One thing's for certain about the expanded replay era in Major League Baseball: There's more bureaucracy to the game.
The Cleveland Indians turned a triple play against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the bottom of the fourth inning Tuesday night, an unconventional event in itself (scored 7-2-4) that sounds exciting, and seemed so at the time. But when you add the detail that it required two video replay reviews taking about 4 1/2 minutes in total to become official, the moment becomes more technicality than achievement.
With runners at the corners and his team trailing by two runs, Adrian Gonzalez hit a looping liner to outfielder Michael Brantley, who charged in from left and made a running catch. Probably the speediest player in the league, Dee Gordon challenged Brantley's arm — and lost — after a brief hesitation by Brantley and a perfect throw home to catcher Yan Gomes for the second out.
The Indians' left fielder knew his relay to the plate was on target, but he did not assume that he had the fleet-footed Gordon nabbed.
"No, he's fast," Brantley said. "I was just trying to make the best throw I can, but obviously keep the ball down at the same time. You've got a guy on first, you don't want him to let him stroll into second. My whole goal was to keep the ball down and throw the best ball I could."
Pleased with the double play, Gomes briefly took his eyes off Yasiel Puig, who was running to second and daring the Indians to make another perfect throw. Gomes gathered himself and threw to second, where Puig was called safe by the umpire. Infielder Jason Kipnis immediately gestured to his dugout to make a challenge and the waiting game was on.
"Puig is all over the field," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That kid plays hard."
Umpires checked and, yes, Kipnis had tagged Puig on the shoulder before Puig's hands reached the bag. Triple play! The Indians started to walk off the field, but when Dodgers manager Don Mattingly came out to challenge the call at home — because seemingly every call at home is challenged anymore — umpires ordered Cleveland back to its defensive positions. About 90 seconds later, the second challenge confirmed the call at home — which had seemed obvious all along — and the triple play was confirmed.
"[MLB officials] explained to us early on that this exact thing could happen," Francona said, "and how'd they go about it and everything. You want to get the play right -- that's the most important thing."
He's right; it's better to get the call right. It's not necessarily as enjoyable to watch, though.
The Indians won 10-3.
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