It’s not unusual to complain about a blown call, something that perhaps sways a game in one direction or the other. Players and fans alike will incessantly criticize officials in any sport, in any event where a close call goes against the team you’re rooting for. It’s human nature. I for one don’t tend to subscribe to the notion that one single call can sway the entire outcome of a game because there are usually multiple factors that lead to any given outcome. That’s what makes the egregious mistake by Angel Hernandez tonight so galling.
After the A’s had blown a 3-0 lead, and trailed 4-3 (more on how all that happened later) going into the 9th inning. After Indians closer Chris Perez, another public enemy of the Athletics fans, made Josh Donaldson look silly striking out, and induced a weak grounder from Daric Barton, Adam Rosales strode to the plate as the last glimmer of hope for the Athletics to attempt to salvage a split in Cleveland. Rosales drove a 1-1 fastball from Perez towards the high wall in left-center field, as the ball careened off what initially would have appeared to be the top of the wall he cruised into second base. Athletics Manager Bob Melvin immediately hit the field to request that the umpires take a look to make sure the ball didn’t go out. Every replay shown on the CSN California broadcast showed that the ball cleared the yellow line and hit the railing above it, the evidence appeared conclusive that Rosales had actually tied the game with a home run. Umpire Angel Hernandez disagreed upon review of the play, leaving Rosales at second base. Bob Melvin vehemently argued the call, and was ejected for his efforts.
The A’s would get two more base runners via a hit by pitch on Eric Sogard, and a walk by John Jaso that loaded the bases. Seth Smith would hit a weak comebacker to Perez to end the game and hand the A’s a loss. The umpires had once again put their fingerprints on the game, and pushed the game in favor of the Indians. The offending umpire, Angel Hernandez has a strong reputation for inconsistency and quite frankly for blowing calls all over the place. This instance is just another notch in his belt.
While the vitriol will rain down on Hernandez, and well it should, this incident speaks to a much larger problem in Major League Baseball. Since the implementation of instant replay for moments like this, there have been relatively few problems as severe as this one. Apparently the umpires are only given the video to review from the cameras of the home team. So who’s to say the cameramen aren’t instructed to zoom out in an instance like this to make it more difficult for the umpire to get the call correct if it might go against the home team. The umpires should be given every conceivable angle in order to get the call correct, conclusively. It’s the responsibility of MLB and Bud Selig to make this happen, the very integrity of the game depends on it.
As for the first 8 innings, it was another case of some sloppy play and missed opportunities. Of course had those not happened I might have not written 500 words about the umpire in the first place. A.J. Griffin was good for the most part tonight, but an Adam Rosales throwing error on a possible inning ending double play ball in the 5th inning opened the door for the Indians. Two runs scored on that play. Griffin would allow solo home runs to the ever gregarious Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana to give Cleveland the 4-3 lead they would win with. A.J.’s line wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t as bad as it looks either. He pitched 6.2 innings, allowed 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts in taking the loss. Sean Doolittle retired the last batter of the 7th inning, and Ryan Cook pitched a clean 8th.
The A’s offense did better than Tuesday night at least. The much talked about promotion of Daric Barton actually paid dividends, as the patient first baseman contributed a 2 run single and a walk (obviously in his first game back with the Athletics. Brandon Moss accounted for the other run for the Athletics with an RBI single of his own prior to Barton’s. Seth Smith had two hits tonight as well, and Jed Lowrie went 1 for 3 with a walk.
After a tough game to stomach, the A’s once again are faced with the challenge of salvaging a single win in a 4 game series tomorrow as Bartolo Colon (3-1, 3.62 ERA) takes on former Rays and Angels pitcher Scott Kazmir (1-1, 6.28 ERA). Once upon a time the Athletics hung an astounding 14 ER on Kazmir, and while that game has absolutely zero impact on tomorrow’s outcome, perhaps that fact will linger in the back of his mind as he takes the mound bright and early tomorrow (9:05 AM PST). Time to take out some frustration on the left hander.