Trapped ball allows Rangers to escape jam
Umpires rule Martin catches ball; replays show otherwise
ARLINGTON -- It mattered little after David Price pitched a complete game, Evan Longoria had three hits and the Rays beat the Rangers, 5-2, to advance to Wednesday's Wild Card Game in Cleveland.
But Bruce Dreckman's call on Delmon Young's liner in the seventh -- ruled a catch, when replays clearly show that center fielder Leonys Martin trapped it -- could have meant everything.
"I'm sure that Bruce Dreckman is the most relieved guy in this ballpark right now," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
"Thankfully, it didn't come back to bite us, bottom line," Longoria said. "We were able to get the win regardless."
With runners on first and second and two outs, though, the Rays were denied at least one run. With his team leading, 4-2, in the tiebreaker to determine the second American League Wild Card, Young hit a sinking liner to center field off Joakim Soria. Martin sprinted forward after getting a late jump and extended his arm, eventually fielding the ball in the palm of his glove but immediately after it hit the ground.
"I tried to confuse the umpire, and that was my job," Martin said. "The ball hit the grass first, and I just had to confuse the umpire."
To the surprise of many, it worked. Dreckman, working the left-field line since Major League Baseball employs two extra umpires for playoffs and tiebreakers, signaled for an out.
"Obviously, I could tell that it changed direction, but I thought it was in his glove when it did that," Dreckman said. "That's why I made the out call, because it was such a quick, short hop. It was one of those things where, from my angle, and everything happening full speed, that's what I had."
Chris Guccione, working the right-field line, thought he saw the same thing. And when Maddon briefly left the dugout to dispute the call, he had only one message: "This is a great example of why instant replay would be so good."
Next year he may get his wish, with the use of replay for fair-foul and trap plays incorporated into the most recent Basic Agreement and possibly added in 2014.
A plan to dramatically increase the number of plays that can be reviewed was introduced on the final day of the quarterly Owners Meetings, on Aug. 15, and yet another meeting on replay was held in New York earlier on Monday.
Joe Torre, executive vice president of baseball operations, who attended Monday's game, said they "haven't said which plays are going to be reviewable, but all this stuff is good information for us."
"That's why we're talking about replay right now," he said. "We're still not totally locked up on the plays that are going to be replayed, but stuff like that? That's why, trust me, there's been a great deal of conversation about replay.
"The thing you need to know is the fact that the umpires are all in on it, too. I mean, that's the important part, because we all want to get it right."
This isn't the first time this season a controversial call was part of a Rays-Rangers game.
On April 8, with a runner on first, two outs and the Rays trailing by one in the top of the ninth at Rangers Ballpark, Marty Foster rung up Ben Zobrist on a full-count breaking ball that was well outside home plate, giving Joe Nathan his 300th career save. Maddon followed Foster and crew chief Tim Welke -- also the crew chief on Monday -- off the field, arguing his case, to no avail.
But whereas that call affected the outcome of the game, Monday's didn't.
Asked what he thought of the call, Young said, "Who cares, we won."
And then he disappeared, into the champagne celebration.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.