About that interference call

Somebody in the Comerica Park box office put it best: No matter whether the umpires ruled on the eighth-inning interference call, whether Jhonny Peralta was allowed to score or had to stay at third base, one manager was going to get thrown out of the game.

Since Peralta came home with the go-ahead run and wasn’t sent back, it was Twins manager Ron Gardenhire getting tossed. And upon further review, he might have been right to react that way.

It was a very close play from a distance that no umpire usually has to make a ruling like that. And to be fair, I can’t be sure whether crew chief Gary Darlling actually meant that the fan in the orange shirt committed the interference that was called, or whether he was one of the people who touched it after one of the fans leaning over the railing touched it. The latter makes more sense, and from the camera angles available during the game, I thought it was hard to tell. It seemed like the indication on the field was that the second fan leaning over the railing might have touched it. One would think it would’ve been easier to tell from field level.

But if it really was the fan in the orange who was the first to touch the ball, replays showed he wasn’t leaning out into the field of play to do it. He really wasn’t leaning out at all until after the ball hit the boy beside him. That’s the difference between an interference call and a ground-rule double, which is the difference between an umpire’s discretion to allow a runner coming around third to score, and an automatic two-base ruling which would’ve left Peralta at third.

“I don’t care who it hit,” Gardenhire said. “When it hits a fan in the stands, it’s a ground-rule double and you don’t score. However you want to call it, that guy doesn’t score. So it doesn’t make sense to me, and what they told me didn’t make any sense, either.”

I’ve seen people on the message boards make the case that Delmon Young paid for giving up on that play too quickly, that he was supposedly too lazy to run it down and make a play at the play plate. Sorry, but whatever the ruling, I’m not buying that. Every player I can think of on highlights like that goes for the interference signal as soon as they notice it. I’ve never heard anybody coached not to do that. The sooner the signal, the sooner the call, the better chance of getting the runner held at third. If the two sides were reversed and it’s, say, Ryan Raburn or Andy Dirks in left field and he plays through the play, he would be crucified for not making it clear that ball was interfered with.

Let’s be honest: That’s a play where, based on how the umpires rule, whichever team benefits from the call supposedly did everything right to sell it. And on the other side, somebody will use it as further evidence for expansion of replay review.

Remember all the calls that went against the Tigers last year around this time? Jim Joyce? The phantom strike three on Johnny Damon in Atlanta? Well, this one went in their favor.

A few other notes before I finish up what’s left of this holiday weekend:

  • If you thought Brad Penny was throwing a lot more curveballs than usual, you would be right. According to brooksbaseball.net, using data from MLB.com Gameday, 28 of Penny’s 105 pitches were curveballs, or about 26 percent. That’s double the percentage of curveballs from all his previous outings this season, according to fangraphs.com. Both Penny and Alex Avila said the curveball was working well and they wanted to establish it early, then it waned a bit later. By contrast, brooksbaseball.net had him with only 14 sinkers today, a lot less than he’s been throwing it lately. But fastball command probably played into that.
  • Jim Leyland talked after the game about guys needing to expand their strike zone just a bit when they get into two-strike counts in situations where they need to put the ball in play to get a run in. He said that comes with experience. Still, it’s hard to accuse Austin Jackson of not expanding his strike zone, sometimes a little too much in some situations.
  • For all that will be made of Leyland’s decision to hit Casper Wells in place of Andy Dirks, it’s very difficult to dismiss the righty-lefty idea in that situation, especially with Phil Dumatrait on the mound. Wells played with Dumatrait at Triple-A Toledo early last season. For Wells so far this season, the splits are reversed, he has actually been a little better against right-handers than left-handers, and his strikeout rate is higher against lefties.

12 Comments

For what it’s worth, Casper Wells is 4 x 7 off of Duensing with a pair of doubles and zero strikeouts.
I think I’d be playing him.

Raburn is 2 x 16 against him.

I was at the game and obviously you couldn’t tell anything with that play in the eighth. Watched a replay at home and it was still really hard to tell what went on. But he is my take I don’t feel sorry for the flipping Twins for one second!!!! I seem to remember a really bad call in game 163 (ie Inge hit by pitch) which allowed them to go to the playoffs and the Tigers were sent packing. Twins traditionally have been the most fortunate team and I am just got glad that we got the break this time.

I wonder what line up the SOC will use tonight. June 1st tomorrow and Raburn is batting under 200 with many stikeouts. I like how management just figured out the batters should swing it the 2 stike pitch is close.

I think Caspar Wells has gotten the short end of the stick. He made the team out of spring training, however Dirks is now getting more playing time (Dirks has played well). At this point, I hope they send Wells to Toledo when Maggs gets back so he can get some ABs. He is wasting away on the bench. That said both he and Jackson need to at least swing at both of those pitches in the 7th with 2 strikes. You learn that in Little League.

I agree that Wells has surely gotten the short end of the stick. It’s unfortunate, and to be honest I disagreed with keeping two extra outfielders to start the season. I thought it was a poor decision since one of the two young guys were going to get minimal playing time (knowing it would be Wells because of the massive love management has for Boesch. Especially Leyland.) Not saying Boesch did not deserve a chance, but if they told Raburn he was our LF and then benched him to play Boesch, what makes you think Wells was ever going to play? I would like to see Wells get more ABs up here, and if he’s hitting better than Boesch or Dirks once Maggs gets back then he deserves to say. Besides, both Boesch and Dirks are lefties, so it’d be nice to have a right-hander and a left-hander to play in that outfield spot. That being said, I’m sure he’s going to get the boot once Maggs is here, and it’s a bummer.

Good points. And as we see with tonight’s lineup, JL has no problem sending Raburn out to left, so there is definitely an odd outfielder out when Ordonez returns. And it won’t be Boesch. That leaves Dirks or Wells. Myself, I like what Dirks is bringing so far.

In the same mood as previous posts here:
Leyland says “You’ve got young players up there and that’s what happens sometimes,” manager Jim Leyland said. “It takes young players time to learn how to knock in runs.”

Step 1: Inform your players that swinging the bat is a natural precursor to hitting it.
Hint: If your players get paralyzed at the plate in clutch situations then your hitting coach has not helped them.

Yeah, that 7th inning was brutal and sure took the shine off that win, although I’ll take it. Jackson, with the easiest opportunity of all, simply froze up. Wells fouled back a couple of hittable pitches then seemed to be waiting for the next one. Boesch, while have a fairly decent year at the plate, is not strong in that type of situation. JL is correct in his assessment. It would be nice to have veteran hitters sprinkled among the kids, but that begins to get very complicated with so many youngsters along with veterans who aren’t hitting at all. Casper had the best shot in that inning. Leyland would love to know that we had fans who thought Jackson should bunt………..with the bases loaded. Hoo boy.
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I thought Raburn looked a little sharper at the plate even before his 7th innning single. Here’s hoping, but I’ve been fooled before.
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On fan interference from the front row, I think they do make an announcement before the game, don’t they? It probably gets lost in all the pregame hoopla and loud music, but it could be delivered in a way that is more attention grabbing. Instead of a friendly reminder, a booming threat might be in order. Or Al Kaline with a video board message.

Yes Rich they do make an announcement! But appearently people still dont listen.

IMHO, a young player is 11 years old. More double talk from the SOC defending the Pittsburg CC. I know major league experience is good. VMart looked at a 2-0 change up and then knocked the next pitch out of the park. Hey Victor, maybe you should be our player/hitting coach?

Doesnt matter one way or another as long as Leyland is there manager the tigers are destained to be a second rate team. I think he probally is one to the two or three worst managers in the majors. There trying to play a major league schdual with a minor league team.

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