ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The umpires didn’t need instant replay to reverse a home run call this time because it was so obvious.
Vladimir Guerrero tied the score with an RBI triple in the eighth and Gary Matthews Jr. drove him in with another three-base hit two batters later, helping the Angels win 5-3 on Sunday to earn a split of the four-game series.
The Twins were leading 3-2 in the eighth when Jason Kubel hit a high, arching drive down the right-field line that was called a home run by first base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. While Kubel rounded the bases, an incredulous Mike Scioscia came running out of the Angels dugout to argue and implore Wendelstedt to get a second opinion from his crew mates.
It didn’t take long for the ruling to be overturned, and Kubel ended up striking out against rookie reliever Jose Arredondo (6-1).
“It was pretty unanimous right from the beginning,” said crew chief Randy Marsh, who worked third base. “Nobody likes to reverse one, and I’ve been involved with some in pretty big situations like that. But when you get the call right, everyone’s behind you—the media and the teams on the field.”
Management and the umpires’ union signed an agreement last Wednesday, leaving a deal with players as the next step to bring instant replay into baseball for the first time to help with calls on home runs. The necessary equipment is still being installed in all 30 ballparks.
Commissioner Bud Selig has softened his stance this year on instant replay following several blown calls. Umpires will be allowed to check video to determine whether balls cleared fences or went by the foul pole in fair territory.
“It’s inevitable that we’re going to use it, as long as it’s just where home run calls and borderline calls are concerned,” Marsh said. “We just have to make sure it’s a system that doesn’t delay the game any more.”
Trailing 3-0, the Angels got on the board when Mark Teixeira led off the sixth with his third home run of the series and seventh in 23 games since joining the AL West leaders in a trade with Atlanta on July 29.
Teixeira led off the eighth with a double against Dennys Reyes and scored when Guerrero drove an 0-1 pitch from Jesse Crain (5-3) over the head of center fielder Carlos Gomez for his third triple of the season. Torii Hunter struck out, but Matthews tripled into the right-field corner for the go-ahead run and came home on Juan Rivera’s sacrifice fly.
Arredondo pitched a perfect eighth for the win, helped by the reversal of the home run call by Wendelstedt, and Rodriguez got three outs to put him within seven saves of Bobby Thigpen’s single-season record.
“I would love to get that record. I’m not going to lie to you,” Rodriguez said. “In the meantime, it’s something I can’t control. We’ve got a long way to go and I’m still looking forward to getting some more opportunities.
“I’m very blessed and very happy. All the work I put into it, I think it’s paid off. But I don’t want to sound selfish. It’s not all about me. It’s about the ballclub and winning ballgames.”
Justin Morneau homered and drove in three runs to reach the 100-RBI mark for the third straight season, but Minnesota fell out of first place in the AL Central, a half-game behind Chicago.
Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP, came in with one hit in his previous 31 at-bats against Angels pitching and a .182 career average against them—111 points lower than his lifetime average against the rest of the league. But that all changed when he singled, doubled and homered his first three times up—driving in a run each time against Ervin Santana.
Morneau’s two-out RBI single in the first enabled him to join Harmon Killebrew as the only players in franchise history with three consecutive 100-RBI campaigns. Both won the AL MVP award in the first year of their respective streaks.
“He’s a Hall of Famer and he had 573 homers, so he did a lot more in his career than I’ve done in mine so far,” Morneau said. “He’s the guy who’s got all the power records in our organization, so to have my name next to his is pretty nice. But I’ve still got a long way to go before I come even close to doing anything that he did.
“Maybe when I’m done playing, I’ll look back on it as a pretty good accomplishment. If we won the game, it would mean a lot more,” Morneau added. “But right now we’re in a pennant race, and we’re going to need more than just a hundred RBIs. I’m going to need to keep driving in runs and helping us win ballgames.”
AL batting leader Joe Mauer extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a third-inning single and came all the way around with Minnesota’s second run on a sinking line drive by Morneau to right that went under Matthews’ glove and rolled past him for an RBI double.
Matthews entered in the second inning after left fielder Garret Anderson departed with a sore left knee, forcing Rivera to shift over to the other corner spot.
Minnesota’s Denard Span was ejected by plate umpire Brian Gorman for arguing after taking a called third strike to end the game. … Santana allowed three runs over seven innings, struck out 10 and walked none. … Slowey allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings without walking a batter. He struck out five.