Rangers left stranded by umpire's call

Sept. 5, 2010 at 4:05 a.m.


By Jeff Wilson

McClatchy Newspapers


MINNEAPOLIS - The Texas Rangers can only wonder what might have happened had they been able to see Nelson Cruz bat with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Sunday and his team down one run.

But it never happened because of what an umpire thought he saw, even though television replays the Rangers looked at show that the umpire saw the wrong thing.

If seeing is believing, the Rangers say they were robbed of the late chance to pull out a victory at Target Field.

The game ended when umpire Alfonso Marquez ruled that third-base coach Dave Anderson interfered with Michael Young by touching him as Young tried to scramble back to the bag as the tying run.

Cruz would have batted with the bases loaded, but instead Young was the third out and Minnesota had survived with a 6-5 win that completed a three-game sweep.

"It was a bad call by a good umpire," Young said. "We would all have loved to see Cruzie have a shot at it with the bases loaded. It's an absolute shame the game had to like that.

"I didn't touch Dave. I don't think I was anywhere even close to Dave. He said I touched Dave. I couldn't disagree more."

The Rangers entered the ninth inning trailing 6-2, and Ian Kinsler was at first base with two outs when Julio Borbon ripped a double that brought Kinsler home.

Twins closer Matt Capps entered, and Cristian Guzman greeted him with an RBI single to make it 6-4. Young delivered a single and David Murphy walked to load the bases.

Vladimir Guerrero followed, and hit a grounder over the mound and past second base to score Guzman. Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson kept the ball in the infield and threw to third base, where Young had rounded the bag aggressively.

Young dived back in before the tag by Matt Tolbert, but Marquez was already signaling that Anderson and Young had touched before Young went back to third.

The game was over. Young, Anderson and manager Ron Washington argued vehemently as the Twins met in the middle of the field to congratulate themselves for the sweep.

Afterward, crew chief Tim Tschida told a pool reporter that any form of contact between the coach and runner is against the rules.

"The ruling on the play is that a base coach either touching, physically assisting in any way, with the baserunner is not allowed and the runner is called out," said Tschida, who claimed that the Rangers argued that any contact was accidental. "They can't make contact."

That rule appears open for interpretation, though, according to the baseball rule book.

Rule 7.09h states that a runner is out when, "In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base."

Washington, a former third-base coach for Oakland, said he remembers an instance when accidental contact with a runner did not result in an out. Anderson said that his understanding of the rule is absolutely no contact.

"I think Michael and I would have felt something if we had touched each other," Anderson said. "You can't even touch him, let alone grab him or hold him up. Obviously, there was no physical assisting. I don't need to look at a replay to see that."

One thing is certain: The Rangers were swept at Target Field for the second time this season and finished the year 0-12 at New York, Tampa Bay and Minnesota - three probable playoff teams.

C.J. Wilson (14-6) lost for the first time since the All-Star break, allowing all six runs in 5 1/3 innings as control issues helped fuel the Twins' offense.

The Rangers' lead in the American League West held at eight games on a day they learned Josh Hamilton could miss a week and Cliff Lee might not start until Sunday.

The call at third base was a frustrating end to a weekend that had been frustrating enough.

"You certainly shouldn't have a game end on something like that, especially when you're out there for the hours you're out there and played as hard as we played to get back in the ballgame," Washington said. "When you look at the replay, it's obvious that (Anderson) never touched (Young). Maybe (Marquez) had a plane to catch."


(c) 2010, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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