Carlos Beltran was the center of the story in last night's 13-inning NLCS Game 1 between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He drove in all three of St. Louis' runs. He provided the postseason heroics that fans have come to expect from him. In the 10th inning, Beltran made the defensive play of the night, calling off Jon Jay on a fly ball and throwing out Dodgers' second baseman Mark Ellis at the plate.
The play was set up by strange managerial decisions on both sides of the field. For Don Mattingly, his decision to send Dee Gordon to pinch run for Adrian Gonzalez in the 8th inning led to Michael Young being the hitter at the plate with runners on first and third and one out in the 10th. Mike Matheny would counter that move with the decision to leave his closer, Trevor Rosenthal, in the game for a second inning to try and keep the game tied.
The result was one of the most exciting moments of this year's postseason thus far. Young lifted a fly ball to right field, Ellis tagged from third to try to score and Beltran executed a flawless throw to the plate.
Many across the internet immediately began to question the call at the plate, wondering if catcher Yadier Molina actually tagged Ellis or just blocked the base path causing the collision. It led Alyson Footer of MLB.com to ask Ellis about it directly after the game:
"It was pretty obvious I got tagged out," said Ellis, who hit a one-out triple before the play. "There was a collision at home plate. They're going to call you out every time. You run into it, you're out. That's how they're going to call it."
Obviously, a tag must be made to record the out. Equally obvious is that a runner is not going to get a call in his favor when the ball beats him by a significant amount of time and he collides with the defender. Expecting an umpire to determine if the tag was truly made during that amount of body contact is absurd.
That being said, I agreed with the many fans that pointed out the missing tag. Watching the play from various angles—and even in real time—it did not appear that Molina tagged Ellis, and the Cardinals caught a bit of a break in a very important situation.
The important view is the one from the first base side, where the viewer can have a clear view of the glove of Molina and the contact with Ellis. The Facebook page for fan site STL Cardinal Baseball pointed out the point of contact very clearly early this morning:
It appears that next season will see the arrival of Instant Replay and the ability to review plays of this nature. The impact on the game will surely be significant. Plays that have become a routine call will now have to be executed in a more deliberate way. The outcome of games may be impacted greatly in the future.
This was not one of those games. The tag was made. Game 1 of the NLCS belongs to the Cardinals.
More specifically, it belongs to Carlos Beltran.
The above referenced Facebook page and the subsequent website that it represents is a fan site and bears no official connection to the St. Louis Cardinals or Major League Baseball.
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