The play probably made no difference in the outcome of the game between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers on Friday night, but first-base umpire Jeff Nelson clearly missed a call on a double-play attempt.
To make matters worse, when Mariners Manager Eric Wedge went to argue the call, he didn’t know what had actually happened.
With Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak on first and second bases after back-to-back singles to open the bottom of the second inning, Jesus Sucre hit a grounder to Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland, who began a 3-6-3 double play. Only it wasn’t a 3-6-3 double play.
Pitcher Justin Grimm, as he should, headed toward first base to cover the bag only to have Moreland beat him there to take the return throw from shortstop Elvis Andrus. Grimm, though, intercepted the throw a couple feet from the bag.
Nelson didn’t notice that Grimm had caught the ball and called Sucre out, thinking that Moreland had caught the ball. That brought Wedge out of the dugout, but he was arguing that Moreland was off the bag when making the catch, although he wasn’t and Wedge lost the appeal.
Moreland then followed Grimm back to the mound as Ibanez had advanced to third base, pretending to return the ball to the pitcher, who actually had it in his glove.
“That happened so fast, I didn’t realize the umpire had called him out at first,” Grimm said. “I was going over to cover the bag and Mitch took it on his own, so when Elvis threw the ball it started to come toward me. I didn’t think Mitch was going to be able to get to it and I just snagged it up real quick in hopes to save a run and keep the double play in order.”
Said Wedge when told after the 9-5 loss to Texas what actually transpired: “It would have been a much bigger argument if I had known that at the time.”