In the third inning of Tuesday’s Royals-Indians game, Salvador Perez was up to bat with Whit Merrifield on third and Andrew Benintendi on second. Salvy hit a fly ball to the warning track in right-center field. As two Indians outfielders moved in on the ball, it glanced off centerfielder Harold Ramirez’s glove, but first-base umpire and crew chief Angel Hernandez signaled Perez out.
Merrifield was tagging up anyway and scored easily, but Benintendi took off for third before hearing his base coach yelling to go back and tag up at second base. That led to confusion and Benintendi was caught in-between bases. The umpires huddled and changed the call to a single for Salvy, a run scored and Benintendi was awarded third base.
After the game, the umpire Hernandez admitted he guessed on the call because he lost it in the LED scoreboard embedded on the wall. Below is the transcript between the pool reporter and Hernandez.
Walk us through your recollection of that entire play.
“Our goal was to get the play right, and that’s exactly what we did. We talk about this. Replay is an extension of what we do out there. As you saw, I got basically blinded by the outfield scoreboard. The pixels on the lights were as clear as white can be. I was trying to make out what happened out there. The harder I looked, the less I could see. So I was trying to read the players to see what they did with the ball. And I had to come out with the call. I basically guessed on the wrong call. So as soon as I turned around, (home plate umpire) Edwin (Moscoso) started walking towards me. We got the crew together. And we fixed the problem.”
So, you signaled for an out call as if the outfielder had caught the ball?
Can you walk us through the responsibility of an umpire in your spot on that play just broadly?
“Exactly what I did is my responsibility as the interim crew chief here. We’ve talked about this, and it played out exactly how we rehearsed it when I joined this crew the other day.”
When you guys conferred, how easy of a decision was it to allow Benintendi to go to third base and Salvy to stay at first?
“On what the guys had, Benintendi was in between second and third. He didn’t know whether to go back to tag up because, from what I heard from all the players, they also lost the ball in the same background I had. They were all confused as well as (Rusty Kuntz), the first base coach for the Royals. So everybody basically saw what happened. And the Indians could have gone ahead and gone with the challenge. But their replay coordinator must have agreed with exactly what we do.”
Can you walk me through the decision of the aftermath between the umpires.
“He responded to my out call. That’s what got him hung up. When we got together, that’s what we pieced together. He was between second and third. That’s why we decided to put him at third base. He wasn’t going to advance any further than third base. And the batter runner, of course, we decided as a crew, that he was going to go no further than first base. And obviously, we scored the run.”
What was the conversation like with Terry Francona afterward?
“I basically told him the same thing I told you.”
The Royals lost the game 7-3.