By now, everyone knows Yasiel Puig is capable of generating highlights at the plate, on the basepaths and in the field. Some of them can turn a ballgame, but others can get lost in the shuffle. On Tuesday night, the Dodgers right fielder appeared to make an outstanding assist, but his brilliance was overturned on an instant replay challenge, which changed the course of the entire game. Before the play is lost to history, it’s worth a look.
To set the stage: The Dodgers pounced on Justin Verlander for five runs in the top of the first, with Puig walking and scoring the first of those and Juan Uribe capping the scoring with a two-run homer. While Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu likely appreciated the five-run cushion, the long wait between his pregame warmup and his first inning of work — not to mention the inconsistent strike zone of home plate umpire Paul Schrieber — may have caused him problems. He needed 27 pitches to wobble through a scoreless first inning, and then Torii Hunter smoked his 81 mph changeup all the way to the base of the right field wall to lead off the second.
Hunter dug for second base, but Puig played the carom perfectly. Flat-footed, he threw a perfect one-hop peg to second baseman Miguel Rojas, who applied the tag as second base ump Will Little signaled Hunter out:
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus challenged the call, and after two minutes and 37 seconds of review, Hunter was ruled safe, erasing what would have been Puig’s seventh assist -- not eighth, as the Tiger announcers suggested -- but still enough to tie Arizona's Gerardo Parra for the league lead among right fielders. Around the 59-second mark of the video above, you can see that Hunter’s foot beats the tag.
The leadoff double opened the floodgates, the first of five straight hits the Tigers rapped out against Ryu. They collected eight hits for the inning, and when the dust settled, they had tied the game at 5-5. Detroit added two in the third, chasing Ryu, and the Tigers poured it on with four more in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the seventh to run the score to 14-5.
Still, what a throw.