There are holes in MLB's replay system, like there are holes in anything. Judgment calls still come into play, and Saturday was a large one.
In a key American League Central game between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals on Saturday, a bad throw turned into controversy, which turned into what looked like a Royals run before that run was taken off the board on a play that was deemed not reviewable.
It started when former Tiger Omar Infante lined out to Ian Kinsler. Kinsler turned and lackadaisically threw toward second in an attempt to double off the runner there. The ball went wide and, Salvador Perez, who opened the play at third base, went racing home for what appeared to be a 2-1 lead.
The problem was, Perez got excited and didn't full go back to third base on the play.
And the only person who seemed to see it right away was Tigers reserve Hernan Perez, who was sitting on the bench.
The problem with that is that tag plays aren't reviewable. And, when Detroit initially threw the ball to third and tagged the bag to protest the tag, it was ruled Perez was safe.
"(Tigers manager Brad) Ausmus comes out and wants to challenge the play, that he didn't tag up,” crew chief Larry Vanover said. “And I said, 'OK, I'm like 90 percent that retagging on a line drive or a fly ball is not a reviewable play.' And he said, 'Well, what's the difference between missing a base and tagging up? It's the same thing.' I said, 'Well, I see your point, but my understanding, the rules state tagging up, you can't review that.' And he says, 'Well, can you check? Can you check and make sure? Because the guy didn't tag up."
How was it resolved?
Since they couldn't video review the play, the umpires huddled up and took a consensus, ruling that Salvador Perez had not touched third base to tag up. The run was taken off the board, an out was assessed and, ultimately, the Tigers beat the Royals 3-2 in a crucial game that gave the Tigers a 2.5-game divisional lead entering Sunday.
Royals manager Ned Yost did come out to question the opinion reversal without replay, as he should. But, the crew did get the call right.
"I think everything was too fast for me," Salvador Perez told mlb.com. "When Kinsler caught the ball, I came back to the base and he threw the ball to Suarez, and he missed. ... I never thought about tagging, only if [the throw] came toward the base I'd put my foot on the base. But as soon as he dropped it, I just want to score for the team and that's what I did, go to home plate."
Ausmus was just happy that the call was ultimately corrected.
"I don't envy the umpires' position there, because if it's not challengeable, 45,000 people know what the right call is, including all the umpires and both teams," Ausmus told MLB.com. "It's not an enviable position to be in, but ultimately, the goal is to get the call right. And they got the call right."
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