Marcus Semien, A's upset after another controversial call goes against them


OAKLAND — Marcus Semien had never been ejected from a game in his entire career.

Not just at the major league level. We're talking minor leagues, college, high school, even Little League. Not a single ejection in his life.

That changed Saturday night at the Coliseum when first base umpire Alan Porter gave Semien the boot after a controversial call in the fifth inning.

Trailing 3-1, the A's put runners on first and second with two outs. Semien sent a Justin Verlander offering down the right field line, just out of the reach of a diving Josh Reddick. The ball appeared to land on the foul line, but Porter called it foul.

Oakland challenged the ruling, with replays seeming to show white chalk flying up from the foul line as the ball landed. But upon review, the ruling on the field stood, Semien would ground out to end the inning, and the Astros went on to a 5-1 win.

"It's a game-changing play," Semien said after the game. "If that ball is called fair, it's a tie game with a runner on third and our best hitter up, against the best pitcher in the major leagues, in my opinion. Anytime you're facing the best pitcher in the league and you have a chance to get an extra-base hit that ties the game with your best hitter on deck and it gets called foul, you're going to be frustrated.

"It's not Alan's fault if he couldn't see the white paint come up because Reddick dove. Was he maybe on the infield dirt? Maybe not close enough? Who knows? I don't know what their position is supposed to be. But when I'm on the field and I see a big screen at the Coliseum and I see white paint come up, I think I should have a (two-run) double or triple against Justin Verlander, and that's why I was mad."

Semien voiced his displeasure to Porter at the end of the inning and was thrown out of the game prior to the top of the sixth. A's manager Bob Melvin took great issue with that.

"My problem was that he got ejected when he was 20 yards away from him with his back turned," Melvin said. "That's how I saw it."

Semien shared a similar account.

"He said, 'That's enough' a couple of times," Semien said. "I said something else, but I was about 90 feet away when I said my last part. ... If you see white chalk and if you can tell that it's white chalk -- they said they couldn't tell, according to the broadcast. They said it wasn't conclusive. That's why I was so angry at Alan at the time because, if he called it fair, they wouldn't have been able to tell. It would've been a triple. I would've been standing on third base, I think."

This was just the latest in a string of controversial calls that have gone against the A's. Oakland reliever Joakim Soria was ejected from a game against the Angels earlier this week after he thought he had struck out Shohei Ohtani to end the ninth inning and keep the game tied. Ohtani went on to single home the two go-ahead runs.

"It's emotional," Melvin said of Saturday night's call. "It's a big play in the game. We had an issue with it and it didn't go our way."

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Following a 10-game winning streak, the A's have now lost four straight, falling back to .500 for the season at 29-29. The team will have to regain its composure in a hurry, as Houston takes aim at a sweep Sunday afternoon.

"I didn't stay poised tonight," Semien admitted. "I got thrown out of the game. Just keep your cool, I guess, and move on."

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