Arbitrary MLB rule means Braves' Adam Duvall was out when he clearly wasn't

The Milwaukee Brewers came oh-so-close to making a spectacular out on an Adam Duvall pop-up on Tuesday.

In fact, it was close enough that umpires ruled it an out on the field.

The play occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning of a must-win NLDS Game 4 for the Brewers as they trailed the Braves, 2-1, in the best-of-five series. Duvall popped up Eric Lauer's first pitch of the at-bat behind home plate on the third-base side. Catcher Omar Narvaez gave chase, but couldn't come up with the ball.

But third baseman Luis Urias did — or so it appeared. The ball ricocheted off of Narvaez's glove and fell into Urias' as he stretched to make the play in the dirt. Duvall was called out.

But replay told another story. The ball clearly hit the dirt, and Urias trapped the ball instead of catching it for an out. An easy call to correct via replay, right? Not so much.

Rulebook forces wrong call to stand

Braves manager Brian Snitker challenged the play, and umpires went to the headsets to consult with replay officials. They spent an uncommonly short amount of time discussing the review before removing their headsets. Umpire Alfonso Márquez then approached Snitker to deliver the bad news.

Duvall was still out.

Oct 12, 2021; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Luis Urias (2) catches a ball in foul territory that was deflected by catcher Omar Narvaez (10) during the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves during game four of the 2021 ALDS at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Luis Urias didn't quite come up with the catch on this play. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

Replay officials apparently didn't miss the ball clearly hitting the dirt before bouncing into Urias' glove. They weren't allowed to review it in the first place, hence the brief consultation. As it turns out, infield pop-up plays are not eligible for review.

Why? Here's the explanation from the MLB rulebook:

"Catch plays in the outfield: An umpire's decision whether a fielder caught a fly ball or a line drive in flight in the outfield before it hit the ground is reviewable, but fly balls or line drives fielded by a defensive player in the infield is not eligible for review."

So instead of facing an 0-1 count with no outs and a man on first, Duvall recorded the first out of the inning. The Braves eventually loaded the bases and scored two runs in the fourth to tie the game at 2-2, so it wasn't a total loss for Atlanta. But we'll never know how things would have played out if replay officials were allowed to correct the obviously wrong call.

Duvall did get a little bit of karmic redemption, as another infield pop-up in the seventh inning fell for an odd hit between the Brewers' pitcher and first baseman. The Braves went on to secure a series-clinching 5-4 win, so the missed call didn't en up impacting the game's outcome.