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Start Making Sense: Mariners 3, Tigers 2

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This was one of those games that makes you want to stomp up and down about the blown calls that prevented the Tigers from winning. But if I were on the other side, I'd look at the Tigers fan, point to the scoreboard and say, "You should've scored more runs, dude."

To me, that's what it ultimately comes down to: The Tigers scored only two runs on a night they got 11 hits. A double-digit number next to "LOB" might tell you all you need to know about the outcome of this game.

Except, of course, it doesn't. I don't think a box score has been invented that can explain what the hell happened on the basepaths in the fifth inning. The play in question absolutely froze Yahoo!'s GameTracker. And the only sentence I can come up with starts with "what," has a word that rhymes with "duck" in the middle, and ends with "was that?"

Of all the game stories I've read this morning, Tom Gage does the best, most succinct job of describing it:

Down 2-0 in the fifth, the Mariners had the bases loaded with two outs when Adrian Beltre singled to right, driving in two runners to tie the score. Beltre tried to take second on the throw home from right by Magglio Ordonez, but overslid the bag so far that he was able to evade repeated tag attempts by Guillen.

When Beltre got up and headed to third, Guillen chased him, and thought he tagged him, but there was no such call. When Guillen dropped the ball, after not getting the call, Richie Sexson scored the go-ahead run and Beltre safely took third.

Except for one thing.

Beltre never touched second, so when the Tigers appealed by throwing to second, Beltre was called out. All three runs counted, though.

After the game, Jim Leyland said it was "absolutely the right call," but I wonder if that was just to end the questioning about it and an attempt to ensure that his players didn't latch onto it as an excuse. The question is whether or not that third - and game-winning run - should've counted.

I don't think TV replays were conclusive enough to say Carlos Guillen definitely tagged Adrian Beltre, though it sure looked like he did. And a view from centerfield seemed to indicate that Beltre had indeed touched second base. So did Bruce Froemming give the Tigers the third out on an appeal because he thought he blew the tag call? Of course, I'd like to think so, but he presumably had a much better view of the proceedings than I did. But if Beltre missed the base, why wasn't he called out? John Lowe has the explanation:

It is not up to the umpires to call a runner out for missing a base. The other team has to make an appeal.

Froemming explained that a successful appeal play on a runner who missed a bag can take a run off the board in only a few instances: a play on a batter going to first base, or on a force play.

Otherwise, it is a "time play." And because all three runs scored by the time the Tigers got the third out on the appeal, all three runs counted.

So (and maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but I'm talking it out here to make sense of it all) if the third out technically wasn't recorded until Andrew Miller threw the ball back to Carlos Guillen, who then touched second base on an appeal, then yes, the third run counts. What's maddening is that it wouldn't/shouldn't have counted if Froemming had ruled that Guillen tagged Beltre out because that happened before Richie Sexson crossed home plate.

At least Froemming didn't run and hide from the press after the game:

"Once Beltre reached first base, everything after that counted until they made the appeal," Froemming said.

[...]

"Guillen claimed that he tagged him," Froemming said. "Casey said that Guillen got him. Then they said, 'Well, he missed the base.'

"Leyland's argument was he missed the base. Then they figured it out. I said, 'Time is out. We've got to put the ball back in play.' That's when they went for the appeal. I can't tell them he missed the bag."

I'll spend the rest of the morning with a sour look on my face, wondering how or why an umpire can't make that call the moment it occurs, but if the Tigers had driven in any of the 11 baserunners they stranded, the play would've just been "quirky" and I wouldn't have devoted more than 600 words to it.

I'll also be thinking that Froemming shouldn't have been the only umpire to explain himself last night. How about Mike Winters answering for why he tossed Pudge Rodriguez out of the game for what a football ref would term "incidental contact"? Or for not calling Yuniesky Betancourt out for batter's interference? Rule 6.06 (c) in the MLB rulebook states the following:

A batter is out for illegal action when --

(c) He interferes with the catcher's fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter's box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher's play at home base.

Betancourt stepped right in front of Pudge while he was trying to make the throw. Was he not called out because he still had a foot in the batter's box? Because the momentum of his swing "unintentionally" carried him into that position? Or did Winters just blow the call?

I'm not saying I'd act like an emotionless robot when someone was yelling in my face, but I don't know if I'd relish a confrontation either, and it sure as hell looked like Winters was. Who knows what Pudge may have said to goad him, but how often do you see an umpire pointing fingers right back at the player as he's arguing? And how about the wild overreaction to Pudge "bumping" him when he was bending down to repeat his point that Betancourt was standing across the plate during the throw? That wasn't exactly a Carl Everett headbutt.

Did the Tigers lose because Pudge was thrown out of the game? Probably not, though you could certainly wonder if maybe Pudge could've helped Andrew Miller when he couldn't control throwing the fastball inside. But it was, as Rod Allen called it, "an unfortunate play."

And I'll be ticked off at both Winters and Froemming until the first pitch is thrown tonight. Even if my calmer, rational side tells me the Tigers should've scored more runs when they had Felix Hernandez reeling.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. Winters did speak with reporters after the game. I still think he completely overreacted.