Credit Hernan Perez for catching Salvador Perez off base
Hernan Perez is a long way removed from the days when he was an option on the Tigers’ shortstop carousel. He still arguably won the Tigers a game on Saturday. He did it from the bench.
As Brad Ausmus took questions about the decision to appeal the Royals’ go-ahead play on an errant attempt at second base, Ausmus wasn’t taking credit.
“I have to give credit where credit’s due. Hernan Perez was the guy who initially noticed it, sitting on the bench and watching the game,” Ausmus said. “He noticed that Perez never went back after the line drive. So that’s how it all started.”
The play in question began when Omar Infante lined out to second baseman Ian Kinsler with runners at second and third and one out in a 1-1 game. Kinsler, seeing Eric Hosmer scrambling to get back to second, immediately looked for a chance to double him off and end the threat.
Shortstop Eugenio Suarez, making his first start in a week, was late getting to the bag. Suarez dashed over as the throw went behind him and into short left field. Salvador Perez, who was headed back to third, took off for home.
Perez scored easily, but he never touched third base before doing so.
“I was at the end of the dugout, so I could see the third baseman and second base,” Hernan Perez said. “I was looking at the play at second and when I saw that Suarez missed the ball, I saw Perez, he didn’t go back to the base. When that happened, I ran to [first-base coach] Omar Vizquel and told him to appeal at third base.”
While the bench yelled as Scherzer to throw to third base, Vizquel told Ausmus, who appealed to third-base umpire Larry Vanover, who told Ausmus the play couldn’t be challenged. That’s where Ausmus had to do some convincing.
“I just spoke with [third-base umpire and crew chief] Larry Vanover and said, ‘We’re appealing it. Perez never went back and touched the bag.’ And there was some discussion as to whether it’s a challengeable play, because on a fly-ball tag-up in the outfield, it’s not challengeable. But this wasn’t a case where you’re challenging whether a guy left early or not. This is basically a missed base, and missed bases are challengeable. So that was the basis for the challenge.”
Vanover described the case as Ausmus saying there’s no difference. Ausmus, however, said he was arguing that there is a difference.
“It is kind of a gray area that probably, I would imagine, would have to be addressed at this point,” Ausmus said. “It’s not a tag-up play. You’re not questioning whether a guy left early. He never went and retagged the bases, which is essentially missing a base. And that is challengeable.”
The first umpire conference, Vanover said, involved whether it’s reviewable.
“Let’s go over what’s reviewable or not reviewable, so we talked about that. And the crew was like 75 percent that you cannot review that, but we weren’t 1000 percent [sure]. And in that situation I didn’t want to not go to the headset and ask to review it when I could have. I wanted to make darn sure I didn’t mess that up.”
That’s when he went to the headset.
“I said, ‘I need to know whether tagging up on a line drive is reviewable or not reviewable,’ and they came back with the answer that it’s not a reviewable play.”
At that point, the stadium is under the impression that it’s being reviewed. And thus, the play is being replayed on the scoreboard behind Vanover and as his crew. And the groans from most of the Kauffman Stadium crowd is hard to ignore as fans see that Perez did not touch third base after the lineout.
“I didn’t envy the umpires once they showed the replay on the board,” Ausmus said, “because he clearly didn’t go back and touch the base. I don’t envy the umpires’ position there, because if it’s not challengeable, 45,000 people know what the right call is, including all the umpires and both teams.
“It’s not an enviable position to be in, but ultimately, the goal is to get the call right. And they got the call right.”
But if replay officials couldn’t review the play, how did the crew get the call?
“We started talking about what happened, we walked through the play,” Vanover told a pool reporter. “We took a consensus of the information, and out of that crew consultation, we came up with the answer that he didn’t tag up, he didn’t tag the base.”
Asked if the replay on the scoreboard was a factor, Vanover said it was not. By rule, they’re not allowed to take it into consideration.
Ausmus didn’t know that the play wasn’t reviewed until reporters told him afterward. Neither, for that matter, did Max Scherzer, who was also thanking his lucky stars that Hernan Perez noticed it.
“Really, that goes to Hernan,” Scherzer said. “That just shows you anybody on the bench can be watching a play and can make a difference in a game. We had a guy on our bench make an unbelievable difference in a game today. …
“That’s a one-in-a-million play. It’s just unbelievable we had somebody on our bench be astute and be able to see that. I think everybody on our bench tomorrow will be watching every single play.”