LOS ANGELES (AP) – The last person in the ballpark to realize that Yorvit Torrealba had been ejected by umpire Tim McClelland after a disputed play at the plate was Torrealba himself. He was in such a blind rage that he was completely oblivious.
The call was costly to the frustrated Texas Rangers, who lost 3-2 to the Angels on Saturday night, trimming their AL West lead over Los Angeles to 3 1/2 games. The game ended when Josh Hamilton struck out against Ernesto Frieri with the bases loaded.
The two-time defending AL champions have lost four straight for the first time since a five-game stretch last June, which was their longest skid of 2011. After the game, manager Ron Washington held a lengthy closed-door meeting with his players to air out his concerns.
“You’ll see tomorrow if I made a difference,” Washington said. “So much happened out there that was totally uncharacteristic of what we are, and it just opened up opportunities for the Angels to get some runs on the board. It was a very ugly performance. It was the defense that killed us out there tonight.”
Erick Aybar, robbed of a home run by center fielder Craig Gentry in the third, led off the Angels’ two-run seventh with a bunt single and stole second with one out. Elvis Andrus fielded Mike Trout’s grounder to shortstop with Aybar cutting in front of him and immediately started motioning to the umpires that the ball grazed Aybar — instead of making the throw to first.
The speedy Trout was credited with a hit, and Washington came out for a brief discussion with second base ump Ted Barrett and third base partner Marvin Hudson before play resumed. Alberto Callaspo then lined a single to right over a drawn-in infield to regain the lead for the Angels.
“Elvis wouldn’t have done that if he wasn’t sure of what he saw, but you have to complete the play — and then go back and argue because you don’t know what the umpire is going to call,” Washington said. “He would have got Trout at first base.”
Yu Darvish (7-3) walked Albert Pujols, and Kendrys Morales followed with a sacrifice fly against Koji Uehara. Right fielder Nelson Cruz’s throw home was on target, and Torrealba tagged Trout as he slid in. But McClelland called Trout safe, and Torrealba was tossed after throwing a tantrum.
“I thought he was definitely out. I thought the throw beat him and I know I tagged him,” Torrealba said. “I was trying to block the plate, but I don’t think he was in the right position to tell if he was out or safe. Obviously it happened so fast. I’m an emotional player, and I went off.”
Washington joined the argument, and Torrealba resumed his position behind the plate — not realizing that he was gone. Once he finally got the message, he threw another tantrum before heading to the dugout.
“I didn’t really say anything bad, but I got tossed because I threw my mask down. That’s what he said,” Torrealba explained. “I was frustrated because he missed the call. I went back behind the plate because I knew I didn’t say anything bad to him. I was like: `No way! No way! You missed the call!’ I didn’t know I was ejected until I threw the ball to Elvis and (McClelland) said: `You’ve got to go.’ Then Ron told me: `Yeah, you have to go.”‘
Darvish was charged with three runs — two earned — and five hits over 6 1-3 innings. He struck out seven, walked three and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.
“He really did a good job of controlling the count. He wasn’t overthrowing, he was in total control and he made pitches when he had to,” Washington said. “When the game looked like it was going to get very tough, he got tougher. He did a heck of a job out there tonight. I just wish we could have supported him on the defensive end.”
Angels starter C.J. Wilson threw 104 pitches over six scoreless innings, allowing five hits and striking out five — including Adrian Beltre his first three times up. The left-hander, who signed a five-year, $77.5 million contract with the Angels in December after leaving the Rangers, has allowed one run in 20 innings over his last three starts.
Bobby Cassevah (1-0) got two outs for the victory, the Angels’ 10th in 11 games. Frieri, the fifth Angels pitcher, worked 1 1-3 innings for his fourth save in four chances after the Rangers scored an unearned run in the eighth against Scott Downs.
Frieri threw 32 pitches, including an 11-pitch walk to Ian Kinsler that helped keep the inning alive for Hamilton.
“That was awesome. I can’t believe that I struck him out,” Frieri said. “He’s a good fastball hitter, but I made a really good pitch to him, a fastball up in the zone. I wasn’t trying to strike him out — just get out of that tough inning. They have so many good hitters in that lineup. That was an amazing at-bat by Kinsler.”
After grounding into three double plays for the first time this season during Friday night’s 4-2 loss, the Rangers matched that total in the first three innings. The Angels executed another double play in the fourth when Cruz struck out and catcher Bobby Wilson threw out Michael Young trying to steal second.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)