Brian Fuentes: The umpires are scared to make calls in Fenway Park

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Mike Scioscia’s little quip was couched in enough respectful language and humor that he can probably avoid a fine for badmouthing the umps.  Brian Fuentes, however? Not so much:

“Especially here and some other places, they seem timid to make calls. I’ve heard it from other guys that come in here and say that. That’s either because it’s a mistake, or they’re scared.”

I think it’s reasonable to assume that, on occasion, the umpires get caught up in the moment.  They’re human, and it’s understandable that thousands of screaming fans can disrupt one’s judgment on occasion.  I don’t think it’s a situation where the umpires consciously alter their approach for fear of a hostile crowd.  It’s just an environmental thing. I bet they make bad calls when it’s too hot or too cold or the they’re tired or whatever, just like you or I do whenever we’re trying to exercise judgment in sub-optimal conditions.

I don’t buy the “timid” charge, however. If anything, we have crop of umpires these days that err on the side of belligerence as opposed to timidity. There are a lot of guys who want to make themselves part of the game.  A lot of guys who stubbornly adhere to their interpretation of the rules instead of the rules themselves.  If anything, I could see an ump going out of his way to piss off a home crowd before I could see him caving to one.

Of course, you and I can talk about that kind of thing all day if we want.  Brian Fuentes can’t, however, so Fuentes, can probably expect a call from Mr. Watson today.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.