"Obviously, that's a big run -- you're either one run up or tied," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "The main thing was they got it right. We finished the game and scored some more runs. It's kind of like a moot point now, I think."
The game got weird in the third inning, with Baltimore clinging to a 2-1 lead. The Orioles (12-12) had pushed runners to the corners with one out, and Ramon Hernandez lifted a fly ball to center field that Grady Sizemore dove for and caught. Miguel Tejada had rounded second and was easily doubled off first base. Nick Markakis tagged up at third and crossed home plate before the out was recorded, but the home-plate umpire waved off the run.
The play sparked a few on-field conversations, but the umpires held to their ruling for three innings. They didn't officially change their minds until the sixth inning, after Cleveland (13-8) had tied the game. Crew chief Ed Montague called the press box and told the official scorer to add a run to Baltimore's score, and Wedge immediately put the game under protest.
"Well, they said the run should have been on the scoreboard all along," said Wedge, explaining his perspective. "But the fact of the matter is the plate umpire did wave the run off. And it happened. When that happened and nothing was done prior to the next pitch being thrown, in my opinion, all bets are off."
"There's no time frame because it was an umpire's error -- not a team error or a manager's error," Montague said to a pool reporter, explaining how the run could be added later in the game. "It was my screw-up. We can't go off an umpire's error. What's right is right [and] we have to score the run."
Baseball's official rulebook clarified the play under Rule 2.0, the definition of terms. There, under the listing for force play, lies the following example.
"One out. Runner on first and third. Batter flies out. Two out. Runner on third tags up and scores. Runner on first tries to retouch before throw from fielder reaches first baseman, but does not get back in time and is out. Three outs. If, in umpire's judgment, the runner from third touched home before the ball was held at first base, the run counts."
Rule 4.9, which deals with how teams score, uses a similar scenario.
"Approved Ruling: One out, Jones on third, Smith on first and Brown flies out to right field. Two outs. Jones tags up and scores after the catch. Smith attempted to return to first but the right fielder's throw beat him to the base. Three outs. But Jones scored before the throw to catch Smith reached first base, hence Jones' run counts. It was not a force play."
Baltimore never would've known the correct ruling without direct input from bench coach Tom Trebelhorn, who kept the debate alive in the dugout between innings. He said he had seen a similar play years ago in Yankee Stadium, and he broached the topic with the umpires in the fourth inning. Trebelhorn was rebuffed at first, but he kept at it.
"What we should've done is gone right out, right away," Trebelhorn said. "It would've solved a lot of problems and gotten things squared away right away. But the more I thought about it, the more I said, 'Son of a gun, that's an appeal play, that's not a double play.' Markakis was well across home plate before they made the appeal at first base to retire Tejada. By rule, the run counts in black and white."
Perlozzo also went out between innings, armed with Trebelhorn's knowledge, and the umpires worked to get it right.
"It was a big hit for us. It was a tremendous at-bat for him. The guys battled all night again tonight and didn't give up. It looks like a few things went our way, finally."
-- Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo, on Patterson's go-ahead double
"After the inning had passed, Tom Trebelhorn came out and questioned," said Montague, explaining the process. "That's when [fellow umpire] Marvin Hudson came out to me. Then, we threw it around. ... Now, I'm having a brain cramp on it, [so] I sent [umpire] Bill Miller in. We were debating. I said, 'Go in, let's make it 100 percent sure.'
"When Sam came out, I had already sent Bill in. ... I told him, 'We are going to confer on that rule, and if it is right, we're going to give you the run.' I told him, 'I think you have a valid point there but I am going to wait until we are 100 percent on it.' "
In the aftermath, the play was ruled both a sacrifice fly and a double play. Tejada admitted that he thought the ball dropped in and forgot how many outs there were, which explained why Cleveland was able to easily double him up.
"After I get doubled off, I felt bad. But after I [saw] the run [counted], I [felt] much better," he said. "I forgot how many outs there were, and when [the outfielder] came around, I thought he dropped it. I just [thought] of [trying to score]. I was flying."
Strangely enough, Baltimore's 3-2 lead evaporated moments after it went up on the board. Cleveland's Victor Martinez doubled to start the sixth, and two strikeouts later, shortstop Jhonny Peralta homered over the right-field fence. That made it a 4-3 game, and the Indians held the advantage until the eighth inning.
The Orioles struck back on a two-run double by center fielder Corey Patterson, and Hernandez added a two-run double in the ninth to account for the final margin. The end result -- which may eventually be reversed pending Wedge's appeal -- broke a five-game losing streak for Baltimore and a six-game win streak for Cleveland.
"It was a big hit for us," Perlozzo said of Patterson's game-changing double. "It was a tremendous at-bat for him. The guys battled all night again tonight and didn't give up. It looks like a few things went our way, finally."