PHILADELPHIA -- When Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg looked into the dugout in the fifth inning of the Phillies' 1-0 victory over the Braves on Thursday, he expected to see Larry Bowa give him a thumbs up or thumbs down, letting him know whether to challenge the on-field call that Braves runner Andrelton Simmons was safe on a steal of second base.
Instead, after getting off the phone with video tech Kevin Camiscioli, the bench coach merely shrugged.
"That's not what I was looking for. That's a new sign he just threw in," Sandberg said with a laugh.
But the game was a 0-0 tie. If the call stood, Simmons was in scoring position. Sandberg decided to take a shot. He challenged. And after a minute and 47 seconds, the replay official in New York overturned the call. Simmons was out in what was potentially a big play in the Phils' one-run win.
"As it turned out, [Simmons'] hand came off later on after the play. I didn't really see that until I got back to the bench," Sandberg said. "It was one of those things -- to use one before it gets too late. The way A.J. Burnett was pitching, a bloop right there or something, that could be a run. So it was worth the risk."
Here's how the play developed: After Simmons singled against Burnett to lead off the top of the fifth, Gerald Laird struck out. Simmons was running on the pitch and beat the throw from catcher Wil Nieves.
But he also slid past the base. When Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins noticed, he reached back to tag Simmons as he was scrambling back to second. Second-base umpire Bill Welke ruled that he made it back in time.
Sandberg came out to discuss the call and wait for Bowa to give him a signal. But all Bowa did was spread his hands. Sandberg decided to challenge anyway, and, when the play was overturned, he retained his challenge. As it turned out, he didn't need it.
His immediate thought when he saw Bowa's indecision: "I looked back at him, and he wouldn't even look at me," Sandberg said, laughing again. "He wasn't much help this time."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.