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Hershiser: Indians' request was out of line

CLEVELAND -- Texas Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser said Cleveland Indians manager Joel Skinner showed poor sportsmanship on Friday night.


With Rangers left-hander Kenny Rogers working on a perfect game in the sixth inning, Skinner asked home plate umpire Andy Fletcher to check for illegal scuffing. After a thorough inspection, the umpires found nothing unusual. Despite the delay and distraction, Rogers retired the next batter, Einar Diaz, on a ground ball.

Rogers lost both the perfect game and the no-hitter in the eighth inning. He did get credit for the victory in a 3-2 win.

"When a guy has a special game like that going, even if you think he's doing something to the ball, you leave that kind of stuff for another day," Hershiser told the Dallas Morning News after the game. "Or you wait until you get a hit. Did they cross a line? Yes, I think they did. I was a little surprised to see someone go out there and ask to see the ball. That's not something your dugout normally responds to in a kindly manner. And we're pretty normal."

After the game, several Indians said they believed Rogers was cheating.

"I know he was scuffing the ball," said Milton Bradley, who broke up the no-hitter. "There were five or six balls that all were scuffed in the same spot. He had a sharp fingernail or something."

When told the Indians collected 15 scuffed baseballs that went out of play, Rogers replied: "I saw some that were scuffed, too. A lot of things scuff the ball. The dirt, the wall. I used those balls, too. I'm not stupid.

"But I didn't do anything."

The Rangers believed Cleveland's accusations were nothing more than an attempt to distract Rogers. Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel also shortened up to bunt on consecutive pitches with the perfect game still intact in the seventh inning.

"If I had a perfect game being pitched against me, I wouldn't go have the ball checked," Rangers manager Jerry Narron told the Morning News. "He's never been checked. He doesn't have that kind of reputation."

Rogers said he was "disappointed" by the turn of events. He wondered why Cleveland never checked him in previous outings when he struggled against them.

"They have kicked my tail a lot," Rogers told the newspaper. "So now, they want to find some reason why I am getting them out?"

In the past four seasons, Rogers has gone 3-3 with a 5.91 ERA in seven starts against the Indians.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.