Sep 16, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; Home plate umpire Jerry Meals (41) during the New York Yankees game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Tainted Meals: Yankees 5-4 loss to Orioles aided by blown call

If the New York Yankees’ season comes down to one game to reach the postseason, or to avoid having to play the wild card game, they’ll look back on last night’s game as one which could have ended differently. The American League East is once again dead even after first base umpire Jerry Meals blew a call at first base to end the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 win over the Yankees.

Jerry Meals, who seems to not only blow a call, but does so in grand fashion in close games, missed a big one last night at Camden Yards. Mark Teixeira, he of the still sore calf, grounded weakly to second base with runners at first and third with two outs and the Yankees down by a run. Teixeira moved as fast he could with the bum calf and dove toward first base in a head-first slide. The out was made at second and shortstop J.J. Hardy’s threw to first baseman Mark Reynolds on the relay. Meals called Teixeira out and emphatically so.

Mark Teixeira had plenty of issues with the umpires last night is here seen arguing a called third strike, but a play at first by Jerry Meals took the cake. (Image: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE)

Teixeira and first base coach Mick Kelleher argued, and they never do so without replay, so one had to guess it was close. Replays showed this wasn’t a bang-bang play; Teixeira was half way through the bag before the ball reached Reynolds’ glove. Meals missed a called at home plate last season in a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves which as Jack Curry of the YES Network said, “A five year-old could make that call.”

While all of this is indisputable, the Yankees still lost the game to the Orioles. The AL East is once again tied with both teams holding identical 78-61 records. Meals will still be on the field today and replay discussions will get another stoke to the fire. As usual the umpires are unaccountable. Mike Winters, the umpiring crew chief, told the New York Daily News that he was not prepared to comment in detail. “We saw a replay, and from where I’m sitting, it’s inconclusive,” Winters said. “It’s very close. That’s a very close play.” He must be sitting with his back to the screen.

The Yankees got into the position of having to comeback as CC Sabathia had less than stellar stuff allowing three home runs after the offense staked him to a 2-0 lead scoring once in the first and second innings. In the bottom of the second Sabathia allowed back-to-back homers to Reynolds (yes again) and Lew Ford. The Orioles took the lead in the third on a RBI-double by Hardy. Hardy hit a solo shot off Sabathia in sixth and Ford added a RBI-single in the same inning. Sabathia left the game in the seventh with one out.

In the top of the seventh with two outs the Yankees got one run back on Alex Rodriguez‘s 17th homer of the season. Robinson Cano followed with a walk and Russell Martin prolonged the inning with a single moving Cano to third. Curtis Granderson, who had come on earlier in the game as a pinch-hitter failed to deliver Cano as he popped up weakly to catcher Taylor Teagarden.

The Yankees rallied in the ninth off Orioles closer Jim Johnson with three straight singles by Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Chavez and Derek Jeter. Jeter’s was a beautiful drag bunt to load the bases with no one out. Nick Swisher continued to slump, by bouncing into a force out, which brought the Yankees to within one. Then the ridiculously awful call from Meals on Teixeira’s grounder ended the game.

In this afternoon’s series finale, the Yankees send Freddy Garcia (7-6, 5.09 ERA) to the mound to face Zach Britton (5-1, 4.15 ERA). The winner will leave the series with a one-game lead with 22 left to play.

For you’re viewing displeasure here is the video. The replay that matters is shown at 1:43.

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