SAN FRANCISCO — Five years ago, Brandon Crawford finished the season one hit shy of a .250 batting average. He could pinpoint exactly which lost hit it was.
Crawford lined a double one night in July, but first base umpire Jordan Baker incorrectly ruled that he missed first base. Crawford was called out, and when he grounded out later in the game, he emphatically stepped on first base. Baker ejected him right away.
The call that went against Crawford on Thursday night angered him a bit more, and baffled both teams. The Giants lost 5-2, but in the aftermath, the clubhouse was full of players trying to figure out how a ninth inning home run was turned into a double by an unidentified replay official sitting across the country in New York.
With the Giants trailing by four and Buster Posey on second base, Crawford lined a shot right down the right field line. A young man reached out and gloved it an inch before it was about to land on the green tin facing or hit the foul pole. Crawford circled the bases and entered the dugout. Mike Matheny challenged the play, and after a four-minute review, the umpires told Crawford to go back to second for an RBI double.
The Giants were stunned. They argued from the dugout, but there’s no changing a call from New York.
"I was told that the fan reached over the fence and that it wouldn't have been a home run. I would love to see that camera angle, because every single person at the park knew that was a homer," Crawford said. "There's no way there's conclusive evidence that it wouldn't have been a homer. For somebody to reach onto the field of play in right field, they would have had to lie down flat and have somebody hold their feet.”
Ironically, Baker was the home plate umpire Thursday for the four-man crew that got the call right on the field. The Giants checked to make sure the umpires in New York knew the ground rules of AT&T Park. A batted ball that lands on the green tin in front of the arcade is a home run. Crawford was told that the rules were explained to the replay umpire. That didn’t clear up any confusion, though.
“It’s crazy that somebody 3,000 miles away could make that call,” he said. “It's about making the right call, and the right call wasn't made."
The call cost Crawford his 13th homer and 66th RBI. The Giants also felt it cost them some momentum, but it’s hard to argue too much on that front. None of the hitters behind Crawford drove him in, and this is, after all, an offense that has scored 12 runs (13 with the homer) in the past seven games. The final outcome almost certainly wasn’t affected, but the Giants were still upset that a player could lose a home run on such an obviously blown call.
“They were wrong,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “A fan can’t reach there. It was a terrible overturn there. It shocked all of us. That’s a home run taken away from Craw. Would it make a difference? You don’t know. But they took a homer away from Craw. He’ll always have that in his back pocket.
“It really wasn’t even close, so that’s why we were all stunned they overturned it.”
At the very least, the call gave the Giants something to rally around in what would have been an otherwise silent clubhouse. Matt Cain, who started in place of Madison Bumgarner (flu), said players watched replays over and over again. They were as shocked as the fans.
“Yeah, yeah,” Cain said, smiling. “I’ve had a lot of them that have gone off the tin that were homers.”