Astros' game-ending DP overturned

Astros' game-ending DP overturned

HOUSTON -- Jason Michaels did his best to sell the play, holding up his glove to reveal the ball while running towards the infield and exchanging high-fives with teammate Michael Bourn.

The Astros were in the early stages of celebrating what they thought was a game-ending double play Wednesday night before the umpires met briefly and overturned the catch, ruling the ball hit the outfield wall first. Television replays supported the call, and Michaels never protested.

Given new life, the Royals responded by tying the game in the ninth inning on a single by David DeJesus and winning it, 4-3, on a solo homer by Miguel Olivo in the 11th.

"They were correct in their call," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "It looked like it was a catch when you initially looked at it."

Trailing, 2-1, in the ninth, Kansas City's Mitch Maier reached first base on a one-out error by first baseman Lance Berkman. Pinch-hitter Mike Jacobs followed with a towering fly ball that Michaels tracked into the corner created where the Crawford Boxes end abruptly.

Michaels caught the ball near the wall and threw to first base for an apparent game-ending double play after third-base umpire Mark Wegner, whose view was obstructed, ruled it a clean catch. But before the Astros could disappear to the dugout, the umpires converged and ruled the ball had kissed off the wall before landing in Michaels' glove.

"Afterwards, I was talking to the umpires and they said, 'Hey, did you catch that?' I go, 'I can't tell,'" Michaels said. "I thought I did. I was just talking to [teammates and said] that if the call was out, and I threw it in to first to try to double up, then why does that guy get to advance to third? I'm confused by the call, because the third-base umpire made the call and he can't see it."

Wegner explained.

"If he doesn't catch the ball, the runner can run and it's a live ball," the umpire said. "They have that area in the field from third base you can't see it, so he went back there. I was unsure and had to make a call. We got together and the other [umpires] saw it."

Maier was heading to third when Michaels caught the ball, and he was standing on the base as the Astros threw toward the infield. Maier was awarded third when the call was changed.

"The runners ran because they probably saw it hit the wall, too, so everybody is where they would have been, so that's why they ended up where they're at," Wegner said.

Maier, who wound up scoring the tying run, saw the ball glance off the wall.

"That's why I kept going," he said. "I was already going to second; if he caught it, I could easily get back. But as soon as I saw it ricochet, I kept going."

Unlike Michaels, who said immediately following the game he hadn't seen a replay, Jacobs took another look at the play on a monitor.

"I thought it was going to sneak right into that little porch," Jacobs said. "But obviously it didn't, but I could see running around the bag that it hit off the wall. I even came in here and looked at it [on tape]. It came down and skimmed off the side wall. He just jumped, his glove was open and it skimmed right off the wall and into his glove."

Michaels actually made a nice play to put himself in the proper position to catch the ball, which would have gone into the Crawford Boxes for a homer had it landed a few feet to the left.

"That's the whole thing with this field," Michaels said. "I know coming here as a visitor, that little corner back there is hard to play. Where do you play at? Luckily the ball was able to stay up a little longer [than normal] to be in position. I think that was a big part of the game."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for reporter Dick Kaegel contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.