In fact, it was close enough for the umpires to rule it out on the field.
The game took place in the lower portion of the fourth inning of a must-win NLDS game 4 for the Brewers when they played the Braves 2: 1 in the best-of-five series. Duvall appeared Eddie Lauer’s first pitch of the at-bat behind home plate on third base. Catcher Omar Narvaez pursued but failed to get to the ball.
But Luis Urias did – or so it seemed. The ball bounced off Narvaez ‘glove and fell into Urias’ as he stretched to make the game in the dirt. Duvall was called.
But the repetition told a different story. The ball clearly hit the dirt and Urias caught the ball instead of catching it for an out. A simple call for correction by repetition, right? Not as much.
Braves manager Brian Snitker challenged the game and the umpires went to the headsets to consult with the replay officials. They spent an unusually short time discussing the review before removing their headsets. Umpire Alfonso Marquez then turned to Snitker to break the bad news.
Duvall was still outside.
Replay officials apparently didn’t miss the ball as it struck clear in the dirt before bouncing into Urias’ glove. They weren’t even allowed to see it, hence the brief consultation. As it turns out, infield popup games cannot be verified.
Why? Here is the explanation of the MLB rulebook:
Catch Plays in the Outfield: A referee’s decision as to whether a field player caught a flyball or a line drive in flight in the outfield before it hits the ground is verifiable, but fly balls or line drives used by a defensive player in the infield is not entitled to review. “
So instead of facing a 0-1 count with no outs and a man first, Duvall recorded the first out of the inning. The Braves eventually invited the bases and scored two runs in the fourth round to tie the game 2-2, so it wasn’t a total loss for Atlanta. But we will never know how things would have turned out if Replay officials were allowed to correct the obviously wrong call.