MLB.com - DETROIT -- To twist the famous newspaper lede, the imperfect call spoiled the perfect game Wednesday.
The Tigers were ready to celebrate when Indians shortstop Jason Donald grounded to first base with two outs in the ninth. Brandon Inge was jumping for joy. Don Kelly and Austin Jackson were rushing in from the outfield to join in the celebration that was sure. Gerald Laird and the rest of the Detroit dugout was readying to storm the field and mob pitcher Armando Galarraga.
One call from first-base umpire Jim Joyce changed history.
It was tough enough for the Tigers to believe. For Joyce, who made the safe call that broke up perfection in Detroit's one-hit, 3-0 win over Cleveland, it was heartbreaking. And as television replays showed, it was a mistake -- an honest mistake, as Joyce explained.
"It was the biggest call of my career," an emotional Joyce told reporters, "and I kicked it. I just cost that kid a perfect game."
Joyce, a 22-year veteran umpire, watched the bang-bang play and went with what he felt he saw.
"I really thought he beat the ball," Joyce said. "At that time, I thought he beat the ball."
Replays told otherwise, showing Galarraga's right foot on the bag with the ball in his glove and Donald still lunging for the bag.
The Tigers felt like they had seen it that way from their vantage point, whether on the infield or from the third-base dugout. Replays backed up their story.
"You guys like me all watched the TV and saw the replays," Galarraga said, "and for any pitcher in any league anywhere, that was a perfect game. When you watch the replays, it was totally an out. There's no way he can call that safe. That's what made me sad. I can't help it. I really can't help it."
Nor could his teammates.
"That's not an easy play right there," catcher Gerald Laird said, "but I saw Miggy throw and [Galarraga] caught it. And honestly, I thought ... I don't know, I'm at a loss for words right now."
Once Joyce saw the replay, there wasn't much he could say, either. All he could do was admit that he made a mistake, to admit that umpires are human.
Are you kidding me? I watched that play last night, and literally wanted to jump through the TV screen and start pummeling Jim Joyce. I mean, I get it, he's human. But if you watch the play close enough, and look at Joyce, he was just staring at Cabrera for half of the play. Absolute disgrace. Look, I get that Joyce got like a silver medal for umpiring a few years back, but you just can't make a mistake like that, amigo. You can't. That kid will never have an opportunity like that. Joyce feels like shit, I understand that, but it's just an awful situation. That was the 21st perfect game in history. The third one in 5 weeks. Could've been amazing.