Overturned safe call seals wild win for Angels

Overturned safe call seals wild win for Angels

ANAHEIM -- When the 88-mph sinker that turned into the game-ending double play in the Angels' 1-0 win over the White Sox Wednesday left Joe Smith's hand, he said his first thought was, "Oh God, you left it up." His next thought -- after Adam LaRoche chopped it on the ground to C.J. Cron at first base -- was, "Oh my goodness, he rolled it over."

The Angels were clinging to the lead in the ninth inning, and Smith was trying to finish the game while pitching for a fourth consecutive night. Closer Huston Street had also pitched three straight nights coming in, but he'd thrown more pitches than Smith and was unavailable. Before LaRoche grounded Smith's sinker to Cron, the White Sox had gotten runners to first and second with one out.

As Cron wheeled and fired to shortstop Erick Aybar, covering second base, for the second out of the inning, Smith said all he could think was, "Get to the bag. Get to the bag. Get to the bag." When Aybar fired a relay back to Smith on the run, that turned into, "Catch the ball. Catch the ball. Catch the ball."

Smith thought about the pitch, the hit, the coverage, the catch. The one thing he didn't think about was getting his foot onto the first-base bag. He almost missed it.

"I stepped, I thought I got my weight on the bag, I didn't, so then I just took a shot in the dark and accidentally hit it," Smith said. "That's pretty much what happened."

But as Smith stabbed for first base with his right foot, and LaRoche barreled through it, first-base umpire Mike Estabrook called LaRoche safe -- later telling Smith he thought LaRoche had simply beaten him to the base.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia charged out of the dugout, both because he knew they would likely challenge and to alert Smith, who had turned his back to the play to protest the call, that the play was still live and the tying run was at third base.

Once the action settled, and the Angels had called for time, Scioscia requested that the play be reviewed. After a three-minute, 36-second review, crew chief Dana DeMuth made the out signal. The call was overturned, and the Angels had held on for a win that kept them in the lead for the second Wild Card slot in the American League.

"It was, uh, pretty acrobatic," right-hander Jered Weaver, who started the game, said of Smith's play. "We didn't know how it was gonna go when the play actually happened. ... It was a weird way to end things, but a nice way to end things."

As Smith thought back to it in the clubhouse, his right shoulder wrapped in a large ice pack, a big smile crossed his face.

"I was ... very happy," Smith said.

He notched his second save and it was well-earned. Street will be back in the closer's role for Thursday's series finale. Smith, on the other hand, will take the day off.

"I'm tired. I'm down. I'm done," Smith said with a laugh. "Tomorrow, I won't be participating."

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.