A day after a blown home run call, the House that Ruth Built became the ballpark that A-Rod remodeled.
Yankee Stadium workers put up netting yesterday on a staircase just beyond the right-centerfield wall, the spot that confused the umpires, cost Alex Rodriguez a home run and intensified baseball's debate about instant replay.
"It'll make it a little easier out there," umpire crew chief Tim Welke said.
Nothing was easy for Welke's crew Wednesday night on a play that became the majors' third missed homer call in 4 days.
Rodriguez thought he'd hit his second home run of the game for the Yankees, yet wound up with a double when his rocket shot ricocheted off the side of that cement staircase and quickly bounced back into play. The staircase, painted yellow, is situated about two to three feet behind the fence.
Welke, working at second base, and the other umps huddled and ruled the ball had stayed in play.
"We couldn't see it," Welke said. "We just didn't know for sure."
An inning or two later, Johnny Damon was jogging to his spot in leftfield and told Welke replays clearly showed the ball flying over the wall.
"I felt terrible," Welke said. "I mean, I think I know how hard it is to hit a home run in the major leagues. I had trouble sleeping after something like that."
Coincidentally, as Welke spoke outside the umpires' locker room before last night's game between the Yankees and Baltimore, Rodriguez walked past on his way to the indoor batting cage. Headphones on, Rodriguez did not glance at Welke.
The play had no real effect on the outcome. Rodriguez eventually scored and the Yankees beat the Orioles, 8-0.
Yankee Stadium is 85 years old, and this is its final season.
"I think it will help. They told me what they were doing and it made sense," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
On Sunday night, Carlos Delgado, of the New York Mets, lost a home run at Yankee Stadium when umpires reversed the original call and said his drive was foul. The ball actually glanced off the top of the leftfield wall, hit the foul pole and fell into the seats.
Monday night, Geovany Soto, of the Cubs, hit a ball at Houston that should have been called a home run. Umpires ruled it was in play and Soto ended up with an inside-the-park homer.
The next day, baseball executive Bob Watson was present as workers at Minute Maid Park removed a piece of wood in centerfield that was painted yellow and caused confusion.
Yesterday, baseball said one of its top officials will develop a proposal for instant replay that could be tested later this year in the Arizona Fall League.
* At New York, Robinson Cano's RBI single in the ninth inning drove in Hideki Matsui for the winning run as the Yankees edged the Orioles, 2-1. Matsui also scored on a sacrifice fly in the fourth by Shelley Duncan. Baltimore third baseman Melvin Mora was out of the lineup, a day after being accidentally spiked in the right hand by Matsui.
* At Chicago, Carlos Quentin hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning and the White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians, 3-1, for their eighth straight victory. Quentin had two RBI.
* At Boston, J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell hit grand slams to help Daisuke Matsuzaka (8-0) remain unbeaten, and the Red Sox downed the Kansas City Royals, 11-8.
* At Minneapolis, Josh Hamilton hit a two-out homer in the 10th inning to lift the Texas Rangers over the Twins, 8-7.
* At Detroit, Brandon Inge and Matt Joyce homered as the Tigers beat the Seattle Mariners, 9-2.