A batter is out when: (b) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher; "Legally caught" means in the catcher's glove before the ball touches the ground.
(b): The batter becomes a runner when the third strike called by the umpire is not caught … When a batter becomes a base runner on a third strike not caught by the catcher and starts for the dugout, or his position, and then realizes his situation and then attempts to reach first base, he is not out unless he or first base is tagged before he reaches first base
Alright, listen. I had the good fortune of being at this game, albeit not exactly right behind home plate.
In short, the umpire made the right decision but the wrong signal. He interpreted the rule correctly – on a 3rd strike that hits the ground, a tag is required – but his arm signal was unclear. The ump insists that he always uses that motion for "strike 3" and a different one (pulling his arm toward his body) for "out". So I feel bad for the Angels – I initially thought the ump had signalled "out" myself, and I can see how it was confusing.
However, the media are neglecting to mention that in the second inning Aaron Rowand was called out at home attempting to score on an errant throw after a triple. Replays clearly show that the ump – the very same home plate ump – blew the call. He was safe. The throw beat him, but the tag didn't. So absent that blown call in the Angels' favor, the Sox wouldn't even have been batting in the 9th. Luck giveth and taketh away.
We'll return to more talk about James Dobson and sex dolls soon, I promise.