MINNEAPOLIS -- A potential game-winning rally by the Rangers came to a sudden and screeching halt on Sunday on a bizarre play rarely seen in a Major League game. Coach's interference. The Rangers, trailing the Twins by four runs in the ninth inning, rallied for three runs but missed a chance to have Nelson Cruz bat with the bases loaded when Michael Young was called out at third base.
The game ended with third-base umpire Alfonso Marquez ruling that third-base coach Dave Anderson had interfered with Young as he rounded the base on an infield single by Vladimir Guerrero. Young, who was diving back to the base, was the potential tying run in the Rangers' 6-5 loss. "Bad call," Young said. "Bad call by a good umpire. It's a shame the game ended like that. We would have all loved to seen Cruzie bat with the bases loaded. It's a shame the game ended like that. I don't think I touched Dave. I don't think I was anywhere near Dave." Guerrero, batting with the bases loaded and two outs against Twins reliever Matt Capps, bounced a grounder up the middle that second baseman Orlando Hudson fielded well behind the bag, with no play on Guerrero at first base. Cristian Guzman scored from third. Young rounded third hard. Anderson was in front of him with one arm high as the "stop" sign and the other pointed at third base. He was frantically telling Young to get back to the base, because Hudson had thrown to third. Young dived back to third safely, but Marquez stepped in and said that Anderson had touched Young. That constituted coach's interference, and Young was called out to end the game. "He said that Dave reached out and touched him," manager Ron Washington said. "All you have to do is look at the replay. You certainly shouldn't have a game end like that as long as we were out there and as hard as we fought to get back. To let that happen ... "If he calls him out at third base, OK. But to use that as an excuse ... " The rule, 7:09 (h) of the Official Rules, states that the runner is out if: "In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third or first base." First-base umpire Tim Tschida, as the crew chief, spoke on behalf of Marquez. "The ruling on the play is that a base coach either touching, physically assisting in any way, with the baserunner is not allowed and the runner is called out," Tschida said. "If it's touching him, they can't make contact. In 30 years of doing this, it's the second time I've ever seen it." General manager Jon Daniels called Major League Baseball about the play. He doesn't expect a change, but he at least wants an explanation of the rule and whether it was interpreted correctly. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was a longtime third-base coach, said that the rule was interpreted correctly. "They made contact at third base," Gardenhire said. "That's automatic. The umpire has to make a call. If there is contact, he's got to make a call. That's what he did. And they made contact. Unfortunate, yes. It probably didn't help him stop or get back, but contact is contact. And that's what Alfonso called." Anderson understands that he can't touch the runner in any way, and he insisted that he did not touch Young. "I don't think I touched him," Anderson said. "I think Michael and I would have felt something if we touched. My responsibility in that situation is, if the ball tips off the glove or something [to] make sure the runs scored. If that ball gets through, Michael has to score. Everybody has seen that play. The first time I saw it was in the Minor Leagues." The loss was the Rangers' third straight to the Twins, and they are now 0-6 against them this season at Target Field. The Rangers have also lost seven of their last 10 as well as 11 of their last 15 games on the road. They still have an eight-game lead in the American League West with just 26 games left to play. "We lost three games," Young said. "We were a little flat today. We finally played our kind of ball at the end and had a little energy at the end. Hopefully we can take that into the next game." The loss snapped pitcher C.J. Wilson's seven-game winning streak, as he allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings. He gave up seven hits -- including a two-run double by Michael Cuddyer in the first -- walked four and struck out five. "The ball just wasn't going where I wanted it today," Wilson said. "Over the course of the year, you have a bad game, and today was a bad game. I gave them three runs. If I didn't do that, we win the game based on the way it was finishing up." But the Rangers didn't win. "I feel like we had a game taken away from us," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "I don't know if we would have gotten them, but I felt like the game was taken away from us. Whether Cruz would have popped out, struck out, doubled or tripled, it would have been nice to give him the opportunity and see what would have happened."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.