Tribe win streak ends, pending protest

Tribe win streak ends, pending protest

CLEVELAND -- The Indians figured they had seen it all this month.

The home opener snowstorm, the 33 inches of snow that followed, the home series in Milwaukee and the perpetually wacky contests have made for a crazy April.

And then came Saturday night and a retroactive scoring change that went against the Indians, causing manager Eric Wedge to file an official protest with the league.

It was the umpires awarding the Orioles a run three innings after a contested third-inning play that proved the overriding story in the Indians' 7-4 loss at Jacobs Field.

Just when things could not get any more bizarre, they did.

"I think it's far-fetched to think we could have a stranger month than this," Wedge said.

The loss snapped the Indians' six-game winning streak. Or did it? The Commissioner's Office will now have to make a ruling on the protest.

"Obviously there's going to be a tremendous follow-up on this," Wedge said afterward. "We're going to have to run this up the ladder and see where it takes us."

Ultimately, the game was decided in the top of the eighth inning when Aaron Fultz gave up a two-run, two-out double to Corey Patterson that put the Orioles ahead, 5-4.

But the night will be long remembered for its implausible midgame drama.

The trouble began in the top of the third inning with the Orioles ahead 2-1, one out and runners on first and third. Ramon Hernandez then drove a liner into center field that a diving Grady Sizemore snagged.

Figuring the ball was out of Sizemore's range, baserunners Nick Markakis and Miguel Tejada ran on contact. When Sizemore caught the ball, Markakis went back to third and tagged before again heading home. Tejada, who later admitted he forgot how many outs there were, had rounded second base and Sizemore ended the inning by throwing to first.

The issue was that the play wasn't a force situation, but rather a timing play. And though Markakis had clearly passed home plate by the time Sizemore's throw reached first base, plate umpire Marvin Hudson signaled to wave off Markakis' run.

Initially, there was little issue, as neither Markakis nor O's manager Sam Perlozzo argued the play.

It was not until after the third inning that Orioles coach Tom Trebelhorn brought the play to the attention of crew chief Ed Montague.

"Marvin then came out to me. We then kicked it around," Montague told a pool reporter. "I said, 'Go in and let's make it 100 percent sure.'"

Montague said he sent Miller into the umpire's room to read the rule book, though what he was looking at remained unclear.

From there, the crew had several discussions with the two dugouts in between innings. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Montague called the official scorer with the scoring change.

With the game tied at 2 at that time, Markakis' run was retroactively added and the Orioles went ahead 3-2. Wedge immediately filed the protest, arguing that since the Orioles did not raise an issue initially and Miller clearly waved the run off, adding a run later was illogical.

"The fact of the matter is that the plate umpire did wave the run off," Wedge said. "When it happened, and nothing was done prior to the next pitch being thrown, in my opinion, all bets are off."

Montague never gave a clear explanation as to how the runs could be added, but said the situation allowed for it.

"There's no time frame because it was an umpire's error, not a team error or a manager's error," Montague said. "It was my screw-up. You can't go by an umpire's error. What's right is right."

Of course, what was right to Montague was blatantly wrong to the Indians.

"I had no idea the rule existed," said starter Jeremy Sowers, who gave up three runs, two earned, over six innings. "That could have very well dictated the way the game was played."

Said Wedge: "I've never heard of [the rule]. That would be a first."

Thankfully for the umpires, there was little fan uproar. When the score was changed on the board, Jhonny Peralta almost immediately shot a two-run homer into the right-field stands to put the Indians back ahead, 4-3.

So in one half-inning, the Orioles both took and lost the lead, perhaps a first in either team's history.

"Every now and then, baseball will throw you a situation you just can't explain," Sowers said.

But then again, the Indians are used to strange happenings.

David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.