CINCINNATI -- Seven innings after instant replay evidence was insufficient enough to award Randal Grichuk a game-tying home run, the rookie center fielder connected for a game-winning homer. Grichuk's 13th home run of the season came in Wednesday's 13th inning and delivered the Cardinals a 4-3 win over the Reds.
"You know the ball flies here, but you want to have a quality at-bat still," said Grichuk, who turned on a Dylan Axelrod changeup to tally his 40th extra-base hit, which accounts for 54 percent of his season hit total. "Obviously, any guy who has pop has that in the back of his head. You just try not to let it affect your swing."
Grichuk felt certain he had sent a ball over the fence earlier in the night -- and replay seemed to indicate that he did, even if the hit was ruled a double. With two on, none out and the Cardinals trailing by three in the sixth, Grichuk drove a David Holmberg pitch to deep left-center field. The ball hit near the top of the wall, caromed high and then landed back in the field of play, where center fielder Billy Hamilton kept the Cards from scoring a second or third run.
The trajectory of the bounce suggested the ball hit more than just yellow padding, and manager Mike Matheny convinced the umpiring crew to review the call. The subsequent replay delay lasted just over four minutes, during which a replay umpire could not find conclusive evidence to change the call to a three-run homer.
"I saw it on replay. It went over the yellow pad, so I think it's a homer," Grichuk said. "I don't know. They kind of explained it as that's part of the fence, so it technically hit the fence even though it went over the yellow [line]. Clearly, I don't think it's going to hit the yellow pad and bounce that high up. But they watched it for a while and said it's a double."
Matheny said he understood why the ruling on the field stayed as it was.
"There is a little bit of a green fence supporting the pad on the back side," Matheny explained. "The question is whether it hit that, which it looked like it did. Still, by rules, it needs to get over it. But we wanted to at least take a look because it did look a little funny. It looked like it cleared the pad. Just making sure they're going through all the rules and determining it. That's too big a play."
Grichuk actually drove that ball further than he would his home run, which traveled an estimated 370 feet. With hits to drive in the team's first run and then its last, Grichuk extended his hitting streak to eight games and notched his team-high seventh game with multiple extra-base hits.
"He's got some potential," Matheny said. "You might see some swing and misses every once and a while, but you're also going to see what you did tonight. I think he's going to keep honing his approach at the plate, which is going to take some of those swing and misses out of play. But we're not going to have him shorten up. He has the ability to jump the ball out of the park and change the game."