|ESPN.com: SweetSpot||[Print without images]|
"We have nobody to blame but ourselves for not wrapping it up last week at home," Jim Leyland said yesterday.
"Shame on us."
But that doesn't change how Detroit's manager felt about a key moment in the 163d game of the season.
Replays appeared to show that Brandon Inge's jersey was grazed by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 12th inning at Minnesota on Tuesday night, but the umpire didn't award him first base to force home a go-ahead run.
The Twins went on to score in the home half of the inning to win, 6-5, and advance to the postseason.
"I'm really upset that it ended the way it did, having Brandon get hit by a pitch, because that totally , it's changes that game," Leyland said. "I can understand how the ump didn't see the pitch hit him, but to say video was inconclusive upsets me, because everybody in America saw that it did."
Plate umpire Randy Marsh said he did not see a replay that showed the ball hit Inge and Major League Baseball's vice president of umpires, Mike Port, stood by Marsh.
Having said that, it's hard to have a great deal of sympathy for Leyland and his Tigers. If an umpire's going to blow a call, that's exactly the call you'd like him to blow. Why? Because while it's probably necessary to award first base to a player whose clothing has been grazed by a baseball, it's also regrettable. Inge was wearing a particularly loose jersey, and while the baseball certainly did touch the jersey, it might also have been two or three inches away from touching Inge's person. The spirit of the rule is intended to discourage pitchers from striking batters with baseballs; it's not to discourage pitchers from throwing within two or three inches.
Yes, yes, I know ... that's the rule. But that's not an easy thing for an umpire to see, and I'm actually surprised that they call it correctly as often as they do. Marsh just happened to miss this one, just as umpires missed calls all season long that cost the Tigers in some games, and helped them in others.
The Tigers were outscored this season. If they'd played better, one lousy call wouldn't have mattered.