Baseball

Leyland: Tigers to blame for ignominy, but ...

The Detroit Tigers earned an unwanted place in baseball history, becoming the first team to miss out on the playoffs after having a three-game lead with four games left.

“We have nobody to blame but ourselves for not wrapping it up last week at home,” Jim Leyland said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “Shame on us.”

That doesn’t change how Detroit’s manager felt about a key moment in the 163rd game of the season Tuesday.

Replays appeared to show that Brandon Inge’s jersey was grazed by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 12th inning at Minnesota, but the umpire didn’t put him on first to force home a go-ahead run. The Twins went on to score in the home half of the inning to win, 6-5, breaking a tie in the division to advance to the postseason and start the Tigers’ offseason.

“I’m really upset that it ended the way it did, having Brandon get hit by a pitch because that totally changes that game,” Leyland said. “I can understand how the ump didn’t see the pitch hit him, but to say video was inconclusive upsets me because everybody in America saw that it did.

“I think the head of the umpires or the league office should come out and say the umpire missed that call,” Leyland said.

It doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen.

Home plate umpire Randy Marsh said he did not see a replay that showed the ball hit Inge and Major League Baseball’s vice president of umpires stood by Marsh.

“I understand and respect Jim’s call for accountability because umpires should acknowledge when they miss a call,” said MLB’s Mike Port, who said traveling has prevented him from seeing the pitch in question. “But if Randy Marsh, who has worked about 4,000 games, said the replays he saw were inconclusive, then I would have to agree with his assessment at this point.

“I spoke to people today with more than 100 years of experience who saw replays and none of them would bet a large sum of money that it was conclusive one way or another,” Port added.

Suit brings back Howard HR

A Florida girl who grabbed a historic home run ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard in July has her prize back after suing the team for its return.

Jennifer Valdivia, 12, scooped up the ball – Howard’s 200th career homer, making him the fastest to reach that milestone – then was escorted to the Phillies clubhouse, where she exchanged it for an autographed ball.

The girl’s mother filed a lawsuit Monday seeking the home run ball’s return.

Attendance takes a hit

Major League Baseball’s average attendance dropped 6.7 percent this year with the United States in the midst of a global recession.

The average was 30,350, down from 32,528 in 2008. Part of the drop was because of smaller capacities at two new ballparks in New York.

Total attendance of 73.4 million was baseball’s fifth-highest.

Short hops

Former major league pitcher Brian Powell, who was 7-18 with a 5.94 ERA in 59 games for Detroit, Houston, San Francisco and Philadelphia, has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Tallahassee, Fla. He was 35. … The Brewers have announced an $8 million, one-year contract with career saves leader Trevor Hoffman with a mutual option for 2011. … The New York Mets received minor leaguers Chris Carter and Eddie Lora from Boston, completing an Aug. 25 trade that sent reliever Billy Wagner to the Red Sox.

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