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August 20, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Official scorer holds firm on single that could have cost Felix a no-hitter

Bill Mathews, the official scorer at Tropicana Field, could have become a household name on Friday. With one out the eighth inning, his decision to rule a single for B.J. Upton in the fifth inning — a play that could easily have been ruled an error on Mariner third baseman Adam Kennedy — stood as the only hit allowed by Felix Hernandez.
If Hernandez had finished the game without allowing another hit, the controversy over that call, depriving Hernandez of a no-hitter, would have been heated. But Sam Fuld lined a clean single in the eighth, and Hernandez gave up four more hits in the inning as the Rays rallied for a 3-2 victory.
Mathews, a veteran scorer who is the baseball coach at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, said Saturday he never considered changing the base-hit call.


“I really didn’t,” he said. “I thought the ball was hit extremely hard. There was a little drop step by Kennedy and the ball was by him. Sure, you’d love for the ball to have a little more distance from his body. There was no contact. It was a tough call. Someone’s got to make the call, and that’s why I sit here. It’s no fun sitting there and waiting for that hit to come. I thought about it. I re-lived that play. I’m a college coach. I re-lived that play over and over and over. I feel good with the decision.”
And when Fuld got his hit, yes, there was a sigh of relief.
“I’m human,” Mathews said. “I’m human. Yeah.”
Mathews actually did make a scoring change on Saturday involving Kennedy, but it was a different play. He gave Casey Kotchman a hit and took away an error from Kennedy in the seventh inning on a ball on which Kennedy had ranged far to his left, but bobbled and couldn’t make a throw.
“All night, that was the one that bothered me, not the first one,” Mathews said. “Seven steps on the ground, spin. I’m punishing Kennedy (by charging him an error).”
Rays manager Joe Maddon had said on Friday he thought Upton’s ball should have been an error, and reiterated that opinion on Saturday.
“That would have been controversial,” Maddon said. “Until we got the second hit I was thinking, man, this could get weird. It was hit pretty good, but it was like a step to his left. It wasn’t outrageous.”
If that had stood as the only hit, the Mariners could have, and no doubt would have, requested the play to be reviewed.
“Understand, I’m not in this for controversy at all,” Mathews said. “I’m in this to get it right. So anyone who wants to turn a play in for review, I have no problem with that. You have to understand — this is the loneliest seat in the ballpark some nights. I sat here for five innings last night…it’s not comfortable, but someone has to do it.”
A couple of other notes — Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Casper Wells, out of Saturday’s lineup, had no health issues on Friday related to being hit on the nose by Brandon Morrow.
“He’s fine. I just wanted to get (Wily Mo) Pena in there.”
Brendan Ryan was activated from the disabled list (shoulder sprain) on Friday but still isn’t quite ready to play.
“We’re going to wait another day,” Wedge said. “We’ll see how he feels after going through everything (in batting practice). He’ll do a little more today, prep-wise. In the next day or two, we should be able to get him back in there.”

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan

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