La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Postgame: Relay breaks down during big fourth inning

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 4, 2014 - 11:57 PM

The Angels scored four runs in the fourth inning off Kyle Gibson, but things might have been different if not for a botched relay. And given the fact that the Twins lost 5-4 on Thursday, it ended up being a significant play.

With Mike Trout on second and Josh Hamilton on first, Howie Kendrick lined a ball off the wall in left. As Jordan Schafer got in position to catch the ball off the wall, the infielders rushed into relay position. But everyone set up for a relay at home plate to get Hamilton.

``It this ballpark, the ball ricochets a lot,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Schafer caught the ball off the wall, spun and fired to second base - where no one was covering. The ball rolled through the infield and into the Twins dugout as Kendrick raced to third.

Schafer was charged with an error, but the error should have went to second baseman Brian Dozier or first baseman Joe Mauer because one of them should have covered second base.

``The second baseman can't break the relay system that quick,'' Gardenhire said. ``The shortstop is going out. (Dozier) has to hang around because you can stop doubles in this ballpark. Joe, the same thing. He can't concede and start heading toward cutting off at home until it's a guaranteed double.''

Replays showed Kendrick reaching second base as the ball skipped by the bag. He probably would have reached second if the bag would have been covered. Then again, he was able to run to the bag because it was unoccupied.  Perhaps it's different if the Twins have someone there.

Kendrick ended up with a free pass to third. That made it easy for him to score on Erick Aybar's single and Aybar scored on David Freese's double. Maybe things turn out differently. Maybe not. But it never got to that part.

``Either way, we should have a player a second base,'' Gardenhire said.

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