Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard's reaction to the impromptu audible was just as deft, using his bare hand to snatch the ball an instant before the Rays' Carl Crawford planted a foot on the bag. All around, it was a wonderful exhibition, especially on the part of the 45-year-old left-hander Moyer, as the Phillies got it done.
"He keeps himself in shape. The way he got over there was ninja-esque," Howard said of Moyer.
But for Philadelphia in this Game 3 of the World Series, there was only one problem: First-base umpire Tom Hallion didn't see it that way, ruling Crawford safe and drawing a livid first-base coach Davey Lopes and manager Charlie Manuel into argument.
Provided the benefit of a video replay after the Phillies' 5-4 win, Hallion admitted that he'd missed one. Given his position and the nature of the play, Hallion relied on listening for which sound would come first -- a cleat against the base or a thwack of ball against glove, the latter of which never came because Howard used his bare hand.
"I tried to get the best angle on it, and it wound up being a great play by Jamie and Howard," Hallion said. "I really didn't get a sound to be able to judge. It winds up being a great play. And looking at a replay here, they just got him. So kudos for them, because they made a great play."
Howard said he wasn't exactly going for style points, even though it sure worked out that way.
"The way that it was, because the ball was tailing off over in front, I just figured I'd try and get out and get it," Howard said. "I just reacted. It was just one of those things."
The person who appreciated the play's athleticism the least, unfortunately, would be Moyer. He didn't get a chance to enjoy much of the moment, as Crawford's hit opened a two-run Tampa Bay seventh inning that he would last only three batters into.
"My view was the grass," Moyer said. "I knew it was going to be tough for me to get over there and get the ball and flip it, but I got there and the only way I felt like I could get to that ball was with my glove. I knew I caught it and I flipped it, and I saw Ryan go to catch it. From there, I didn't see anything.
"I didn't know if he caught it, and then when I finally fell down and looked up, I saw that he did catch it. Was he out or safe? I didn't know at that point in time. I asked Ryan and he said, 'I thought he was out.'"
The missed call translated into Tampa Bay's second run of the game. Dioner Navarro followed with a double down the left-field line to give the Rays runners at second and third with none out. Gabe Gross brought Crawford home with a sharp groundout to Howard at first, cutting the Phillies' lead to 4-2, and Jason Bartlett drove home the Rays' third run with a groundout against reliever Chad Durbin.
Crawford said he did not know at the time that the Rays had gotten away with one.
"I was just running hard to try and make something happen," Crawford said. "We were down 4-1 at the time and I was just trying to make something happen. I thought I did [beat the play], but from the replay, they said I didn't beat it. We got a break right there."
Because the play did not ultimately affect the final outcome of the game, the Phillies kept a relatively lighthearted attitude about it. Hallion's self-analysis was more critical.
"As an umpire you never want to be involved in the outcome of the game, any umpire that you have," Hallion said. "I would just say that we don't like being involved in something like that. We like to get every play right. We're human beings and sometimes we get them wrong."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.