DENVER -- Rockies first baseman Todd Helton couldn't believe his eyes and ears Wednesday afternoon. Nonetheless, he found the view to be pleasant. Helton came well off the bag to field third baseman Chris Nelson's rushed, wide throw in the sixth inning. TV replays showed Helton was a good three feet away from the bag, yet 27-year veteran umpire and crew chief Tim Welke called the Dodgers' Jerry Hairston Jr. out to end the inning in the Rockies' eventual 8-5 victory at Coors Field. "Neighborhood?" Helton quipped. "It wasn't in the same area code."
At the time, the Rockies were clinging to a 2-1 lead and the Dodgers would have had runners at first and second with two out. But rather than a game-turning play, it was merely a footnote in a game full of wild turns that ended with Jason Giambi's three-run, pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth. The umpiring crew declined to comment when approached by a pool reporter after the game. Rockies pitcher Drew Pomeranz, who benefited from the call while holding the Dodgers to one run over 6 2/3 innings, didn't want to tempt his good fortune. "An out's an out ... just get in the dugout before anything else happened," Pomeranz said. The Dodgers were left scratching their heads. "It really doesn't matter at this point," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "[Welke] knows he missed it. I think Helton told him he was off the bag. We had a chance to get a run, but at the end of the day I don't think he realized he came off the bag. It doesn't matter. It's neither here nor there." Hairston said he felt he was so safe that he thought the out had occurred elsewhere, until Dodgers first base coach Davey Lopes told him of the call. "To be honest, when I saw them come off the field, I thought Helton had backpicked [Andre] Ethier off second base," Hairston said. "I knew I was safe, then I heard the crowd so that's what I thought happened. Then Davey told me I was out and I was like, 'What?' "It happens. This is an imperfect game. The human element is what makes it great, too. In hindsight, it's a hard game, a lot harder than it looks on TV, playing the game and calling the game as an umpire. Tim's been a good umpire a long time. Everybody's human." Nelson made a difficult stop on Hairston's grounder. He had not seen the replay. "It wasn't that bad, was it?" Nelson asked.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.