UPDATE (Friday at 12:15pm) -- The A's announced they have dropped their protest of Thursday's loss to the Angels.
[NEWS: A's drop protest]
ANAHEIM -- The A’s lost a game on the scoreboard Thursday, but they adamantly felt there’s another battle they should win.
Oakland played its 4-3 loss to the Angels under protest when manager Bob Melvin argued that Los Angeles’ Erick Aybar was incorrectly awarded first base on an obstruction call against A’s first baseman Brandon Moss leading off the bottom of the ninth.
The A’s wound up escaping a bases-loaded jam that inning -- ultimately losing the game in the 10th on Howie Kendrick’s sacrifice fly -- but the fact that Melvin feels that an incorrect ruling was made, and that the disputed call affected the way the A’s played the rest of that inning, will be at the heart of their argument.
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's claw back, Angels walk off]
Protests rarely are upheld by the commissioner’s office, although the Giants were successful just a week ago in filing a protest regarding a rain delay in Chicago. Should the A’s win the protest, the game will be continued at a later date from the point of that disputed call in the ninth.
“Hopefully it’s upheld,” Melvin said after the game.
Aybar hit a high chopper along the first base line. Pitcher Dan Otero and Moss converged on the ball, with Otero fielding it and tagging Aybar in a big collision halfway down the line.
Home plate umpire Greg Gibson immediately ruled obstruction on Moss and awarded Aybar first base, saying that Moss was blocking Aybar’s path to first. But replays appear to indicate that Otero and Moss were both inside the base line at the time the contact happened, and Aybar appears to veer inside the baseline and toward Otero.
The umpires said “he has to have a clear lane to the base,” Melvin said. “Well, one, (Aybar) is way out of the base line. Two, he went to try to make contact with the fielder.”
Moss was still in disbelief addressing reporters after the game.
“I know that Aybar veered inside the line. There’s video to prove it,” Moss said. “He’s trying to do what he can do to get on base and get a hit, and he got that call, but the call is incorrect … It’s a disappointing call, but that happens. I didn’t really know what to say, because I don’t know how that rule is interpreted, but I know neither one of us were in his baseline.
"I know that.”
Aybar had a different version of events.
“I was running, and both guys just got in my way,” he was quoted by MLB.com. “I'm running and when I pick my head up, I see the pitcher and first baseman together. I want to move, and they're on top of me. I kept running.”
Even if the A’s are right in that the call was incorrect, they would seem to face long odds in having their protest upheld. Umpire crew chief Gerry Davis told a pool reporter after the game that Gibson made a judgment call, and Rule 4.19 states that no protest shall be permitted regarding an umpire’s judgment call. The rule also says that the protested call must have “adversely affected the protesting team’s chances of winning the game.”
That might be tough to prove given that the A’s escaped the ninth unscored upon, losing the game the following inning. But Moss and others in the A’s clubhouse disagreed with that.
“With one out and nobody on, it changes the dynamic of the way the game is played from that point on,” Moss said. “It changes a lot of things. We don’t use (reliever Fernando) Abad maybe. We might not bring in (Ryan Cook). We might just stick with Otero. You don’t know, and all that is based on the leadoff hitter getting on.”
Melvin was unsure of when a decision on the protest will come, but here’s what we know: The A’s lost a heartbreaker in the opener of this four-game showdown against the first-place Angels. Oakland trails Los Angeles by two games, and despite however strongly they might feel about what happened in Thursday’s ninth inning, what’s important now is what happens in this series moving forward.