Umpires consulted instant replay for the first time in postseason history in the fourth inning of Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, overturning the original call of an Alex Rodriguez double and awarding the Yankees slugger a two-run homer.
"It was a big hit," Rodriguez said of his first World Series hit following the Yankees' 8-5 victory over the Phillies. "I think it woke our offense up a little bit. It felt really good, and it was a little weird to have the first home run and the replay and the whole nine yards."
With Mark Teixeira on first base and one out, Rodriguez drilled a Cole Hamels pitch just to the left of the right-field foul pole, where it bounced off the lens of a television camera and back onto the field. Teixeira stopped at third base and Rodriguez at second, before Yankees manager Joe Girardi jogged onto the field to argue.
After a brief mound conference, four umpires walked off the field to consult the replay. Video replays clearly showed that the ball hit a television camera situated over the chain link fence that forms the top of the wall but jutting out onto the field, and moments after disappearing, the umpires reemerged and ruled the hit a home run.
"I wasn't 100 percent sure, but our coaches started yelling they thought it hit the camera," Girardi said. "My eyes aren't great, so it was hard for me to see. When the ball gets that far away from you, you know it's really close, and with replay, you're going to go out there, and that's what we did."
"I went down there, and I saw it looked like it hit the camera," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "But it looked like the camera was out over the fence, and the umpire told me that before the game they had talked about that, and if it hit the camera that it was going to be a home run."
Indeed, umpire crew chief Gerry Davis said that his crew explored every inch of Citizens Bank Park prior to Game 3, spending time reviewing areas unique to the park. The right-field camera was one of the aspects they discussed.
"We tour the field during the series whenever we go to a new ballpark, and discuss specific ground rules and potential trouble areas just like that," Davis said. "Because we cannot control what the cameraman does with the camera, one of the specific ground rules is when the ball hits the camera, [it's a] home run."
MLB officials said the camera struck by Rodriguez's ball will be adjusted moving forward in the Series.
The ruling was hardly new for the Yankees. Rodriguez also hit the first home run to be reviewed under baseball's fledgling system, last September at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
In addition to being the first utilization of replay in the postseason, the play marked the 66th use of replay since Major League Baseball began using the system on Aug. 28, 2008.
"It's only fitting, right?" said Rodriguez, who joked after his Tropicana Field home run that he had a better chance than anybody in the Majors of becoming the source of controversy. "I'm just glad we got a good ruling."
It was also a pivotal ruling for the Yankees, who had mustered nothing off Hamels in the early innings and were in danger of suffering through their third consecutive subpar offensive day. Rodriguez in particular had struggled through the first two games of the World Series, finishing 0-for-8 with six strikeouts.
The home run changed all that. It was the sixth this postseason for Rodriguez, tying a club record set by Bernie Williams in 1996. It was also the 17th postseason home run for the Yankees, setting a new franchise record. The Yankees had previously hit 16 playoff homers in 1996, 2001 and '03.
"It really got us going," Girardi said. "He has been so good for us in the playoffs. Alex has been a great player for a long time. He's a big reason we're at this point, what he did in the first two series. He has been patient, and he has not tried to do too much. He hit a home run to right field, down the right-field line. To me, that tells you you're not overswinging, and he stayed in his game plan. He's been huge for us."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.