For the fourth time in five games, and the fifth time in the young season, the Mets were the recipients of a beneficial call from instant replay. With Gary Sheffield on first, Daniel Murphy hit a long fly ball to right field that was initially ruled to have hit off the top of the wall.
Sheffield, who had slowed down on the basepaths, was thrown out at home while Murphy was credited with a double.
Upon closer inspection, however, the umpires, headed by crew chief Larry Vanover, determined the ball had hit off the facade of the second deck in right field for a two-run homer that gave the Mets a 5-3 lead.
"I feel like the system tonight worked the way it was designed to work," Vanover said. "I thought it worked well. As far as the individual play itself, I think the key element in this play is that yellow sign out there. It's light colored and the ball's slicing and coming down hard, and all of a sudden the ball disappears into the sign, which makes it very, very difficult for us.
"It was a very difficult call. We took all the information from the group consultation and from the replay, and that's how we came up with our answer. When you look at the replay, you can see the ball does disappear into the yellow sign and it does change direction. That's how we made the call."
"From the reaction of the right fielder, I thought it was a home run," manager Jerry Manuel said. "I wasn't really sure when it came back into play whether it was, so that's why I asked them to take a look at it."
"It was a homer," Murphy said. "That's what the umps said."
After the game, the Nationals were still convinced the wrong call was made.
Manager Manny Acta felt the replay was inconclusive and the hit should have been ruled a double. "Something has to be done because this was supposed to help make the right call and help the umpires. It's supposed to be clear cut home run," Acta said, "If it's so inconclusive like [a couple of days ago], the change shouldn't be made.
"Like today, they need to get better feeds or more feeds or something. I'm not a geometry expert, but [the Subway sign] hangs over the warning track. There is no explanation for the ball hitting the upper deck, coming down and bouncing forward and then hitting the Modell's sign."
Reviewing the reviews
|Of the 12 instances of instant replay so far in the 2009 season, five have involved the Mets.|
|Apr. 19||CLE-NYY||J. Posada||HR||HR||Watch|
|Apr. 22||OAK-NYY||K. Suzuki||HR||HR||Watch|
|Apr. 24||SF-ARI||E. Byrnes||2B||2B||Watch|
|Apr. 25||SEA-LAA||G. Matthews||2B||2B||Watch|
|Apr. 29||FLA-NYM||F. Tatis||HR||HR||Watch|
|May 13||STL-PIT||Ad. LaRoche||HR||2B||Watch|
|May 13||FLA-MIL||R. Gload||HR||Foul||Watch|
|May 23||TEX-HOU||M. Tejada||HR||HR||Watch|
|May 23||NYM-BOS||O. Santos||2B||HR||Watch|
|May 24||NYM-BOS||K. Youkilis||Foul||Foul||Watch|
|May 25||WAS-NYM||G. Sheffield||HR||HR||Watch|
|May 27||WAS-NYM||D. Murphy||2B||HR||Watch|
It was just the start of a wild bottom of the sixth. The first batter after the review, Ramon Castro, hit a deep fly ball to left field. Washington's Josh Willingham gave chase and appeared to reach toward the stands in foul ground, only to have the ball sneak over his head and bounce directly on the foul line for a double.
One hitter later, Fernando Martinez's popup was botched by catcher Wil Nieves. Pitcher Ron Villone was able to recover and record the out at first because the rookie, in just his second big league start, had neglected to run the play out.
The inning ended when pinch-hitter Fernando Tatis lined out to Cristian Guzman, who easily doubled Castro off second base.
Murphy's home run, however, was the Mets' second tie-breaking home run in the sixth inning this series -- and both have been reviewed. On Monday night, Sheffield hit a three-run homer to left field that was confirmed by replay.
"They seem to be going our way," Sheffield said.
Sheffield was on first base on Saturday when Omir Santos hit a ball over the Green Monster at Fenway Park that was originally ruled a double. The call was overturned, however, by replay, giving the Mets a 3-2 ninth-inning lead and eventually the victory.
A potential Kevin Youkilis home run was ruled a foul ball in the Mets' 12-5 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday.
The Mets' first experience with instant replay in 2009 was on a Tatis home run that was upheld against the Marlins on April 29.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Bill Ladson also contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.