The Washington Post

Dodgers-Cardinals play at the plate reignites replay conversation

Next year, this play at the plate might have been reversed. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

A year from now, the pivotal defensive play of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series – the throw made by St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran to nail Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis in the 10th inning – would likely be reviewed by the umpires under the new, expanded instant replay “challenge” system that will be implemented in 2014.

And the call very well could be reversed, as replays Friday night suggested Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina never actually tagged Ellis with his glove in the collision at the plate. But players on both teams were stunned by questions from media members after the game about the play, and the consensus – supported by even Dodgers players – was that no such play should ever be reversed, when the ball clearly beats the runner to the plate and the catcher holds on to it following a collision.

“In the history of baseball, no one has ever been called safe on that play [just] because [the catcher] didn’t tag them,” said Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis. “That would be a shame for a great defensive play like that – the great throw by Carlos, and great play by Yadier at the plate to be overturned because of a technicality that he didn’t graze [the runner] with his glove. I hope that’s something that doesn’t change, because that’s an important part of the game.

“There’s no umpire alive that I think would call Mark safe there because he didn’t get tagged.”

The Dodgers were without two key members of their lineup for Saturday’s Game 2 when center fielder Andre Ethier was sidelined by lingering soreness in his ankle and shortstop Hanley Ramirez was a late scratch with bruised ribs.

Ethier started Game 1 in center field – his first action in the outfield in nearly a month – and figured in one of the pivotal plays of the game, when he failed to make a running, lunging catch near the wall on Beltran’s deep drive in the third inning. The ball hit off the wall for a two-run double, the Cardinals’ only runs until the 13th inning.

He was replaced in the Dodgers’ Game 2 lineup by veteran Skip Schumaker.

Ramirez was drilled in the ribs by a fastball by Cardinals rookie pitcher Joe Kelly in the first inning Friday, and while he remained in the entire game, he was clearly dealing with some discomfort. Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly had Ramirez in his original Game 2 lineup, but scratched him about a half-hour before first pitch, with veteran Nick Punto his replacement at shortstop.

More MLB playoff coverage

Beltran’s heroics lift Cardinals in Game 1 | Mattingly’s gaffe costs Dodgers

Boswell: ALCS is a matchup of contrasts | Worlds collide in NLCS

Dave Sheinin has been covering baseball and writing features and enterprise stories for The Washington Post since 1999.
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