First of two Cubs-Bucs challenges is MLB's first
Cubs manager Renteria asks for play to be reviewed; 10th-inning play overturned
PITTSBURGH -- In the first use of expanded instant replay in the history of Major League Baseball, Cubs manager Rick Renteria challenged a play at first base in the fifth inning of the Pirates' 1-0, walk-off win at PNC Park on Monday.
With the game scoreless, the Cubs had runners at first and second with nobody out when pitcher Jeff Samardzija bunted toward the third-base side. Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano fielded the ball and threw to third baseman Pedro Alvarez to get the runner, and he then fired to second baseman Neil Walker, who was covering first.
Samardzija, a former All-America wide receiver at Notre Dame who runs well, signaled safe as he crossed the bag, but first-base umpire Bob Davidson called the pitcher out. Renteria went out to talk to Davidson, and he challenged the call.
Did Renteria want the play reviewed because of Samardzija's reaction?
"When I went out there, it was a combination of that and what we were looking at," Renteria said. "We were already in the fifth inning, and if he's safe, [we have runners at] first and second, as opposed to just a man on second. I thought it was a time to give ourselves an opportunity to get a call."
Did Samardzija signal safe because he heard something?
"I was just trying to coax the call right there, trying to grease the slicks a little bit, but it didn't work," he said, with a little chuckle. "I knew it was close. I couldn't really tell if I was safe or out. They handled it well, the umpires did a great job and it went nice and quick, and we didn't have to sit around, and Liriano didn't have to stand around too long. I thought it went pretty smooth."
After Davidson and home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck consulted with the Replay Operations Center at Major League Baseball Advanced Media's headquarters in New York, the call was confirmed. Handled by MLBAM replay technician Timothy Akins and MLB umpire Larry Vanover, the ruling was made in about 90 seconds.
"That could've been a big change in the game for them, maybe lead to something happening for them," Walker said. "It slowed the game down a bit and the fans were probably not too excited about it, but they got the call right."
The replay was shown on the video scoreboard at PNC Park, which is part of the new replay process.
In the top of the 10th, the Pirates became the second beneficiaries of a call overturned in MLB history. With the game scoreless, relief pitcher Bryan Morris made a pick-off throw to first base, but Davidson signaled the runner, Emilio Bonifacio, safe.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle made his way onto the field to engage Davidson, who, along with Hirschbeck, immediately went to the headsets to consult with the Replay Operations Center.
After 2 1/2 minutes, the umpires made their way back to the middle of the field and signaled Bonifacio out.
"First, I thought he just hit me in the face, but after I saw the replay, I was out," Bonifacio said. "I didn't feel anything on my shoulder at first."
Said Renteria: "The one with Bonifacio, I couldn't really make it out myself. I'm still trying to figure out what the clear and convincing evidence is supposed to be. It's a work in progress. They have a lot of people looking at those videos in New York. They must have gotten it right."
The Cubs have video coordinator Naoto Masamoto and quality assurance coach Jose Castro as the extra eyes in the clubhouse, watching replays of any questionable calls.
"I think like all of us, it's going to be something that's ongoing, correcting ourselves, setting up a system to communicate with each other," Renteria said before the game. "I'm sure we'll muff some and get some right. The process will be developed and perfected over time. It's new to everybody, and we're all cognizant of that and we'll keep trying to do the best we can with that."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.