A day after “guessing” his call on a fly ball, MLB umpire Angel Hernandez was again in the spotlight for the wrong reasons as he ejected Kansas City manager Mike Matheny, pitching coach Cal Eldred, and starting pitcher Brady Singer during the Royals’ 5-4 home loss against the Cleveland Indians.
Up 4-0 in the top of the sixth inning, the Royals appeared to be cruising to a comfortable win when Singer threw a sinker inside to Cleveland batter Jose Ramirez with one out and a base runner on first.
Hernandez ruled the ball hit Ramirez’s hand, but the Royals challenged the call with Singer adamant the ball had in fact hit the bat.
Replays showed the pitch appeared to have brushed the bat and ricocheted into the mitt of Royals’ catcher Salvador Perez for what would have been a third strike.
The ruling, however, was upheld and to compound matters Ramirez scored when Singer gave up a double in the next at-bat. Two batters latter, Cleveland had runners on first and second base when Hernandez called Singer for a balk, enraging the Royals’ coaching staff.
Eldred and Matheny both made their feelings clear to Hernandez and were both ejected. Singer followed shortly afterward when, walking off the field after being replaced by a reliever, he launched into a tirade against Hernandez.
To add insult to injury, the Indians came back to win the game 5-4.
“You hate when things change the course of a close game,” Matheny said after the game.
“Our emotions are already high when we’ve got a four-run lead, and all of a sudden you start to see little things happen.”
Singer struck a similar tone, lamenting “other factors” that swung the game.
“I’m out there fighting for the team. It’s a big game. We’re trying to get back in the series. And you’ve got that stuff going on. I’m fighting for the guys. I’m trying to get the win,” he added.
“You’ve got other factors into the game. It sucks. I’m busting like hell to try to win the game and stuff like that happens. Kinda how it is. I guess.”
The drama came a day after Hernandez again found himself at the center of controversy in the first game of the Kansas City vs Cleveland double-header. With the Royals 1-0 up in the bottom of the third inning, Kansas City had runners on second and third and one out.
Perez drove Sam Hentges’ pitch high into the air toward right-center field and as Cleveland outfielders gave chase, the Royals runners looked to score. As the ball began its descent, it traveled past a white pixelated scoreboard, causing Hernandez to lose sight of it.
Uncertain whether a catch had been made or not, Hernandez simply guessed.
“I was trying to make out what happened out there. The harder I looked, the less I could see,” he told The Athletic.
“I was trying to read the players to see what they did with the ball. I had to come out with the call. I basically guessed on the wrong call.”
Cleveland manager Terry Francona was far from pleased with the decision, even though it benefited his team, which ended up winning the game 7-3.
“I just kind of told Angel [Hernandez], ‘Why’s it always happening when you’re here?’,” Francona told reporters on Tuesday night.
Hernandez is no stranger to controversial and downright bad calls. In 2018 former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said the umpire was “as bad as there is” and last month Hernandez called 20 pitches incorrectly as the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Angels 4-2.