BOSTON -- David Ortiz stood flabbergasted in between first and second base. He had kept running to second despite first-base umpire Mike Estabrook having signaled the ball foul before Ortiz even rounded first.
There was no way. It couldn't be foul. And replays seemed to indicate the ball was fair.
"I know it was, by about a foot and a half," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I know it's a tough corner. [Estabrook] said, 'I can't get replay because it's not a home run.' So I asked him, 'Can you ask everybody?' I said, 'The guys in the dugout have already seen it. They'd like to get this call right.'"
The apparent missed call and the scoring opportunity that was wasted proved to be the difference in the Red Sox's 6-5 loss to the Orioles in the first game of Monday's day-night doubleheader, cutting Boston's lead in the American League Wild Card to 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rays, who are off on Monday.
"It's just a break in the game," said Dustin Pedroia. "They got it. That's basically it. We've played 100 and whatever games. We're not gonna say our season is over because an umpire missed a call. We're better than that. I think, yeah, it's frustrating, it's another run, it's a big hit. It didn't go our way."
With two outs in the fifth inning in another playoff-like game for the Red Sox, Ortiz represented the tying run, with Pedroia standing on third following an RBI triple. Ortiz roped the first pitch he saw from pitcher Jeremy Guthrie into the right-field corner, a spot Ortiz has become quite accustomed to during his nine-year stint in Boston.
The ball bounced around in the corner as Ortiz began to round first. Had it been hit a few feet higher and flirted with a home run, it would have at least been eligible for review. But replay rules in baseball only allow the review of potential home runs, and this particular hit had appeared to smack the Scott's sign in right field, just inside the foul pole.
"I guess the reason why we have umpires down the line is so they can read the ball better," Ortiz said. "Because from a distance sometimes it gives you trouble. Don't [get] me wrong, when they started reviewing things, I think it was good for home runs and things like that. But in a situation like what happened today, they should give it a shot. We're trying to win baseball games, and it's not the right call."
It would have been an easy double for the heavy-footed Ortiz, and Josh Reddick would have gotten a chance to drive in the tying run. But the umpiring crew wouldn't change its call, despite the arguing efforts of Ortiz, Francona and first-base coach Ron Johnson. Ortiz then took a questionable called strike on the outside corner before roping a long drive to the center-field warning track, the third time in two days he's hit one just short of leaving the yard.
Ortiz could only slam his helmet on the ground in disbelief.
"That ball was like two feet inside the line, and when a situation like that comes down, you're like, 'Wow,'" he said. "You don't see umpires on a daily basis missing balls like that by that much. But Fenway's a little complicated."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter had a different opinion on the play. He said he had a few people take a look at the replays and the final report he got "was that it hit the foul screen first and then the foul pole [on the shallow right wall]. So if that's the case, what a great call. I mean, not that it affected us, but do you know how tough that is to make that [call] correctly for an umpire? ... That's really a testament to their ability."
Red Sox starter Kyle Weiland was knocked around on just three days' rest, while not receiving much help from his defense, and Boston's lineup could muster just four runs off Guthrie -- the AL leader in losses with 17.
The rookie Weiland, who had thrown 61 pitches in a loss to the Rays on Thursday, appeared fully refreshed in the first two innings. Four of six outs recorded came via the strikeout, with Weiland's cutter spinning magically. But similarly to Weiland's last start (when a broken bat interfered with a routine ground ball leading to four runs), some poor luck and the home run ball quickly turned his day from good to bad.
With one out in the third, Nolan Reimold smacked a line drive into left field that was within range of Darnell McDonald, a late addition to Monday's lineup after Carl Crawford was scratched with a stiff neck. But the early afternoon sun was glaring straight down to left field, and McDonald could only stick out a poorly aimed glove as the ball bounced off it for a base hit.
The very next at-bat, Josh Bell hit a similarly placed ball to left field that again caught too much sun for McDonald, who dropped another one, allowing Bell to reach second on the error. Matt Angle hit a third straight ball to left in the next at-bat, this one a towering shot that fell just between the glove of a leaping McDonald and the Green Monster, allowing two runs to score as the Orioles jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
"Day games, [the sun is] usually bad, but it was terrible out there today," said McDonald, who wasn't told he was starting until 30 minutes before the game. "It's a situation where I feel terrible putting my team in a hole like that. But you have to bounce back and play the game. It was a tough day for me in the outfield."
McDonald quickly made up for his error, leading off the third inning with a homer to left field, his first home run off a right-handed pitcher this season. But Weiland didn't look the same after the rough third inning, allowing back-to-back homers in the fourth to Robert Andino and Reimold, and another jack off the bat of J.J. Hardy to lead off the fifth. Weiland was relieved after 4 2/3 innings, allowing six runs -- five earned -- while pushing his ERA to 7.99.
"At that point, the momentum starts to go their way," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said of the defensive blunders in the third inning. "You want to slow things down. You want to just remind [Weiland] and reassure him that he's a good pitcher, that he's got great stuff. I went out there to slow it down and kill the momentum a little bit and let his head clear.
"I think he might have started running out of a little gas. He was pitching on three days' rest. But he still went after them. He didn't give in."
It was the fourth time in five starts Weiland didn't get through the fifth inning, but the Red Sox's bullpen was spot on. Felix Doubront pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings before Alfredo Aceves held the Orioles scoreless over three frames, needing two straight strikeouts in the eighth to leave runners stranded on second and third.
The Red Sox entered the nightcap of the doubleheader 2-10 in their last 12 games, the same record they started the year off with, having gone 83-46 in between.
"Today felt different," Saltalmacchia said. "Today, for me, I felt pretty good going into it. I felt pretty excited. I felt like we could start to turn things around, and it started with this first game. The first three or four innings went pretty good, and we gave up a few runs, but we still didn't feel out of it and then we obviously started scoring more runs. We feel good. It's hard to say. It's just a matter of things starting to fall our way."
Jason Mastrodonato is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.