MLB suspends crew chief, fines umpires from Angels-Astros game

CHICAGO — Major League Baseball suspended the crew chief and fined all four umpires who botched a simple application of the rules in Thursday night's game between the Angels and Astros in Houston.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia protested the ruling, which was dropped after the Angels rallied for a 6-5 win, but MLB acknowledged Friday that the "rule covering pitching changes was not applied correctly by the umpiring crew."

MLB later announced that crew chief Fieldin Culbreth received a two-game suspension for the "misapplication" of baseball rules, and the other three members of the crew — Brian O'Nora, Bill Welke and Adrian Johnson — were fined.

Culbreth declined to discuss the ruling after Thursday night's game, but in an interview with a pool reporter after working Friday night's Tampa Bay-San Diego game, he took "full responsibility" for the mistake and accepted his punishment.

"Baseball has high standards for their umpires, and I have high standards for myself, and I didn't meet those standards last night," Culbreth said. "So I am absolutely OK with everything."

Culbreth acknowledged that he and his crew "got confused" over the rules governing pitching changes.

"At that point we thought we were doing the right thing," he said. "We now know that we were doing wrong."

Scioscia didn't do any gloating before the Angels' game Friday against the Chicago White Sox. "I don't want to speak much about that because the rule is very clear," he said. "But I will admit that after we were sitting there talking about it and we were so adamant, I was thinking, 'God, am I really that screwed up? Was I wrong here?'"

Scioscia was 100% right when he filed a protest over Astros Manager Bo Porter's move to replace one new relief pitcher with another when the Angels used a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. Baseball rules require a reliever to face at least one batter, barring injury or illness.

Scioscia said an apology from Culbreth or Joe Torre, MLB executive vice president of operations, was not necessary.

"We don't have to make too much of this," Scioscia said. "When something like this happens, you want to work through it and move on."

Porter told reporters in Houston on Friday that he made an honest mistake and had apologized to Culbreth and his crew. Scioscia went ballistic on the field, calling the umpiring decision "an embarrassment" in television replays.

"Mike Scioscia was right," Porter said.

Torre, speaking to MLB Network, said, "Umpires are the custodians of the game. They're the people we all look to. Unfortunately, they messed up."

MLB also admitted an umpiring error made Wednesday in a game between Cleveland and Oakland. Umpires failed to reverse a disputed double call on what replay clearly showed should have been a tying home run by Oakland's Adam Rosales. The call stood and Cleveland won, 4-3.

Hanson hiatus

Pitcher Tommy Hanson, who spent April 22-29 on the bereavement list, was placed on baseball's restricted list Friday while he deals with the emotional aftermath of his 24-year-old stepbrother's death. Left-hander Michael Roth was recalled from triple A.

Hanson, who had a 2-1 record and 4.18 earned-run average in five starts, was scheduled to pitch Friday but could miss several starts. There is no minimum or maximum number of days a player can spend on the restricted list.

"I think his family is very close," Scioscia said. "It's certainly a tough time for him."

For now, the Angels will attempt to rebound from their awful start with Barry Enright, who opened the season in the minor leagues, and Jerome Williams, who opened in the bullpen, in their rotation.

"Tommy was really starting to get comfortable on the mound," Scioscia said. "Hopefully we're going to get him back before he misses too much time."

Short hops

Shortstop Erick Aybar, who left Thursday's game because of right hamstring tightness, said he felt better Friday and expects to miss only two or three games. The right foot injury that knocked reliever Scott Downs out of Thursday's game is not serious enough to send him to the disabled list. … Peter Bourjos' left hamstring strain is expected to sideline him for about a month. The Angels hope the speedy center fielder returns by the end of May. … Reliever Kevin Jepsen will throw off a mound Saturday for the first time since he went on the DL because of a shoulder strain April 13.

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