CLEVELAND -- The Indians lost the argument and eventually the game. A controversial call in the seventh inning of Saturday's 7-4 defeat against the Blue Jays proved to be a turning point that does not show up within the box score.
With a runner on first base in the seventh, Cleveland designated hitter Travis Hafner sent a pitch from Toronto right-hander Brandon Morrow slicing down the left-field line. The baseball appeared to bounce off the chalk line, but third-base umpire Tim Welke ruled the ball foul. Hafner went on to strike out and the Tribe dropped the game in 12 innings.
"It was a fair ball," Indians third-base coach Steve Smith said. "That changed the game. Instead of having runners on second and third base with no outs, we went back to a runner on first with one out. That was a fair ball."
Smith argued the call with Welke behind third base, pointing to where the baseball appeared to strike the line. Indians manager Manny Acta also headed out of the dugout to discuss the play, but the umpires were not about to overturn the decision.
Acta said his point was that the baseball, coming off a left-handed hitter's bat, must have sliced around the base in fair ground before hitting the ground. That was not the way Welke saw things.
"There was a mark there where the ball hit," Acta said. "It looked like it was right off the right side of the line. Our argument wasn't so much where the ball landed, but we felt that it was almost impossible for the ball to land there and not go over the bag. Tim just told us that the ball was pretty straight coming off of Hafner's bat."
Hafner disagreed with that ruling.
"I thought it was over the base," Hafner said. "But I didn't look at the replay during the game, because I was too mad. I thought it hooked around the base fair."