|Dustin Pedroia: ‘Season isn’t over because an umpire missed a call’||09.19.11 at 5:50 pm ET|
The easy and obvious way to look at the fifth inning of Monday’s first game is to say it’s simply a microcosm of the disastrous month of September for the Red Sox.
They fall behind 6-1 only to make a mid-game rally, with several line drive hits off the bats of their most important batters. And then an umpire misses a crucial call that costs them a run that would’ve tied the game.
With two runs already in during a two-out rally and Dustin Pedroia standing on third, David Ortiz lined a frozen rope down the right field line. The ball caromed off the Scott’s lawn sign and rolled out to Nick Markakis. But first base umpire Mike Estabrook didn’t see it that way.
He saw the ball hitting just to the right of the foul line on the wall, taking away what would’ve been a run-scoring double to make it a one-run game. Instead, the Red Sox lost the run and the game, 6-5, falling to 4-14 in September and watching their wild-card lead dwindle to 1 1/2 games over the Rays.
“It’s just a break in the game, they got it, that’s basically it,” Pedroia said. “We’ve played a 100-whatever games and we’re not going to say our season is over because an umpire missed a call. We’re better than that. Yeah, it’s frustrating, another hit, it’s a big hit but it didn’t go our way.”
Terry Francona – after getting a signal from first base coach Ron Johnson that it was clearly fair – came out to protest and had no doubt it was fair, especially after seeing the replay.
“I know it was, by about a foot-and-a-half,” Francona said. “I know it’s a tough corner. They can’t get replay because it’s not a home run so I ask him, ‘Can you ask everybody?’”
That’s exactly what home plate umpire Mike Winters, second base ump Mark Wegner and third base ump Mike Everitt. No luck. The crew decided that no one had a good enough look to overrule.
“You hate to tell them that but the guys in the dugout, they’ve already seen it,” Francona said. “I’d like to get this call right. I wish they could’ve kept asking somebody else but they ran out of people to ask.”
Pedroia, who would’ve scored, thought it was fair, too.
“I was running down the line,” he said. “It looked fair. You can only replay it if it’s a home run so it was his call and he made it.”
It was Johnson who had the best look of all among those in Red Sox uniform.
“I knew the ball was fair,” Johnson told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier. “I was just watching the Pole. The ball was past the Pole, so I knew the ball was fair,” said Johnson. “To see right down that line I’d have to run down the line and almost look in fair territory to see it. So I just turned, looked, bam, looked at the Pole, ball goes by it. I saw the ball go by it. Then I was kind of baffled. I didn’t understand why there was a delay.
“[Eastabrook is] right on the line. He’s a good ump, too. I’ve known him for years. That really surprised me. Just from where I was, looking down the line, I didn’t think it was that difficult a call. I don’t get that one. When I turned to look, I didn’t even give it a thought that it wasn’t fair. I turned to Papi like, let’s go, and then when he threw his hands foul, I was like, ‘What?’”
Johnson suggested that the umpiring crew — which did not have access to video replay because it was not a question of whether the ball was or was not a home run — would feel similarly.
“If they’re looking at it now,” said Johnson, “they’re kicking themselves.”
“It’s huge,” added Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “This game is about momentum, especially at that point. We fought back and brought the game within two. David’s ball scores a run and we get another run later on and we’re still playing. But at the same, momentum, who knows what happens if they get the call right and David’s standing at third.”
“Nothing you can do in the second game but try to come back and hit the ball fair,” added Ortiz.
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