OAKLAND, Calif. - Ron Gardenhire has what he considers the perfect plan for reviewing close calls in baseball: red flags that managers throw like in the NFL.
Minnesota’s manager certainly would have tossed one Monday night, when Michael Cuddyer was called out on a close play at the plate in the ninth inning for what would have been the tying run in a crazy 14-13 loss in which the Oakland Athletics rallied from a 12-2 deficit.
Cuddyer appeared safe on replay — and he and Gardenhire both argued emphatically.
“I’ve said it all along, I want a red flag,” Gardenhire said Tuesday. “If you use it and you’re wrong, you don’t get the red flag the rest of the game. But if you use it and you’re right, you get your red flag back. ... Last night would have been a great red flag game. I could have thrown it out there and then they could have run and checked the replay. It would have been perfect.
“Football has a red flag. Why can’t we? Keep it in my sock like they do.”
Oakland reliever Michael Wuertz was covering home following his wild pitch and tried to tag Cuddyer after catcher Kurt Suzuki’s short throw.
Gardenhire joked that one challenge per inning would be ideal — even though he’s been reminded on several occasions in the past about pace of game rules. Once, he actually sent first-base coach Jerry White out for the lineup exchange with a red sanitary sock meant to look like a red flag to show the crew. The amused umpire looked at Gardenhire, who had been tossed the previous day, and shook a finger of disapproval.
Gardenhire has no objections to umpires using soccer’s method of yellow and red cards to warn and calm angry managers, either. That could be another way to save the skipper fine money for ejections, Gardenhire said.
Not that any words to home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski could have changed Monday night’s outcome.
“It’s not a reversible call. That’s his opinion, a judgment call,” Gardenhire said. “I saw it first hand. I was right there, right behind him. Old news now. Can’t bring it back. Go out and play tonight.”
The game featured two grand slams and eight total home runs and 39 hits and was the largest comeback in Oakland history. It matched Minnesota’s worst collapse.
“It’s one of those games you look back and say, ’Wow, that was amazing,”’ said Gardenhire, who wasn’t worried about his veteran club moving forward.
“They were fine. We scored a lot of runs, we just didn’t pitch,” the skipper said. “Gave up 22 hits. The ball was flying all over the place. If you look at the games between our two clubs, nothing’s ever easy because we battle each other. We always have, always will.”
Wuertz, meanwhile, was fielding numerous phone calls and text messages from his family back in his native Minnesota. They had their own opinions on the play — most said Cuddyer was safe.
His brothers, Scott and Tom, were letting him have it.
“They let me know what they thought,” he said. “I said, ’It doesn’t matter what you think.’ Everybody, I think they’re still Twins fans, but they’re my fans as well.”
Wuertz pitched in place of All-Star A’s closer Andrew Bailey, who received an injection in his troublesome left knee earlier Monday and wasn’t available. Bailey, who was expected to be fine to pitch Tuesday night, told Wuertz minutes before first pitch that he couldn’t go.
“I just figured I’d be ready anywhere from the fourth to the ninth innings,” Wuertz said.
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