Texas Rangers: Tim Welke
April, 22, 2012
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
DETROIT -- Texas Rangers utility infielder Alberto Gonzalez smiled when asked if the ball that he bunted on a successful suicide squeze in the 11th inning hit his right knee. The play ended up being the difference in a 3-2 Rangers victory. Texas is 13-3 on the season and went 8-1 on a nine-game road trip through Minnesota, Boston and Detroit.
"Yes," Gonzalez said through an interpreter (teammate Elvis Andrus). "As soon as I hit it, I kept going. I didn't want to stay there and see what happened. I wanted to run hard and see if the umpire would call it. It was a good thing he didn't call it."
Gonzalez put down the bunt as Nelson Cruz headed home from third. The Detroit Tigers didn't have anyone covering first base, so Gonzalez was safe, keeping the bases loaded after Cruz scored. Mitch Moreland ended up hitting into a double play and the Rangers didn't score any more runs in the inning. Joe Nathan came in and got the save for the 3-2 win.
After seeing the replays after the game, home plate umpire Tim Welke said the ball went off Gonzalez's knee.
"We did not see the ball hit anybody on the field," Welke said. "We called what we saw, and we didn't see him get hit."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland came out to argue after the play and asked Welke for a conference. But none of the other umpires saw anything definitive, so the call stood.
"I saw just what it did: The ball came down and hit him on the back knee. Clearly. Clearly. That's not even a question," Leyland told The Associated Press. "The ball clearly hit him, and four guys happened to miss it. That's part of the game."
Manager Ron Washington said after the game that he hadn't seen a replay and wasn't sure whether the ball hit Gonzalez. But he added that if the crew had reversed the call, he would have argued.
"I probably would have sprinted out of the dugout and lost my mind," Washington said. "Then I would have had to call and apologize if the replay showed it did."
Washington said he felt he had the "right guy up in the right situation" to make that call.
"If I was going to do it, I needed to try it right there," Washington said.
Washington made the call despite the fact that Gonzalez had never executed a squeeze in a big league game. The manager said he didn't know that, but that he stressed in spring training that all of his players had to be ready to make that kind of play when needed.
"He's one of the guys in our lineup that should be able to bunt," Washington said. "When the executing has to be done and we're in the right part of the lineup, they're the guys that are supposed to be able to execute. I was just happy that we got it."