DETROIT -- Saturday was not a good day for the Angels, who got a leadoff home run from J.B. Shuck and nothing else against Detroit co-ace Max Scherzer in a 5-2 loss that ended their improbable winning streak over the Tigers at 10 games dating to September 2012.
It was not a good day for Angels center fielder Mike Trout, 22, who made history of a different sort with the first four-strikeout game of his career, three against Scherzer and one against closer Joe Nathan.
It was not a very good day for the umpires, who missed two calls on the bases.
It was, however, a great day for baseball’s instant-replay system, which has been criticized in the first three weeks of the season but had an efficient and effective afternoon in Comerica Park.
“Instant replay is still a work in progress,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “But as time goes on and things are more defined … I think it will be something that is good for a manager and good for the game. We’ll see how it goes.”
It went well Saturday. With two on and no outs in the third inning, slugger Miguel Cabrera, who is not the fleetest of foot, tested the arm of Trout by tagging from second base on Torii Hunter’s fly to medium center field.
Cabrera was ruled out by umpire Gerry Davis, but it was clear after one replay that the call was missed. Manager Brad Ausmus challenged, and after a delay of only 1 minute 15 seconds, the call was overturned. Cabrera scored on Austin Jackson’s sacrifice fly to give Detroit a 3-1 lead.
The Angels had runners on first and third with two outs in the fourth when Ian Stewart, attempting to steal second, was called out by umpire Quinn Wolcott on a very close play.
Scioscia challenged, and after a 1:52 delay, which seemed reasonable considering the higher degree of difficulty of the call, Stewart was ruled safe. The Angels couldn’t capitalize, however, when Erick Aybar struck out to end the inning.
“Those were the right calls,” Scioscia said. “Replay is a good tool to have in case there’s a mistake that can affect the game.”
Now, if baseball can find a way to clarify its interpretation of the “transfer rule,” which has led to several reversals of outfield catches that wouldn’t have raised the eyebrows of umpires in the past, it would go a long way toward replay harmony.
The Angels fell victim to such a call in Seattle on April 8 when left fielder Josh Hamilton dropped Corey Hart’s fly ball on the glove-to-hand transfer and umpire Seth Buckminster’s initial out call was overturned on replay.
Hamilton, who squeezed the ball in his glove and pulled his glove to his chest before dropping the ball, said, “C’mon MLB, that’s terrible, and you can quote me on that.”
Said Scioscia: “I think the transfer rule has to be adjusted, particularly for a routine catch, and hopefully it will be. It’s very clear what the rule is. The rule needs to be changed.”
The rulebook requires a player to have “secure possession” of the ball in his glove or hand, but replay officials have interpreted the rule to include a clean transfer.
Scioscia argues that the rule was made decades ago “when gloves were like oven mitts,” and that replay officials should use common sense when applying it.
Foxsports.com reported Friday that officials from the players union met with MLB executives last week to voice their displeasure over what constitutes a catch and that MLB will discuss the transfer rule with the umpires union this week.
“I think when you catch a ball and you have possession, and the glove closes on it, that’s when the catch ends and a transfer begins,” Scioscia said. “That’s the clarity that rule needs, and hopefully it will be addressed.”