“They were pretty explicit and clear, but there was one question that I had,” Kelleher said. “It was about the top rail in left-center field. It was padded, the ball had to leave the ballpark. We talked about that twice… There’s a fence that goes up that’s green, then above the green there’s a little cyclone fence. I said, ‘What’s that?’ They said, ‘It’s clear and open. Above that is a padded rail, so it has to clear the padded rail.’”
During tonight’s game, the Yankees were told the opposite is true, and that ruling by crew chief Dana DeMuth loomed large in a one-run loss.
When Billy Butler drove a ball to left-center in the third inning, the ball clearly went over the main fence, but it didn’t clear a smaller, chain-link fence. The ball bounced back onto the field, but was still ruled a home run. Girardi asked for a review, DeMuth watched the replay and said the ruling stood. Girardi went back for clarification of the rule — he’s not allowed to argue the call at that point — and was told the rule is that the ball has to clear only the first fence. Both DeMuth and home plate umpire Chad Fairchild said the same thing.
“If he’s right, he’s right, and we lost the game,” Girardi said. “If he’s wrong, it’s very unfortunate.”
DeMuth refused to speak to a pool reporter sent to get clarification after the game, but not too long ago — about an hour after the game — what appeared to be the entire umpire crew walked to left-center field to look at the fence.
“That’s not what they told me,” Kelleher said. “That’s not what we covered at home plate. The ball had to leave the ballpark. If it hits that top green thing, that’s not leaving the ballpark. That’s what they explained. There’s a little chain-link cyclone fence that’s maybe a foot or 18 inches, then on top of that is the padded bar. It’s supposed to go over the padded bar. If that wasn’t the case, there would be a yellow line indicating balls over the yellow line, home run. Bam. There you go.”
The yellow line argument might be the best of the night. If there’s an uncertain boundary, it would surely be marked by a yellow line. There’s no yellow line, so it stands to reason that the usual rule — the ball has to leave the field — would be in effect.
Here’s Girardi. He’s not happy.
• Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-2 with two walks, a strikeout and an RBI single tonight. He said afterward that he won’t be playing tomorrow, and he’s not sure about Friday. Girardi said that his pregame comments are still accurate: Rodriguez will be evaluated tomorrow before the Yankees decide whether to activate him immediately.
• Rodriguez let a ball get through his legs in the first inning, and another ball got past him without being ruled an error. “I really thought I played great defense when the ball wasn’t hit at me,” Rodriguez said.
• A general comment from Rodriguez about how he’s moving: “These were the hardest balls hit at me in five weeks. It’s just a bit of rust. But I really liked my gait tonight, first to third. And I felt like I was running with more aggression, more confidence.”
• A quick word of thanks to Donnie Collins for sending me some of Rodriguez’s postgame comments.
• Back to tonight’s game in Kansas City: Girardi said he was second guessing himself for not protesting the game, but it was too late to file a protest postgame, and in the heat of the moment, he chose to trust that the umpires knew what they were talking about. “They’re in these parks a lot more than we are and I figured he knew the rules,” Girardi said.
• One other factor in play: Girardi was worried that Mariano Rivera, who was clearly heated in the Yankees dugout, might get tossed if the argument continued any longer. “I was trying to keep some of my players in the game, too,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said he’ll get a rule clarification tomorrow. “You call the Major League office and they’ll know,” Girardi said.
• The home run call looms large, but ultimately the Yankees had their chances to score plenty of runs. They left the bases loaded in the first and last innings, and the heart of the order — Teixeira, Cano and Swisher — struck out to strand two runners in the seventh. “We just weren’t able to get that one big hit tonight to take the lead,” Girardi said. “We had plenty of opportunities.”
• The two home runs in the third inning really cost Bartolo Colon. “I feel good physically,” Colon said. “But I gave up two home runs, and we didn’t win the game.”
• Curtis Granderson hit his team-leading 34th homer of the season, and he’s homered six times in eight games. He’s closing in on Jose Bautista for the Major League lead.
• Jorge Posada turned 40 today. The last Yankees player that was not a pitcher to appear in a game at 40 or older was Lou Piniella in 1984.
• Let’s give the last word on the disputed home run to Gardner, who had a good view of exactly where the ball landed. “I saw it hit the top of the lower pad, go up in the air, and then come back down on the warning track,” Gardner said. “There’s about 8-10 inches of chain-link fence on top of that, then another little pad on top of that. I looked at the replay and sure enough, it did hit that chain-link fence. If that’s not part of the fence, it’s a home run, but then I don’t understand why that little piece of fence is there. It could probably lead to a lot of controversy over the years.”
Associated Press photos