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05/13/09 11:51 PM ET
Replay reverses two would-be homers
Roundtripper overturned for first -- and second -- time ever
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
Instant replay was used to reverse a home run for the first time Wednesday night, and not long afterward it was used again with the same outcome: another home run trot that was for naught.
The two would-be home runs hit by the Pirates' Adam LaRoche in Pittsburgh and the Marlins' Ross Gload in Milwaukee were overturned after umpiring crews took second looks at replay. Neither team losing a homer argued the reversals.
LaRoche got an RBI double out of his drive to right field after the first instance of instant replay at PNC Park. But Gload's pinch-hit appearance went from circling the bases to heading back to the dugout following a strikeout once the first replay at Miller Park was complete.
"I'm not a big fan of [replay] right now, but they got it right," Gload said. "That was only one of my strikes, though. I had two more strikes left."
LaRoche hit a high drive to right field with a runner on second and two outs in the first inning of the Cardinals-Pirates game. The ball caromed off of a screen protecting fans in the front row of the right-field bleachers above the 21-foot wall then bounced back onto the field of play. LaRoche initially was awarded a home run when first-base umpire Lance Barksdale circled his finger in the air, but the Cardinals quickly contested the call.
"The guys on the bench saw it, and then Albert [Pujols] and Shane [Robinson] saw it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
LaRoche was among those unconvinced it had left the field of play. He hesitated at second base before making his circuit.
"I thought it hit the fence," LaRoche said. "Then they said it was a homer and I thought maybe I missed it. The second-base umpire is the one that told me it was a home run. Before they reviewed it, I thought I was going back out there. I wasn't surprised -- I would have been shocked if it stayed a home run."
And it did not. Crew chief Randy Marsh, along with Alfonso Marquez and Barksdale watched the replay, and Marsh quickly changed the call to a double.
"They went right to it, no question, and it saved us a run," La Russa said.
In Milwaukee, Brewers starter Braden Looper was spared two runs.
The Brewers had an 8-5 lead in the top of the sixth inning when Gload connected on a Looper pitch for what first-base umpire Bruce Dreckman called a two-run home run down the right-field line, over an 8-foot wall. Prince Fielder, playing first base for the Brewers, immediately objected, and crew chief Gary Darling gathered the umps before ducking into the tunnel behind home plate.
Darling emerged just two minutes later with a new call: Foul ball. Gload eventually struck out to end the inning. The Marlins did not argue the reversal.
"We just got together and looked at the replay, and the ball was foul," Darling said. "Pretty simple. Nothing out of the ordinary."
Looper sounded thankful in more ways than one.
"I knew it was foul from where I was standing," he said. "I think the home plate umpire knew it was foul, too, right away. From where I stood, it looked like it was 4-5 feet foul.
"The positive thing is that it did go pretty fast. Luckily, we do [have instant replay] now, because if you call that a homer and it counts, it's really a shame. Luckily, they got it right."
Even Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez agreed.
"I thought it was foul from the dugout," he said. "I thought maybe it had nicked the foul pole or something, but they got it right, I guess. It eliminates arguments. It eliminates managers getting thrown out of games for arguing, because you can always go to the replay.
"As long as we get those plays right, I'm all in for it. As long as they get it right. If there wasn't replay, I go out, they call it a home run and get together and it's foul -- I go argue, I get thrown out of the game. [Brewers manager] Ken [Macha] gets thrown out of the game. That doesn't serve anybody. As long as they get it right and we have the technology to do it ... but that's it, no more. I don't want bang-bang plays at first or strikes or anything like that."
Major League Baseball started using replay last August to determine whether balls were home runs or not. There have been a total of 14 calls reviewed, with four reversals overall. Carlos Pena and Bengie Molina were awarded homers last year after replay was used on plays that were not originally ruled home runs. Seven plays have been reviewed this season, with the Wednesday calls the first reversals.
Despite benefiting from one Wednesday, Macha said he's still not a fan of replays.
"I'm not," Macha said. "This doesn't change that fact. I don't think instant replay would have come into play on that. I think the first base umpire would have gone and asked the home plate umpire what he saw. I'm sure they would have huddled up and asked everybody's opinion on that one."