CLEVELAND — Replay is supposed to solve problems, not cause them.
But Wednesday night in Cleveland, the umpiring crew led by Angel Hernandez turned what should have been a tie game into a mess. Because Hernandez and his crew somehow ruled a would-be game-tying home run by Oakland’s Adam Rosales in the top of the ninth was a double.
End result of the A’s getting jobbed: An Indians win, their third in a row over Oakland and ninth in 10 games overall.
Rosales’ hit came with Cleveland trying to close out a 4-3 game, two outs and nobody on, and it was hit to the top of the 19-foot wall in left. The ball bounced back on the field quickly, and umpires ruled Rosales had a double.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin asked for a replay review, and three umpires spent a considerable amount of time trying to see where the ball hit. Replays in the press box seemed to show clearly that the ball hit the railing over the wall, which would be a home run. Fans in the bleachers were signaling home run to each other. Somehow, the umpires did not see it that way. The Indians got a call, and Perez was able to wiggle out of a bases-loaded situation to save the win.
Hernandez said umpires decided the replays were inconclusive. Major League Baseball touts the fact that all reviews are done with a phone connection to Advanced Media Headquarters in New York.
“It wasn’t evident on the TV we had it was a home run,” Hernandez said. “I don’t know what kind of replay you had, but you can’t reverse a call unless there is 100 percent evidence and there wasn’t 100 percent evidence.”
The A’s did not agree.
“Our whole team thought it was the wrong call,” Rosales said.
“I don’t get it,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I don’t know what the explanation would be when everybody else in the ballpark knew it was a home run. I went in and looked at it later, clearly it hit the railing behind. I’m at a loss, a complete loss.”
Whether it hit the second or third railing is immaterial; it hit almost waist-high above the wall.
Melvin later added that the umpires were the only four people in the ballpark who saw the hit as a double. He was probably right, and he was ejected for arguing the review. Once a manager requests a review, he can’t protest a game or argue the call.
“A homer is a homer,” Melvin said. “Even if it’s only an inch. And clearly it was further than that.”
He reasoned that if the ball hit the padded yellow line, it would have dropped back into play. He, and everyone but the umpires, saw the ball ricochet back on the field.
The Indians understood. Because they saw the same replay.
“(Live) I saw it hit the yellow line and come down so I thought it was in play still,” Perez said. “Obviously coming in here (after the game) I saw different.”
Though few Cleveland players would say much about the call, a couple raced to the TV in the clubhouse to hear Melvin’s postgame.
When asked about the call, they spoke with tongue firmly in cheek.
“It’s not for me to agree or disagree with a call,” said starting pitcher Justin Masterson, who got his fifth win. “When an umpire makes a call that’s what the call is.”
“I didn’t see it,” said Nick Swisher, whose home run tied the game at three in the sixth.
Swisher said he also did not see a replay.
“I’m so smart guys,” Swisher said. “I’ll let you know that ahead of time.”
Perez was a little more direct. Not surprisingly.
“I just feel bad for the umpire, and the other side,” he said. “Melvin came out livid afterwards, obviously. But they reviewed it. You can’t argue after a review. They went and looked and made their decision. Tough pill to swallow, but like said I said we’ll take it every day over here.”
The brouhaha over the home-run-ruled-a-double did overshadow another solid Indians effort that saw them score twice in the fifth when they didn’t get a ball out of the infield, and score twice in the sixth on home runs by Swisher and Carlos Santana.
Masterson had one bad inning when he gave up three runs, but he, Joe Smith and Perez shut the A’s out the other eight innings.
At least that’s what the umpires said.
“Probably the only four people in the ballpark,” Melvin said.
The human element lives.
The Indians will take it and move on to the next one.
“What else do you do?” said manager Terry Francona. “I’m sure as hell not going back out there.”