Replay might have made a difference

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons argues a Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons argues a call with first base umpire Scott Barry and gets ejected in the fifth inning of a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. (Aug. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Fast-forward to next season and this becomes a lot easier.

Two plays in the Yankees' game against Toronto likely would have been changed had each team's manager had the option of requesting a review.

Instead, the Yankees lost out on a close call at first base and Toronto manager John Gibbons was ejected while arguing a puzzling play.

Under proposed expanded replay rules, each manager would receive three challenges, one that could be used before the seventh inning. That would have come in handy Thursday.

With two on and two outs in the fourth, Alex Rodriguez hit a hard grounder that bounced off pitcher J.A. Happ's leg and toward third baseman Brett Lawrie. Lawrie's throw reached first as A-Rod arrived, and Scott Barry called Rodriguez out.

Slow-motion replays showed Rodriguez's foot clearly hit the bag before the ball reached Edwin Encarnacion. "I was just frustrated," A-Rod said. "That ball could have gone through there and that kid at third made an unbelievable play."

At least that play was a somewhat common mistake, given the split-second difference involved. The play on which Gibbons got tossed was far more perplexing.

With the bases full of Yankees, one out and a 1-1 tie in the fifth, Vernon Wells lined to center -- into a force play.

The official play-by-play has Rajai Davis fielding the ball and firing to second baseman Munenori Kawasaki, who tagged out Chris Stewart. Eduardo Nuñez scored on the play to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

What actually happened was far more confusing. Even to Stewart.

Wells did hit a line drive to center, but replays clearly showed Davis snagging the sinking ball just before it hit the grass. Then he dropped it during the transfer from glove to hand.

Stewart, who was on second and was unsure if Davis caught the ball or not, initially started for third but then doubled back toward second. Ichiro Suzuki, who was on first but ran all the way to second, saw Stewart retreating and took a few steps toward first. Kawasaki took Davis' throw and tagged out Stewart. He attempted to tag Ichiro as well, but Ichiro executed a near split to avoid the tag and get to second.

Meanwhile, Nuñez reached the plate before either tag, and thus would have scored even if it had been ruled a catch by Davis. The ultimate difference was that Wells was charged with an at-bat on the 8-4 force play instead of getting a sacrifice fly. He still got his RBI.

"I'm looking at third-base coach Rob Thomson and he couldn't see the umpire if he called it safe or out," Stewart said. "No one really knew what to do out there on the bases."

Wells stood at first base, watching. "I was just looking for an answer and didn't really find one," he said. "You guys were kind of in the same state I was: a state of confusion."

Gibbons immediately came out to argue and was ejected by Barry. Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle was ejected by crew chief Ted Barrett, who said Buehrle was yelling from the dugout and was warned before being tossed.

"We looked at the replay and it looked to us like it bounced, but probably inside his glove," Barrett said. "So on replay, probably would have been ruled a catch."

Next year it might be.

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