Fly balls at Metrodome sometimes tricky
Roof, lights can cause trouble for friends, foes alike
MINNEAPOLIS -- What appeared to be a routine fly ball Saturday at the Metrodome turned out to be far from it -- and it helped propel the home team to a win.With a runner on first and Minnesota trailing, 2-1, with one out in the eighth inning, Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera sent a high fly ball off Tigers starter Justin Verlander to left field. Detroit outfielder Don Kelly -- who entered the game as a defensive substitution in the seventh -- appeared to have a bead on the ball. But just before the ball got to him, Kelly extended his arms, indicating he had lost Cabrera's fly ball in the roof of the Metrodome. "I think he saw it off the bat and just lost it," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "You could tell he was having a hard time with it," Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire said. "I don't wish it on anybody, but we were all hoping in the dugout he lost it." Kelly indeed was unable to come up with the ball, giving Cabrera a double and allowing Denard Span to advance from first to third on the play. Both runners came around to score two batters later on a bloop single by Jason Kubel that put Minnesota ahead for good. With the afternoon sun shining through the Metrodome's Teflon roof, baseballs become even harder to track in the white ceiling. But add the glare from a bank of lights in foul territory, and the seemingly routine task of catching a fly ball becomes a struggle. "Once it went through the lights, I lost it," Kelly said. "There's really nothing else you can do. I mean, it's not like I took my eye off of if. People were saying they've seen many, many balls lost here. It's not the first. It's not going to be the last." "We've seen that so many times, and that's the unfortunate part about the dome," Gardenhire said. "That's why I think people hate coming in here." Even Minnesota's outfielders have a tough time tracking fly balls in their home ballpark. Span admitted after Saturday's win that he struggled with a fly ball hit to left by Tigers shortstop Adam Everett in the top of the ninth inning. "I'd seen it off the bat. I literally lost it when it got to its highest point," Span said. "I think that's just part of playing here every day and just sticking with the ball." "You saw Denard Span struggle for a couple there when he got moved to left," Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "You've seen [Justin] Morneau, even as close as first base, miss a ball or not see them. So it's just one of the things that makes the Metrodome the Metrodome." No one in either clubhouse after the game was about to point fingers at Kelly, who was playing in just his fourth career game at the Metrodome on Saturday. "You can't fault Kelly, because it definitely was tough to see," Span said. "A lot of weird things happen here," Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson said. "There's no blame. It's just the way it is."
Tyler Mason is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.