First base umpire C.B. Bucknor was in the middle of two controversial calls that went against the Red Sox in their 5-0 loss to the Angels on Thursday night at Angels Stadium in the opening game of the American League Division Series. The first came in the fourth inning when Alex Gonzalez' throw drew Kevin Youkilis off the bag, forcing the first baseman to make a swipe tag on Angels baserunner Howie Kendrick. Replays showed that Youkilis did tag Kendrick before Kendrick reached the base, but Bucknor didn't see it that way. “He said I tagged him, but he said he was on the base when I tagged him,” Youkilis said. “I didn’t think that was possible.”
The second instance also came on a grounder off the bat of Kendrick, who this time led off the sixth by hitting the ball to third baseman Mike Lowell. Lowell tossed the ball wide to Youkilis, who scurried to get his foot back on the bag before Kendrick arrived, and he did so successfully, according to replays. Again, Bucknor saw it differently. “I thought they both were out. C.B. disagreed. So I’ll just move on go from there,” Youkilis said. “I can’t really do anything. ... It’s not a big deal after the game. It didn’t really have anything to do with us losing. I’m not really worried about it.”
After the game, crew chief Joe West was asked about the controversial plays at first, which also included Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia gathering a wide throw from pitcher Jon Lester after a Chone Figgins bunt and getting back to the bag in time for the out.
“They were three bang-bang plays at first base. It seemed like two of them went against the Red Sox, one of them went against the Angels. I mean, they’re all bang-bang plays,” West said. “From where I was, it’s the kind of play, they hit the bag at the same time. I’m sure that the camera slowed everything down and they deciphered it the way they did. These are professional umpires, and they get in the best position they can to make the call. He was in great position on all the plays. If he got blocked out, he got blocked out. He was there to make the call. It didn’t appear that any of them were real routine plays, either. Those were all tough plays. They were all bang-bang plays. And tomorrow, there are going to be some more. These two guys always go at it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
West confirmed he saw the plays on replay following the game, yet still he wouldn’t definitely say Bucknor erred in any of his decisions.
“Well, I had my impression. And you see them, you’re going to have yours,” West said. "They were bang-bang plays. The guys were pulled off the bag on all three of them. I’m going to tell you, from my heart, I think he was in the best position he could be.”