Watch: Blown call stifles Phillies' ninth-inning rally
The Phillies entered the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday afternoon trailing the Brewers 4-2, but with interim closer Francisco Rodriguez on the mound for the Brewers, they quickly narrowed the lead to 4-3 and put the tying run on second base via a leadoff home run by Freddy Galvis, a single by Jimmy Rollins, and a sacrifice bunt by Ben Revere. With just one out, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel sent pitcher Kyle Kendrick in to pinch-run for Rollins at second base, representing the tying run, only to watch Kendrick get picked off. Wait, let's see that again:
The ball did beat Kendrick to the bag, and Brewers shortstop Jean Segura did catch it, but Segura had to make a diving stop to catch the ball and the ground jarred it loose before he tagged Kendrick. The ball then rolled under Kendrick's body only to be deflected back into Segura's bare hand, all out of the view of second-base umpire Mike Estabrook, who called Kendrick out when Segura, in a great piece of salesmanship, held the ball aloft.
It's hard to fault Estabrook too much on that call given how well the ball was blocked from any infield view while it was on the ground. Estabrook would have had to have been standing behind second base to see it, which is not standard positioning for a second base umpire with a man on base, and consulting his fellow umpires wouldn't have helped as they were all on the infield-side of the play as well.
Still, the call was blown and the replay was indisputable. It would have taken almost no time at all for an umpiring crew with the authority to review that play to get it right, leaving the Phillies with a man on second and one out rather than two outs and the bases empty. Based on the games played through the end of May this season, teams average 0.659 runs scored in the former situation and just 0.098 runs scored in the latter. In this game, the man at the plate when Kendrick was called out, rookie second baseman Cesar Hernandez, doubled, a hit that would have tied the game if the right call had been made on Kendrick. Instead, Rodriguez was able to work around the double by intentionally walking the red-hot Domonic Brown and getting Michael Martinez to ground out to save the Brewers' 4-3 win. Fortunately, expanded instant replay is on its way. It's just a shame it won't be here until next season.