Major League Baseball’s rulebook splayed out on his desk in Kauffman Stadium’s visiting clubhouse, Mike Scioscia spoke vehemently late Wednesday night. He believed an umpiring misinterpretation robbed his Angels of a victory that could have been theirs.
Ahead by two runs on Kansas City in the seventh inning, with Royals on first and second bases, Matt Shoemaker fielded a sacrifice bunt by Raul Mondesi Jr., turned and threw the baseball into right field. Kole Calhoun slipped when he tried to pick it up at the wall and both Royals runners scored while Mondesi took third base.
Scioscia emerged at once. The Angels manager argued to home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi that Mondesi ran inside the first-base line, impeding Shoemaker’s throw and invalidating everything else that happened afterward.
Scioscia said he was “100%” confident he was correct on the matter. He said he expected the protest to be granted and the game to replayed, resuming with one out in the seventh inning and the runners where they started.
“It’s very clear,” Scioscia said. “Phil Cuzzi had Mondesi running inside the line in jeopardy the whole way, and stated that it was OK because he was stepping back towards the bag, which is wrong. You’re only OK if you start in the lane and step back in…You’re in jeopardy the whole way if you run inside, whether you get to the bag or not. So the question wasn’t if the throw impeded him, or if he impeded the throw. The question wasn’t if he was running inside. It’s, what I believe, is his misinterpretation of the rule, given the guidelines that he gave me.
“There’s no judgment involved. [Cuzzi] admitted that [Mondesi] was outside the line. …That’s the basis of the protest.”
Royals Manager Ned Yost saw it more simply. He read MLB Rule 5.09 — that a judgment call cannot be reviewed — off an iPhone during his postgame news conference.
Thirty-five minutes after the game ended, Cuzzi entered Scioscia’s office alongside umpire supervisor Steve Palermo. They talked for half an hour before Cuzzi exited and declined to speak to reporters. The time it all took was what most irked players on both sides.
“I wish they would’ve just kind of ruled how they called it, and let the game be, if they weren’t going to change it,” said Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella, who tried to receive Shoemaker’s throw. “It’s kind of a frustrating way to lose the game.”
Said Shoemaker: “It was way too freakin’ long.”
“Six strong innings, and then in the seventh, just a bunch of crap,” Shoemaker added. “And we lose the game.”
The bunt was a ruled a hit, the first of Mondesi’s career. Shoemaker regretted even attempting to record an out on the play.
After the ruling, Jarrod Dyson smashed Shoemaker’s third pitch into the right-field corner for a go-ahead, run-scoring triple. He scored on a sacrifice fly. To twist the sword, Mondesi reached on another ground ball to the left side in the eighth inning when Angels reliever Jose Alvarez made a throwing error, allowing an additional run to score.
Down four runs, the Angels rallied against an unusually shaky Wade Davis with two hits and three walks to bring the go-ahead run to bat in the ninth before Jett Bandy struck out to end the game.
Shoemaker started the game with the dominating stuff he has showcased for two months now, and Royals left-hander Danny Duffy was similarly sharp. Gregorio Petit notched the first hit for either team when he shot a single to left in the third inning. Giavotella followed with a double to left, but Duffy retired Yunel Escobar and Kole Calhoun to strand both men in scoring position.
In the fifth inning, Bandy and Petit worked walks, and Giavotella knocked a single up the middle. Looking at the bases loaded without an out, Escobar grounded into a double play, his 19th of 2016, the most in the major leagues. It still scored the game’s first run.
As Shoemaker carried a perfect game, Salvador Perez broke it up with one out in the fifth, blasting a fastball nearly to the right-field wall. Off at the sound, Calhoun dove and timed the baseball into his glove, only to see it bounce out for a double.
Perez would score on a subsequent double. The Angels added a run in the sixth inning, when Mike Trout snuck a ball under Paulo Orlando’s glove in right field and scampered home on Jefry Marte’s second double, and scored another in the top half of the seventh before the filibustering confounding bottom half.
“I hit him, but it was also a terrible throw,” Shoemaker said. “He was going to be safe anyway. I should’ve held on to it.”
Two years and one month ago, Shoemaker had the worst start of his major league career in this ballpark, when he yielded eight runs on 11 hits in four innings. He pitched wonderfully against Kansas City in the playoffs that season, and pitched well again Wednesday night, until the seventh, when it veered into the awfully memorable again.
The Angels and Royals have a mutual off day Aug. 8, amid a Kansas City homestand, and a travel day for the Angels between Seattle and Chicago. Ostensibly, if Scioscia’s request is granted, the game’s final three innings would be replayed then.
One protest has been granted within the last 30 years, in 2014, when the Chicago Cubs waited to put out a tarp during a win when rain made Wrigley Field unplayable.