“It’s what replay was meant to do.”
Robin Ventura’s assessment might be a little different than the one in the Baltimore Orioles’ clubhouse, but for one night, the White Sox manager praised baseball’s replay system after it provided the critical turning point in a 4-2 win for the South Siders.
With the bases loaded and no one out in the bottom of the seventh in a 2-all game, Omar Narvaez’s popup down the left-field line wasn’t corralled by Manny Machado and dropped.
The ruling? Foul ball.
But the umpiring crew allowed for a longer look — a much longer look — and after that review, Narvaez was awarded a base hit that allowed the go-ahead run to score.
The play loomed especially large, too, when the next three hitters all struck out, bringing an unceremonious end to what looked like it could have been a big inning for the White Sox.
But thanks to an Adam Eaton homer in the eighth and two innings of scoreless relief work by the White Sox bullpen, Narvaez’s RBI lasted as the game-winner.
“That’s a game changer,” Ventura said. “It’s what replay was meant to do. I don’t know if (third base umpire Mike Winters, who made the initial foul call) really had a good look at it just because of Machado running down the line. You can get crossed up to where you don’t see it. A play that’s called gets overturned because you can actually see the video and have evidence that it would’ve been fair. It’s what it was created for.”
Obviously, it’s easy for Ventura to sing replay’s praises when the call goes his way. His opposing number wasn’t as pleased after the review resulted in his team losing.
“In today's game, they're just saying, ‘That's what they told us in New York,’ and that'll do,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It kind of takes the argument out of it. Hopefully I'll get an explanation (Sunday). We were fortunate (Friday) night with a replay. It could've gone either way. Doesn't matter where it hit the ground if it hit his glove. So, I'm hoping they felt like they had a replay that was definitive enough that he touched it in fair territory, because we don't have one. Maybe they've got one. It hit his glove.”
Narvaez, who said he didn’t even see the ball drop while he was running to first, admitted he was ready for whatever call ended up as the final one.
“Yeah, whatever they called it I was fine,” he said. “If they called it a foul ball, I was ready to get another pitch.”
That wasn’t necessary, though, and the White Sox won the game.
"There's always close calls late in the ballgame, where review has either helped us or hurt us,” Eaton said. “I don't see it as any different than maybe a double play ball or whatnot, but just having it be fair or foul, I think the umpire got blocked out a little bit by Machado, so kind of a tough play for the umpire. But video replay prevailed, and we're happy with it."