Depending on the angle, the slow-motion replays and the still photos showing a crucial play at the plate, opinions vary on Yadier Molina's tag -- or non-tag -- of Mark Ellis in the 10th inning of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, which the Cardinals went on to win in 13 innings, 3-2. Home-plate umpire Gerry Davis said Ellis was out. The replays showed he was probably out -- if Molina actually put the tag on Ellis. Depending on the angle, that last part could have gone either way.
Did he or didn't he? It seems that everyone has an opinion on the matter, including Ellis.
"I was out," Ellis said.
"Yeah. It was pretty obvious," Ellis said. "I think everybody saw that."
It wasn't so much that Ellis recalled feeling Molina's tag as he barreled into him after bolting from third on Michael Young's not-deep-enough fly ball to right-center that was caught by right fielder Carlos Beltran. It was that Ellis ran into Molina, and Molina didn't drop the ball.
That almost always results in an out call, regardless of whether there was actually a real tag applied. Ellis knows this and didn't seem to have an issue with the call, even when it was brought to his attention that Molina may have missed him.
"It was pretty obvious I got tagged out," said Ellis, who hit a one-out triple before the play. "There was a collision at home plate. They're going to call you out every time. You run into it, you're out. That's how they're going to call it."
Molina felt he did apply the tag, although he said he had not watched a replay and wasn't positive how the sequence actually played out. Still, Molina needed a perfect throw from Beltran to have a chance to finish the job on his end, and that's exactly what he got from his veteran teammate in right field.
Young lifted a fly ball that wasn't quite deep enough to guarantee enough time to score the run, but it was just deep enough that Ellis knew he had to take the chance. As the ball traveled to the outfield, Beltran, who possesses one of the best arms in the league, bolted in while calling for the ball, and center fielder Jon Jay wisely backed off and deferred to his stronger-armed teammate.
"As well as Michael Young hit the baseball, I felt that I was going to have a better angle than Jon Jay," Beltran said. "So I called the ball about five or six times, and Jon Jay was able to hear me and leave it up to me."
The throw home couldn't have been more on point.
"Once I caught it, I was hoping to make a good throw to home," Beltran said. "Thank God I did that. And I saw Yadier kind of like in the crouch waiting for the ball, and I thought we were going to have a chance. And thank God we did."
"I was thinking that Carlos would make a good throw, but at the same time hoping that, when you get that bounce, it won't bounce over my head," Molina said. "I was worried about that, but I mean, it was a great bounce for me. I caught it, and I made the tag."
Ellis said he had no regrets about tagging and racing home.
"No. You go," he said. "That's what you do. [Beltran] made a great throw, Yadi made a good pick and they got us out. You have to go there. You have to take the chance there. You have to make a great throw, and Yadi made a great pick. It was the right thing."
And the right call by the umpire.