10/05/08 6:45 PM ET
More than field an advantage at Miller
Counsell catches ball off retractable roof in sixth inning
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
In what may have been a first for this season at Miller Park, a batted ball struck the roof and was caught for an out.
The bizarre play came with one out in the sixth inning when Philadelphia's Jayson Werth skied a fly ball that appeared to be headed to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in left field. Shortstop J.J. Hardy went back on the ball, and suddenly, it changed direction.
An alert Hardy pointed toward third baseman Craig Counsell, who reacted quickly to make a diving catch on the dirt infield in the area of shortstop.
Had the ball dropped in fair territory, it would have been a hit.
All the players involved said they had never seen a ball strike the roof.
"I've never seen that. I've never seen that in BP. I've never seen that in a game," Hardy said. "I was going back, and I figured Braun was going to be underneath it, so I gave up on it. I saw it hit the thing and I started yelling at Counsell, because his head was down. I pointed at the ball. [At] the last minute, he spotted it. It was a great play."
Counsell was as shocked as anyone that the ball went toward him.
"That's a first," Counsell said. "I kind of put my head down and went to third base, because that's where I would want to be in case something would happen. Then I heard J.J. yelling and I looked up, and the ball was coming my way. I looked in the right spot, right when I heard J.J. yelling. It's like, 'The sky is falling.'"
To the recollection of Miller Park employees, it's the first time the retractable roof factored into a play, at least this season, and perhaps in the history of the park.
The roof rules at Miller Park read: "If caught by a fielder, a batter is out, and runners advance at their own risk."
Werth's ball actually struck a buckle used to support a cable. The buckle dangled from the roof.
If the ball had struck the roof in foul territory, the ball would have been ruled a dead ball. But Werth's fly ball was fair.
"We didn't know what the rule was, either," Braun said. "I didn't know if it was a dead ball, a double, or what. I was underneath it, and all of a sudden, I saw it take a crazy bounce. That was a phenomenal play by Counsell, a great reaction play."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.