SEATTLE (AP) — Umpire Jeff Nelson expressed regret on Saturday for making an incorrect call a night earlier, saying it was a play he'd never seen in 25 years.
"That play, your focus goes to the bag, and you watch the foot touch the bag and listen for the ball hitting the mitt. In this case, I ruled the ball was caught by the first baseman, and the ball was actually caught by the pitcher," Nelson told a pool reporter before Saturday's game between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. "The pitcher kind of came out of nowhere on that play. I didn't pick that up. Obviously, looking at the replays, I wish I had."
The play was another in a series of missed calls made by umpires this season that has helped increase the call for expanded replay in baseball.
This one came in the second inning of Texas' win Friday night and stymied a possible rally by the Mariners.
Jesus Sucre hit a grounder to Mitch Moreland at first, who threw down to second to get the lead runner. The relay from Elvis Andrus back to first was in time to get Sucre but the throw was caught by pitcher Justin Grimm running to cover and not Moreland, whose foot was on the bag. Nelson missed that it was Grimm who caught the throw and called Sucre out.
"Personally, I thought Moreland caught it. I didn't even know. I heard a couple innings later about what happened. It fooled me, too," said Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan, who was in the on-deck circle when the play happened. "That's maybe one of those things that maybe someone is upstairs and they pick up the phone and appeal it really quick. I'm definitely not in favor of making these games 5 ½ hours long. If I saw it that way, how could he not see it the same way? It looked very casual."
Nelson said his focus was on Moreland's foot and he never saw Grimm grab the throw. He wasn't the only one. Seattle manager Eric Wedge went out to argue that Moreland's foot had come off the bag, unaware that it was Grimm who caught the throw. Most of Seattle's dugout had the same reaction and only later found out about Grimm's grab.