In a tight ballgame against one of the league's best pitchers on a night they really needed a win, the Red Sox had their best hitter taken away from them due to a horrible misjudgment by a replacement umpire.
Dan Bellino, who was working home plate for Wednesday night's game between the Sox and Seattle, tossed Boston third baseman Adrian Beltre before the third inning began, even though all Beltre had been doing was playfully jawing with Mariners ace and good friend Felix Hernandez, a former teammate.
"I wasn't even looking at him," Beltre said of Bellino. "Me and Felix had been texting back and forth the last couple of days, talking smack. He's like my little brother. He told me he was going to strike me out. I told him I was going to take him deep, so he struck me out, and after I went back to my position, he was calling me and I looked at him and he said, 'That's one,' because he said he was going to strike me out three times.
"I was like, OK, next time I'm gonna take you deep. …Then I saw the umpire."
Realizing he had been ejected, Beltre sprinted in from his position and charged at Bellino before being intercepted by second base umpire Angel Hernandez, who pushed Beltre away, much to the third baseman's chagrin.
"Yeah, yeah, I did," Beltre said, when asked if he had a problem with Hernandez putting his hands on him. "I told him to take them off."
Still, the interception prevented Beltre from ever getting any kind of explanation from Bellino. Red Sox manager Terry Francona tried his best, to no avail.
"I figure if a guy is old enough to throw you out, he's old enough to get yelled at," Francona said. "I just wanted an explanation. I couldn't get around Angel to get an explanation. If a guy's gonna throw you out, he needs to be able to tell you what happened. I was having a hard time getting that accomplished."
Francona also was ejected, leaving the Red Sox even more shorthanded on a night when Hernandez was on his game and the club already had to bump All-Star lefty Jon Lester to Friday night in order to account for a back injury to Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The Mariners' ace allowed one earned run in 7 1/3 innings before retreating to the Seattle clubhouse and continuing to pepper his good buddy.
"He's talking smack right now," Beltre said after the game while showing a text message from Hernandez.
While the playfulness with Hernandez was enough to bring a slight smile to Beltre's face, he was clearly peeved at Bellino's call.
"I don't even know who he is, then I find out he was a rookie from Triple-A, and he makes a decision like that," Beltre said. "Why is a rookie from Triple-A behind home plate?"
In fact, minor league umps fill in from time to time. That's nothing new. But to see one make such a woeful mistake in a game that could have major implications for Boston's postseason chances was stunning to the Red Sox.
"He wasn't even talking to the ump," Boston designated hitter David Ortiz said. "That was crazy."
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