ST. PETERSBURG -- The Twins were involved in their first use of instant replay on Friday night. And as their luck would have it on this disappointing road trip, they became the first victims of a call being overturned. The play took place during the fourth inning of the Twins' contest against the Rays at Tropicana Field. With two outs and runners on first and second, Rays first baseman Carlos Pena hit a ball deep to right-center field off Twins right-hander Boof Bonser. Minnesota right fielder Denard Span tried to make a play on the ball, racing back to the wall and jumping up in an attempt to make the catch. But he wasn't able to make the snare as Pena's ball appeared to fall into the arms of a fan standing behind the wall before bouncing back into the field of play.
The umpires originally ruled fan interference and awarded Pena second base on the play. As soon as the ruling was made, both clubs' managers went out on the field. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was trying to see if the umpires might rule an out, while Rays skipper Joe Maddon was trying to argue it was a home run. After crew chief Gerry Davis and the other umpires convened on the field, the decision was made to use instant replay. It was only the third time that instant replay has been used since it was implemented on Aug. 28, and the second time it's been used at Tropicana Field. The time of review took four minutes and 10 seconds. And when Davis and the two other umpires emerged from watching the monitor near the visiting team's dugout, the call was reversed to a home run. The three-run homer by Pena, his 31st of the season, gave Tampa Bay a 9-0 lead over the Twins. And the Twins quickly became 0-for-1 in their instant replay rulings. "Boy, that was fun," Gardenhire said. "I really enjoyed the [heck] out of that one. ... The system worked. They got it right, I heard. They got it right, and that's why they put it in." Span said that when the play happened, he was unsure of what might be called by the umpires, because even he was unclear as to what took place. "It happened so quick," Span said. "I don't know if somebody jumped in front of me or a hand got in front of me or what, but all I heard ... the ball obviously hit some skin. I don't know if somebody reached over. Obviously, the umpires looked at the replay and I'm pretty sure they got it right, if they looked at the replay." And even though the call went against Span's team, he said that he supports using the system. "As long as they get the right call, it's fine," Span said. "If a player hits the ball that far, they deserve to get the home run."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.