Miscommunication costs Cards on final play

Miscommunication costs Cards on final play

MIAMI -- Neither player called it, and, ultimately, neither player caught it, allowing a ball that pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich lined to left-center in the ninth inning of Sunday's game to roll toward the wall as the Marlins scored the game-winning run in a 5-4 walk-off victory over the Cardinals.

The ugly ending capped a series split that left the Cardinals precisely where they were in the National League Wild Card standings -- one game back of the Marlins -- upon their arrival in Miami. It also left the club to wonder what could have been had Dietrich's triple been gloved for the inning's final out and the game continued on.

"Off the bat, it looked like a ball that one of them, or both, could get to," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It looked like it was going to be caught when it was hit."

Adeiny Hechavarria set up Dietrich's heroics with a two-out single to cap a 10-pitch at-bat against reliever Matt Bowman. Dietrich then drove an 0-1 fastball to left center, after which left fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker and center fielder Tommy Pham gave chase.

Pham said that neither he nor Hazelbaker called it, but that once he saw Hazelbaker peel off as they neared each other, he knew he'd have to make a play. The awkwardness of what happened next -- Pham slid instead of dove -- was because of where Hazelbaker went.

"I couldn't dive because if I were to dive, I would have dived right into him," Pham said. "I think if I would have dived, I would have killed myself because I would have gone into him."

Had Hazelbaker pivoted behind Pham, he would have also been better positioned to cut off the ball before it trickled past them both for a triple.

"There's not a whole lot to say about it," Hazelbaker said. "It's just a ball that has to be caught. It was a fly ball that needs to be caught. Everybody saw it. We've talked about. We've discussed the play. It's something that's got to get better."

Interestingly, neither Pham nor Hazelbaker, started the game in those particular positions. Hazelbaker was in the lineup as the starting center fielder, but he moved to left after Aledmys Diaz's exit prompted all sorts of defensive shifting. It was at that time, too, that Pham entered the game.

"I think it should have been caught by one of the two of us," Pham said. "When I look at it on the video, I ran a long way for it, but I still feel like I could have caught it."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.