Umps get home run call wrong
What good is giving the umpires access to a video replay to make calls on questionable home runs if they get it wrong anyway? That clearly was the case Wednesday night at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium that cost Bartolo Colon and the Yankees a run in the third inning.
At issue was a drive to left-center by Royals designated hitter Billy Butler that was called a home run. Yankees manager Joe Girardi immediately argued the call and persuaded second base umpire Dana DeMuth to review the play, which Major League Baseball put into effect two years ago.
Left fielder Brett Gardner retrieved the ball and seeing DeMuth signaling home run merely tossed it back to the infield. Butler kept running around the bases, but the Yankees were sure he would be told to go no farther than second base upon review of the play by the umps.
Various replays showed that the ball hit a barrier at the top of the wall and caromed back onto the field. It was as clear as could be that the ball did not go over the barrier, which the grounds rules call for to make it a home run. Yet four sets of eyes reviewing the play upheld the original call. What was funny was to watch Butler in the Kansas City dugout as he first reached for his helmet perhaps thinking he would have to return to the field and then making a sheepish grin to teammates as he put the helmet back into the rack.
How about the reaction of Mariano Rivera? Baseball’s model of cool and collected behavior for years, Rivera was livid in the dugout about the umpires’ decision. At one point, he got into a shouting match with plate umprire Chad Fairchild and had to be restrained by Girardi to avoid being thrown out of a game he might have been called on later to save.
For that to happen, however, the Yankees would have had to regain the lead that Colon lost. Butler’s home run was the second of the third inning off Colon. The other, a three-run shot by Alex Gordon, was more damaging because it wiped out a 2-0 deficit. Curtis Granderson got the Yankees started in the first inning with his 34th home run and also scored the second run in the third when he doubled and came home on a two-out single by Nick Swisher.
Colon seemed a bit out of sorts with too many pitches staying up in the zone and was outpitched by journeyman lefthander Bruce Chen, who is pitching for his 10th major-league club and entered the game with a career record against the Yankees of 1-5 with a 6.71 ERA. Colon was gone after five innings after allowing five earned runs and seven hits in 99 pitches. With a six-man rotation still in place while Freddy Garcia recovers from a finger injury, the Yankees may have to consider Colon as a possible candidate to go to the bullpen.
As for that Butler home run, it turned out to be the difference maker in a 5-4 Royals victory. The Yankees cut the margin to one with a run in the ninth off shaky closer Joakim Soria. The run was scored by Derek Jeter, who was 4-for-5 and is now batting .290, on a sacrifice fly by Robinson Cano.
The Yanks had the bases loaded with two out and birthday boy Jorge Posada, who turned 40, at the plate. A hit there would have been than a birthday cake for Jorgie, but he was called out on strikes, a tough way to end a birthday.