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Inside-the-park homers are rare enough as it is — just six were hit last year — but Friday saw history made with the first such homer overturned by the new instant replay review system. The victim was the Nationals' Ian Desmond, whose mad dash around the bases was negated when umpires ruled that the ball getting lodged in the padding of Nationals Park's leftfield wall limited him to a ground-rule double.
Batting in the fifth inning against the Braves' David Hale, Desmond jerked a pitch down the leftfield line and into the corner. Instead of caroming, the ball became wedged in the tight space between the warning track and the bottom of the padding in foul territory, closer to the corner than the foul line. Before the umpires ruled that the ball was dead, leftfielder Justin Upton held up his hands to signal that he couldn't make the play; Desmond kept motoring and scored standing up while Upton belatedly retrieved the ball.
Once the play ended, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez quite reasonably asked for an explanation, and after the umpires — headed by crew chief Jim Joyce — conferred, they went to the headsets as the play was reviewed at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York. Resolution was delayed by technical difficulties such that it took about five minutes to sort things out, but when the dust settled, the umpires ruled that Rule 7.05(f) applied:
(f) Two bases, if a fair ball bounces or is deflected into the stands outside the first or third base foul lines; or if it goes through or under a field fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence; or if it sticks in such fence, scoreboard, shrubbery or vines;Desmond was sent back to second; apparently suffering from a bad case of shpilkes, he was thrown out trying to steal third during the ensuing Jose Lobaton at-bat. It was Washington's third out on the bases during the game. Bryce Harper had been thrown out stealing in the second inning during Desmond's first at-bat, and Adam LaRoche had been thrown out at home on a double to leftfield and a relay throw from cannon-armed Andrelton Simmons, preserving Atlanta's 1-0 lead for the moment.