Umpires miss more calls in Game 4 of ALCS

Oct 21, 2009 - 5:57 AM ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The umpires had another rough night in Game 4 of the AL championship series.

Two blown calls went against the Angels during a 10-1 loss to the New York Yankees. Neither cost Los Angeles a run, but it was the latest round of shaky umpiring this October - and the string of missed calls has been an embarrassment to Major League Baseball throughout the playoffs.

"I haven't seen it as bad as it was tonight," said Yankees Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, now a senior adviser with the team.

In the fourth inning Tuesday, Dale Scott called New York's Nick Swisher safe at second base after Swisher was clearly tagged by shortstop Erick Aybar before he could get back to the bag on a pickoff throw by Scott Kazmir.

In the fifth, Swisher hit a comebacker to Darren Oliver, who immediately threw to the plate and caught Jorge Posada in a rundown. Mike Napoli ran Posada back to the bag while Robinson Cano coasted into third, and the Angels' catcher ended up tagging both runners standing off the bag - first Cano, then Posada. But crew chief Tim McClelland ruled that only Posada was out.

"I thought Cano was on the base," said McClelland, a longtime veteran and one of baseball's most respected umpires.

He acknowledged the video replay showed that Cano was off the base when he was tagged.

"I did not see that, for whatever reason," said McClelland, who spoke in the interview room after the game but did not take questions. "I'm just out there trying to do my job and do it the best I can."

The Angels did get a break in the fourth when Swisher was called out for leaving third base too soon on Johnny Damon's fly to center. Swisher was called out on an appeal, resulting in an inning-ending double play - though replays appeared to show Swisher did not leave early.

"In my heart, I thought he left too soon," McClelland said. "But the replay showed that he didn't."

Jackson thinks McClelland deserves some slack.

"Tonight was not a good day for the umpires, but it will happen," he said. "The third base umpire is recognized as one of the great umpires. No doubt. He umped when I played. So if one of your best umpires in baseball has a bad night, I do not hold it against him."

There was another disputed call in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, when first base ump Laz Diaz ruled Torii Hunter out on his sixth-inning bunt. Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued that first baseman Mark Teixeira's foot came off the bag when he stretched for CC Sabathia's throw.

"One umpire said something about a week or so ago in New York, an umpire said, `We do our best to be perfect, and it can't be done.' And that is true," Jackson said in the Yankees' clubhouse after the game. "It just seems like the advent of replay makes it more pronounced. They didn't show the plays (over and over) as much as they do now. There's more coverage and more scrutiny."

In the AL division series between the Angels and Boston Red Sox, there were several missed calls - including two by CB Bucknor at first base in Game 1.

Late in Game 2 of the Twins-Yankees series, umpire Phil Cuzzi called Joe Mauer's drive foul even though it clearly landed fair in the corner. Cuzzi was working the left-field line. His call denied Mauer a leadoff double for Minnesota.

In the Phillies-Rockies series, plate umpire Jerry Meals didn't see that a ball hit by Philadelphia's Chase Utley grazed him in the batter's box. It should have been called foul, but Utley wound up with a crucial infield single.

After watching a replay, Meals acknowledged that he missed the call.

"The difference between now and when I played is that back then, the best umpires did the postseason," Jackson said. "The best umpires should be there."

Asked if instant replay should be used on all close calls except for balls and strikes, Jackson said: "It seems like it to me. That's a commissioner issue, but I would be for it. The commissioner, for one thing, is a baseball fan, so I think that he'll get it right."

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