September 17, 2009
This and almost every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts at Boston's Fenway Pahhk, which can an intimidating place to play — and to umpire, Angels closer and major league saves leader Brian Fuentes(notes) reports.
Game of the Day: Red Sox 9, Angels 8
Fraidy Cats: The umps called 'em as they saw 'em — twice giving Red Sox pinch hitter Nick Green(notes) the benefit of the doubt before he worked a two-out tying walk in the bottom of the ninth. So, Fuentes called out umpires, saying they let the atmosphere at the venerable Fens factor into their judgment.
"Especially here, and some other places, they seem timid to make calls," Fuentes said. "I've heard it from other guys that come in here and say that. That's either because it's a mistake, or they're scared."
Fenway Futility: And reporters everywhere have found a possible theme for an upcoming ALDS. The Angels are 0-4 in postseason series against the Red Sox and have dropped 12-of-13 games against them going back to Dave Henderson and Donnie Moore. Will they be able to overcome all of that history and the umpires?
Judging by his reactions during the game and his comments after the Red Sox rallied for two runs and the stunning victory, Angels manager Mike Scioscia will gladly pay the fine coming Fuentes' way.
Here's video of Green's at-bat, speed-reader style.
"What was the count at the end, 3-4 to Green? Scioscia said sarcastically. "I thought we had him a couple of times. I was surprised. It's a good umpiring crew and I think we really feel strongly they missed a couple times we had Green struck out. Unfortunately, that's the focal point of the game and it didn't go our way."
It's one thing to say that Jeff Kellogg, a 16-year veteran, missed calling a swing on Green for strike three. And it's one thing to say that Rick Reed, a 27-year veteran, blew a called-third strike on a pitch at the knees and down the middle of the plate.
It's another to say the umpires were intimidated into being inert.
Call it both ways, Blue: It happens — especially in NBA games, like at the old Boston Garden — where officials seem to get "caught up" in the mood of the crowd and make calls dictated by the "flow" of the game. But Fuentes is making a major accusation that visiting teams don't get a fair shake at Fenway — which is hard enough to play in, considering its wacky dimensions and that the Red Sox usually are very good. Not to mention the smell coming from inside the Green Monster.
But Fuentes, a four-time All-Star, has a frustrated world view right now. His ERA this month is around 7.00 and he's allowing people on base at better than a .385 clip. It's hard for umpires to give close calls to struggling pitchers. Fuentes started the inning with two quick outs, but got intro trouble with wildness. He started Nick Green 0-and-2, but couldn't close the deal with him, either.
Scioscia has seemed close to taking his job away several times, but Fuentes still has 41 saves in 48 opportunities — just a little off his 2008 pace and better than a lot of guys. It's Fuentes who's his own worst enemy right now. Not umpires.
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Feelin' Rundown (Fenway intimidated me into making these capsules go the Red Sox's way):
Rockies 4, Giants 3: After Tulo's error in the ninth, I thought for sure the Rox were going to melt down, but Rafael Betancourt(notes) (right) wriggled out of a jammy jam. This is the biggest win of the season for the Rox, who were looking at a 1 1/2-game lead if the Giants pulled it out. Hard to believe Jorge De La Rosa(notes) started the season 0-6. He's 15-9.
Athletics 4, Rangers 0: Did Ron Washington send the Rangers to a hypnotist? Because I think they all fell asleep. One hit last night, and one run scored in three games against the A's (and it's not the '73 A's or the '89 A's) and they were shut out in the last game of the series before that. I'm telling you, they're going to wake up and Elvis Andrus(notes) will be clucking like a chicken.
Marlins 5, Cardinals 2: I see this happening to the Cardinals in the playoffs, too. Unless it doesn't.
Mariners 4, White Sox 1: The White Sox don't pull weight, OK?
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1-2-3 (IHOP/Waffle House, call it):
Reds 6, Astros 5: Five dinger defeat!
Braves 6, Mets 5: Mets, the meat.