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Umpire Angel Hernandez makes wrong call because he was 'basically blinded by the outfield scoreboard' in KC

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MLB umpire Angel Hernandez said that he was forced to guess if a fly ball was caught Tuesday night because of the outfield scoreboard on the wall at Kauffman Stadium. And he guessed wrong.

The bizarre situation happened in the third inning of the Cleveland Indians' 7-3 win over the Kansas City Royals. KC catcher Salvador Perez hit a fly ball to right-center field between CF Harold Ramirez and RF Josh Naylor. Ramirez went to catch the ball and it bounced off the tip of his glove and landed on the warning track.

That's when things got weird. 

Whit Merrifield was on third base and scored on the play to give the Royals a 2-0 lead. Andrew Benintendi was on second base and ended up getting caught in between second and third because he was confused about the outcome of the fly ball. Was it caught? Did it drop? 

Benintendi was tagged out before he got back to second base for what looked to be the second out of the inning. But it wasn't an out because of Hernandez's incorrect guess.

Hernandez thought the ball had been caught at the warning track and signaled that Perez's fly ball was an out. That call led to Benintendi being unsure of what happened. After Hernandez's wrong call and Benintendi getting tagged out, the umpiring crew got together and awarded Benintendi third base in an extremely unusual move. 

Hernandez explained why after the game. 

“Our goal was to get the play right and that’s exactly what we did,” Hernandez told the Athletic after the game. “We did talk about this. Replay is an extension of what we do out there. As you saw, I got basically blinded by the outfield scoreboard. The pixels on the lights were as clear as white can be. I was trying to make out what happened out there. The harder I looked, the less I could see. So I was trying to read the players to see what they did with the ball. And I had to come out with the call. I basically guessed on the wrong call. So as soon as I turned around, [home plate umpire Edwin Moscoso] started walking towards me. We got the crew together. And we fixed the problem.”

It's rare to hear an umpire admit that he got a call wrong; it's nice to see Hernandez admit his error and explain the crew's immediate attempts to get the call right. But his explanation leads to another question. Why was he guessing on the call to begin with?

If Hernandez really couldn't see what was going on in the outfield, shouldn't he have let the situation play out and then ask his crew for help? Had there been no guess — and no incorrect call — the umpiring crew could have let the play unfold naturally without having to rectify an extremely confusing sequence.

Thankfully for Cleveland, Hernandez's guess didn't lead to any Royals runs. The Royals didn't score the rest of the inning and Cleveland scored four runs in the eighth inning to win its second consecutive game over the Royals. 

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 06: Umpire Angel Hernandez #5 looks on from first base during Game One of the National League Divisional Series between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Globe Life Field on October 06, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Angel Hernandez admitted that he guessed on a fly ball call in the third inning of Tuesday night's game in Kansas City. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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