TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie noticed Colby Rasmus was caught between second and third base and motored home, just as Howie Kendrick's toss was landing in the glove of shortstop Erick Aybar, who was standing on second base and darted a throw toward the plate. Catcher John Hester ranged to his left, caught the throw and absorbed a blow from the Blue Jays' bruising third baseman, sprawling on the ground with ball in glove.
Home-plate umpire James Hoye called Lawrie safe -- and Angels manager Mike Scioscia was furious.
"The timing was on our side on the play," Scioscia, a former catcher, would say later. "In 35 years, I've never seen a catcher get bulled over at the plate, hold the ball and the runner be called safe."
The Angels didn't get the call, their manager got ejected and the Blue Jays had cut their deficit to one on that controversial play in the bottom of the sixth.
But it might have inspired them to victory on Sunday.
After that, the Angels perked up. They got out of a bases-loaded jam with nothing across, received eighth-inning homers from Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo and pulled away thanks to a four-run ninth inning, pushing themselves to a 10-6 win at Rogers Centre and a split of a four-game series.
"I think it was the call that kind of pumped us up, took us to another level," said Torii Hunter, who turned in two critical defensive plays. "That call, we just felt like he was out. Scioscia got thrown out, and it was tough for us. We sucked it up; we had a little drive."
Everything seemed to be going the Angels' way through the first five innings. Alberto Callaspo had hit a two-run homer to make it a 3-0 game and C.J. Wilson was rolling through the first five innings despite battling some release-point issues.
But everything changed with that play in the bottom of the sixth.
With the bases loaded and none out, second baseman Howie Kendrick booted a Jose Bautista grounder, allowing a run to score and sending the ball into shallow center field. Upon picking it up and throwing to second, Rasmus was caught in between and Lawrie took off, Aybar's throw beating him to home plate and Lawrie barreling over Hester and then coming back to tag home plate even though he had already been ruled safe.
"When you see the ball at second base," Lawrie said, "you know there's going to be a play at the plate, so you have to brace yourself."
The Angels didn't really have a problem with the collision -- though pitching coach Mike Butcher was seen chirping at Lawrie from the dugout -- but they did with the call.
"I've never seen a collision at the plate where the catcher holds on to the ball and the umpire rules him safe," Hester said. "I'm not sure what exactly the rules are or anything like that, but I was completely caught off guard and totally shocked."
"I thought we had an out," said Wilson, who gave up two runs (one earned) in five-plus innings after being selected to the All-Star team, putting his ERA at 2.33. "Looking back and seeing the replay and stuff, I mean obviously it's kind of a situation where it's definitely not how a lot of guys would run the bases, I guess. But, I mean, you can never really change someone's stripes, you know? So, he's going to play the way he plays, and there's nothing anybody's ever going to be able to do about that."
Wilson proceeded to walk the next batter, loading the bases again with none out and paving the way for LaTroy Hawkins. Then, Hunter doubled up Rasmus, fielding a softly hit fly ball from Yunel Escobar with his momentum toward home plate and making a perfect one-hop throw to get the speedy center fielder.
Hunter had robbed Escobar of an RBI. Two innings later, he'd rob him of a hit, making a diving catch in shallow right field with two on and the Angels leading by three.
"I was just trying to minimize the damage somehow," said Hunter, who wound up throwing to an unoccupied first base after the catch because he thought the first-base coach was Albert Pujols, though the runs never scored.
Offensively, the Angels got a big lift from their two young outfielders, Trout and Trumbo, both of whom were selected to the All-Star Game a few hours earlier and were responsible for a three-run eighth inning after the Blue Jays tied it on J.P. Arencibia's solo homer in the seventh.
Trout started it off against Francisco Cordero, hitting a leadoff homer to straightaway center field that gave him nine on the year and was the highlight of a two-hit day that also saw him score from second base on a flyout. Three batters later, after a Pujols single, Trumbo -- also committed to the State Farm Home Run Derby -- blasted a two-run shot to left-center field, extending the Angels' lead to 6-3 and giving him 20 on the year.
The Angels rolled from there, with the Blue Jays' three runs off Jordan Walden in the bottom of the ninth hardly being enough.
The Angels improved to 15-3 on the road and, with 13 hits, have now totaled double-digit-hit games in each of their last seven contests.
"It was obviously a day we needed," Scioscia said. "These guys showed a lot of character. Some things didn't go our way in the game, but they kept playing."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.