Terry Collins' first challenge of an umpire's call under Major League Baseball's expanded replay system turned out to be successful and set the stage for the Mets' 6-3 victory over the Reds Saturday.
It came on a basic force play that until this season would have been determined solely by an on-field call.
With the Reds leading 3-2 in the ninth inning and J.J. Hoover on the mound, the Mets' Juan Lagares drew a leadoff walk, bringing up Anthony Recker in a sacrifice situation. He raised his bat at a pitch over his head and bunted it toward first base, where Joey Votto fielded it and threw to shortstop Zack Cozart. Lagares slid in and was called out by second-base umpire James Hoye.
"He said out, but I think I got the base," Lagares said. "I was almost sure, but you never know because sometimes you pull your foot out of the base, but yeah, I think I got it."
Collins trotted out to second. The new replay rule gives each team one challenge, two if the first one is successful, so using it in the ninth inning becomes a no-brainer.
"You gotta go out," Collins said. "I went out and [bench coach Bob Geren] was checking with Jim Kelly, who's our video guy, and got the thumbs up. It's just a close play anyway. We've got that opportunity to challenge that, so I had to take a shot at it."
Kelly, who lives in Port Washington, is the team's advance scouting assistant and replay coordinator. He watches the entire game from a video room near the Mets' dugout. Challenges are reviewed by MLB umpires at the league's Replay Operations Center in Manhattan. The review took 2 minutes, 14 seconds, and when it was overturned, a loud cheer erupted at Citi Field. Ruben Tejada walked to load the bases and pinch hitter Ike Davis hit a walk-off grand slam.
All made possible by the reversal. "That helped us a lot right there," Lagares said.
Added Recker, "I thought I took enough off the bunt that he had a good shot of getting there, and he did. As soon as he called him out, or at least I saw that he had called him out, I was probably crossing first around that time. I was thinking to myself, 'Wow, we better challenge that 'cause I think he was safe.' And he did. And it worked out for us . . . You think about that we would have been in a much different situation last year had we not been able to use replay right there . . . It seemed to me he was safe, so it was good to be able to get the right call."