for," Gonzalez said. "We got it right at the end. I couldn't tell he didn't tag him because the ball was in his right hand. But when you slow it down, you actually see what happened."
Moments after the review, B.J. Upton gave the Braves a 3-2 lead with a three-run home run off Alvarez.
Gonzalez has been successful with each of the three challenges he has issued this year. This was his first since an April 4 game at Nationals Park.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.