Kansas City, Mo. Scott Podsednik snapped a long power drought with a big home run. Anthony Lerew overcame early nerves for a solid return to the majors. Houston couldn’t get anything going after getting off to a great start.
So many story lines, all of them overshadowed by a bizarre reversed call by the umpires that had the feel of a playground do-over but little effect on the outcome.
Podsednik hit a three-run homer, Lerew pitched six effective innings, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Astros, 5-2, Thursday night in a game that featured a play no one on either side could remember seeing before.
“I don’t think anyone’s seen a play like that,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
It happened in the fifth inning.
With Mike Aviles on second and one out, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a soft liner that shortstop Geoff Blum appeared to trap. Second-base umpire Mike Everitt missed the call, ruling the ball had been caught in the air, and Blum stepped on second to double off Aviles for what appeared to be the final out.
Not so fast.
Yost came trotting out of the dugout to argue, but the umpires were already gathering before he got there. After deliberating for several minutes, they overturned the call and brought both teams back out to the field. Aviles was placed on third, and Betancourt was ruled out even though Blum never threw to first, the umpires ruling that it was assumed Betancourt would have been thrown out.
“Geoff was charging the ball, and we didn’t have a good angle to see it,” crew chief Tim McClelland said. “The only fair thing for us to do was rule it no catch, retire Betancourt and give Aviles third base. You can’t assume an out at third base.”
Blum was awarded an assist, and first baseman Lance Berkman got a putout despite never touching the ball because he was closest to Betancourt when the play was made, similar to the rule regarding interference.
After a second round of arguing by Astros manager Brad Mills, the drama ended quickly: Brett Myers got Podsednik to line out on the next pitch, ending the inning.
The debate, though, will continue.
“To reverse a call like that opens up a huge can of worms,” Mills said.
The Royals did all their damage after the chaos.
Kansas City scored four runs in the seventh inning off Myers (4-5), three on Podsednik’s first homer in 144 at-bats and another on Betancourt’s run-scoring single.