ANAHEIM, CALIF. – With starter Jered Weaver out of the game, the Twins had to like their chances in the ninth inning on Wednesday against Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, who blew a game with authority on Tuesday night.
Sure enough, Clete Thomas walked. Doug Bernier fouled two bunts, but there was Frieri helping the Twins out by plunking him.
Runners were on first and second with no outs. Justin Morneau was batting. The Angel Stadium crowd was nervous.
Then something went the wrong way. Some would say that the Twins were robbed.
Morneau popped up a ball near the mound. It looked like a situation made for the infield fly rule to be called, but no one from crew chief Ted Barrett’s umpiring crew moved a muscle.
Frieri got near the ball and let it drop. He gathered the ball and threw to first to retire Morneau as the other surprised runners took off. Bernier ended up in a rundown and was tagged out as Thomas advanced to third.
Why no infield fly rule?
“For an infield fly, we look for if the ball has arc and if the fielder can catch it with ordinary effort, and if the fielder gets comfortably underneath,” Barrett said. “That one definitely had enough arc, but the fielder has to get comfortably underneath the ball to catch it. That’s the criteria that wasn’t met.”
Poppycock, the Twins said.
“There’s a reason why he wasn’t camped underneath it,’’ manager Ron Gardenhire said, “because he was going to let it fall.’’
Bernier ended up in a tough spot. “I kind of felt like I was in no-man’s land trying to get to second base,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting anything to happen. All I was doing was waiting to see what was going to happen. The ball fell, there was no call so I tried to go from there.”
With the infield fly rule, runners can remain at their bases and advance at their own risk while the batter is out. Since the rule wasn’t used, the Angels were able to get two outs. Frieri, now off the ropes, struck out Chris Herrmann to close out a 1-0 victory — one night after Herrmann hit a 10th-inning grand slam off him.
“That rule was put it to avoid that happening,’’ Morneau said. “Those are the breaks.’’
The last time Weaver faced the Twins in his home stadium, he threw a no-hitter on May 2, 2012.
There was some of that dominance Wednesday. Weaver held the Twins to two hits and one walk over eight innings. If not for Bernier’s single in the first inning, the Twins would have been sweating out another no-hit situation.
“You know you have your work cut out when you face him,” Ryan Doumit said.
Disciplined, not promoted
Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia seemed to be a candidate to replace new father Joe Mauer on the roster when he was lifted from Class AAA Rochester’s game after one at-bat Tuesday. But Arcia was actually removed from the game in the top of the third for not hustling.
Officially, Red Wings manager Gene Glynn told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, “[Arcia’s] eyes were blurry.” Glynn met with Arcia in private after the game.
“He was sent down there with a couple other guys to get his swing back and getting back to playing the way he can play,” Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said. “And you’re not going to get better when you’re watching the game. We fully support Mr. Glynn.”
The Twins placed Mauer on the paternity list, meaning he has three days to return to the team. Catcher Drew Butera flew in to take his roster spot, not Arcia.
Arcia entered Tuesday 7-for-11 with two home runs since being sent to Rochester right before the All-Star break. He returned to the Red Wings lineup on Wednesday.