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Braves’ Smyly: Upheld call at plate ’embarrassing’

Apr 12, 2021

  • Jesse RogersESPN Staff Writer

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      Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers MLB for ESPN.com.

A controversial lost replay challenge by the Atlanta Braves in the ninth inning on Sunday night was the difference in the game, as the visiting Philadelphia Phillies came from behind in a wild 7-6 victory.

Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm slid home with the eventual winning run as Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud attempted to apply the tag, moving from the third-base side of the plate to the first-base side, where Bohm was coming in.

Plate umpire Lance Barrett called Bohm safe, though replays showed he might never have touched home plate. After a long delay for the video challenge, the ruling on the field was upheld.

“In real time, it’s bang-bang,” Braves starter Drew Smyly said after the game. “We have five different angles on a national televised game, and it’s clear that his foot didn’t touch the plate. That it was on the chalk. For MLB not to overturn that, it’s embarrassing. Why even have replay if you won’t overturn that?”

The official ruling from MLB stated the replay official “could not definitively determine that the runner failed to touch home plate prior to the fielder applying the tag.”

“Initially, I didn’t know if he was safe or out, but after watching the replay, it looked like his foot didn’t touch the bag, from any angle we saw,” d’Arnaud said. “I thought he was clearly out at the plate.”

Players around the league agreed, with Justin Turner and Mike Trout sharing their thoughts on the call on Twitter.

Absolutely brutal, saw two angles that were clear he never touched the plate and we get a call stands? I’m with everyone else, what’s the point of replay? https://t.co/4F1bZAzNCX

— Justin Turner (@redturn2) April 12, 2021

So bad…😂

— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) April 12, 2021

The inning began with the teams tied 6-6. After Bohm led off with a double, Jean Segura hit a ground ball to second, allowing Bohm to reach third base. Lefty Didi Gregorius then hit a shallow fly ball to left field off of Braves reliever Will Smith. Braves left fielder Marcell Ozuna camped under it, then threw a two-hopper to the plate, slightly to the third-base side. D’Arnaud caught the ball and then slid toward first to tag Bohm as his left foot got to the plate.

Bohm was asked if he thought he was safe after the game.

“I was called safe,” he said. “That’s all that matters.”

Phillies manager Joe Girardi added: “We felt like we had a chance [to score on the fly ball]. It was a narrow one, and it was by the skin of the big toe that we scored. It looked like his big toe kind of hit the corner of the plate when we saw all the angles.”

The Braves adamantly disagreed.

“It makes me not even want [replay] anymore,” d’Arnaud said. “It just slows the game down. To me, they got it wrong. I’d just rather not have it and get the game going.”

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The Braves’ Brian Snitker, Drew Smyly and Travis d’Arnaud express their frustrations with a controversial call at home plate against the Phillies, with Smyly calling it embarrassing.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said he didn’t get a good explanation from the umpires after the call, while d’Arnaud said the replay official in New York should be the one being interviewed. After the Braves lost the challenge, the downsized crowd at Truist Park responded by throwing garbage onto the field, prompting a scolding from Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson.

“I love our city,” Swanson said. “I love our fans. They’re passionate. They care. But what happened after they announced that call is the most embarrassing part of the whole night.

“The throwing of things on the field, it’s disrespectful to the people who put in so much work to have the field ready for us every day. … It’s an embarrassing representation of our city. The worst part of it is I don’t think people realize we have families here. There are kids that are sitting in the front row and you have bottles whizzing by their heads. Endangering kids that may not be able to protect themselves is downright embarrassing and shouldn’t happen again.”

The controversy overshadowed another good game by Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. He had three hits, including an infield single on a routine ground ball to short in the first inning. Later, he homered to tie the game at 6-6.

In all, Acuña had nine hits in the three-game series, the most for him over a three-game span in his young career. But the replay challenge took center stage in an early-season battle between division foes.

“They said there wasn’t enough evidence, but there were five different angles,” an incredulous Smyly declared. “It’s clear. He didn’t touch the plate.”