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Monday, March 31, 2014
Calls upheld, overturned by replay

ESPN.com news services

A new era was ushered in as instant replay was utilized for the first time across Major League Baseball on Monday.

Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria was the first to utilize expanded replay this season as he challenged a call at first base in the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day.

Replay
Umpires Bob Davidson (61) and John Hirschbeck wait for the ruling as the first call challenged under the expanded instant replay was upheld.

Pitcher Jeff Samardzija was attempting to bunt runners over from first and second but pitcher Francisco Liriano was able to get Nate Schierholtz out at third base. Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez then fired to first for the double play, narrowly beating Samardzija's final stride.

Renteria came out to argue the call with first-base umpire Bob Davidson while looking into his dugout, presumably for a signal. He then asked for a challenge.

Under the new format, teams are allowed to have someone in their clubhouse watch TV replays and then call the bench to say whether it's worth a challenge.

Davidson and crew chief John Hirschbeck reviewed the play. After a two-minute wait while the umpires hooked up a headset on the field, umpire Larry Vanover -- working in the central replay booth in New York -- told them the call was correct.

"It was a combination of Samardzjia's reaction and what we were looking at," Renteria said. "We're still trying to figure out what clear and compelling evidence is. It's a work in progress."

Later in the game, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was successful in getting a call overturned in the 10th inning after umpires determined Cubs runner Emilio Bonifacio was picked off first base after initially signaling him safe.

Davidson and Hirschbeck again looked at replays, and overturned the initial safe call after 2½ minutes.

The Pirates eventually won 1-0 in 10 innings.

But that wasn't the first overturned call of the day. That happened in Milwaukee as Brewers star Ryan Braun was ultimately ruled out instead of safe after a challenge by Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez that took 58 seconds.

Braun originally was called safe at first base by umpire Greg Gibson on a leadoff infield single fielded by third baseman Chris Johnson in the sixth inning. Commissioner Bud Selig was at Miller Park for the first reversal.

The umpires gathered near the third-base line during the review, while Braun waited near first base. The call was reversed to out, and Braun ran back to the dugout.

Gonzalez said after the game, won 2-0 by Milwaukee, that he thought the review lasted much longer than 58 seconds and that he was going to watch a replay of the replay to time the decision. Still, he was pleased overall.

"You know what? They got the play right. That's the bottom line," Gonzalez said. "It's a process that they [were] looking at two to three years of working through the kinks."

Braun thought it worked out, too, even if he was called out.

"I had a pretty good idea that I was out. For all of us, we just hope they get it right, and they did get it right," he said.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke thought the debut of the expanded replay system went well. At one point, he ran out to second to question an umpire on an inning-ending double play. He decided not to use his one challenge (if the manager is right, he gets another) after getting a sign from the dugout that the team's assigned replay reviewer thought the play was inconclusive.

"It's kind of weird going out there. You used to go out there to kind of argue with the umpire. Now you go out there to say, 'Hey, I didn't see it good. What did you have?' " Roenicke said. "Then I'm just waiting to get a signal so it's quite different. It probably works out better this way."

Of the first five reviews Monday, none took longer than 2½ minutes.

New Washington manager Matt Williams used his challenge in the 10th inning of a 9-7 win over the New York Mets. Even though the Nationals held a four-run lead at the time, Williams wanted to be sure after his runner was called out at first base. The ump got it right.

"I tried to get out of the dugout as quick as possible. You don't want to rub it in there, but we have to do it because it's what's best for our club," Williams said.

Crew chief Mike Winters became the first umpire to initiate a review under the expanded replay system, making the call after a collision at home plate during the game between the Indians and Athletics.

Winters requested the review on a close play at home plate that kept Cleveland from breaking a scoreless tie in the sixth inning of its season opener at Oakland on Monday night.

Winters wanted to see whether Athletics catcher John Jaso had illegally blocked the plate under baseball's new rule regarding plate collisions. With Michael Brantley on third and one out, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a comebacker that appeared to ricochet off pitcher Sonny Gray's foot.

Gray quickly retrieved the ball and fired home to Jaso, who tagged a sliding Brantley. Cleveland manager Terry Francona came out to discuss the play, then Winters went to replay and the call was confirmed in 59 seconds.

The Indians later delivered on their chances in the ninth, with Nyjer Morgan hitting a go-ahead sacrifice fly against new Athletics closer Jim Johnson as Cleveland sent Oakland to its major league-record 10th straight opening loss with a 2-0 victory.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, a pair of blown fuses disabled a pair of replay-system monitors in the Minnesota Twins' clubhouse before the season opener against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

That was fixed in time for the first pitch, but things didn't get much better for the Twins, as they lost 5-3.

Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.