KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nobody ever said the system would be perfect. Ron Gardenhire learned that the hard way Tuesday.
Gardenhire was ejected from the Twins' 2-1 victory at Kansas City after challenging a fly ball that umpires ruled had been caught by Royals left fielder Alex Gordon. The controversial play distracted from, but could not overshadow, a strong bounce-back performance by right-hander Kyle Gibson, who missed his last start because of a back injury.
Gibson, who had allowed six or more runs in three of his previous five starts, struck out seven hitters over seven innings, and gave up only two singles to get the victory. He faced the minimum 13 hitters into the fifth inning, and never allowed a runner to reach third base. He even picked Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar off first base to end the third inning with a flourish.
Too bad Gardenhire didn't get to see it. He was in the Twins clubhouse, banished there by home plate umpire Ted Barrett, and the punishment -- his 71st career ejection, and fourth this season -- seemed an unjust one.
The play in question ended the top of the third inning, but not before Gardenhire came out to ask for a replay review of Gordon's diving catch of a Chris Parmelee sinking liner to short left. As the teams waited out an unusually long delay while umpires in New York examined the video evidence, a replay on the Kauffman Stadium scoreboard seemed to show that the ball hit the ground a split-second before Gordon gloved it.
But the review umpires shocked the Twins by upholding the out, and Gardenhire rushed to the plate, pointing at the scoreboard. Barrett ordered him back to the dugout -- under replay rules, managers may not argue a play once the challenge has been ruled upon -- and quickly ejected him when the Twins manager ignored the order. The two jawed angrily at each other until Gardenhire finally left.
That wasn't the only odd play that might have affected the score. In the fifth inning, the Twins benefited from an unusual obstruction call, though a double play cut short any chance of opening a big lead.
After a one-out double by Danny Santana and a single by Sam Fuld, Brian Dozier lined another hit at Gordon, scoring Santana. But as Fuld rounded second base, he ran into Alcides Escobar, and third-base umpire Alfonso Marquez quickly awarded Fuld third base and Dozier second. Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Parmelee grounded into a double play, ending the inning before the Twins could capitalize further.
Minnesota's first run was also scored by Santana, who collected his fourth bunt single of the season to lead off the third inning. An errant pickoff throw by James Shields got past first baseman Eric Hosmer, and Santana moved to third on a groundout by Fuld. One out later, Willingham lofted a high fly ball to center, where Lorenzo Cain didn't even try to challenge the speedy Santana with a throw to the plate.
Shields left after throwing a season-high 124 pitches, and despite allowing only one earned run, he was in line for his third loss of the season against the Twins. It's also the fourth consecutive start he has failed to earn his 10th victory of the season.
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