HOUSTON — Angel Hernandez had a rough night behind the plate, with players from both teams demonstratively complaining about his balls-and-strikes calls, particularly on pitches below the strike zone. But Twins manager Rocco Baldelli complimented the veteran umpire after the game for his determination to get an unusual call correct.
With two outs and Astro baserunners on first and second, Tyler Duffey threw a curveball to Carlos Correa that bounced on the ground, deflected off Mitch Garver’s mitt, and ricocheted just to the left of Correa in the right-handed batter’s box. Correa, perhaps trying to help and forgetting that runners were on base, stuck his hand out and touched the ball as it flew by. Realizing what he had done, Correa put his hand to his chest as if to show he didn’t mean to touch it.
Jose Altuve ran from second to third base, Michael Brantley moved up to second, and Baldelli jumped out of the dugout and approached Hernandez to complain.
“He initially disagreed, and thought that it was almost like an inconsequential touch, essentially, of the ball. But I just asked him to talk to Dana [Demuth, the crew chief] and talk to the umpires,” Baldelli said. “He doesn’t have to do that. He actually said, ‘I’m happy to do it,’ and they went over there and conferred.”
After a minute-long conference, the umpires reached a decision: Correa was out for obstruction of a live ball, and the inning was over. Correa and Astros manager A.J. Hinch argued, but the call stood.
“From our end, watching it from where we were sitting, it was the right call. I don’t know, Correa probably just reacted and swiped at the ball,” Baldelli said. “The thing is, from our point of view, if Altuve is on third, it’s hypothetical, but if he’s off the bag and Mitch is going to pounce on the ball and make a throw to third, we probably should have the opportunity to make a play there. The odds of that happening probably aren’t high, but you never know."