Angels catcher Chris Iannetta prepares to throw to first base on a double-play… (David Banks / Getty Images )
CHICAGO — Catcher Chris Iannetta said he had to alter his throw to first base to avoid hitting Chicago White Sox runner Paul Konerko on Friday night, a key piece of evidence in the Angels' protest of the game.
The White Sox had the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning when Konerko grounded to third baseman Alberto Callaspo, who threw home to force Alejandro De Aza.
But Iannetta's throw, in an attempt to double up Konerko, pulled first baseman Albert Pujols, who reached toward second, off the bag. Replays showed that Konerko ran the last 45 feet to first well inside the baseline, which would seem to be a violation of Rule 6.05(k).
But to invoke that rule, umpires must deem that the runner "interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead." In upholding the call, crew chief Dana DeMuth said, "Konerko in no way interfered with the play at first — the catcher threw wild."
The White Sox followed with a run-scoring single and A.J. Pierzynski's three-run homer for a four-run inning and went on to win, 8-6.
The fact that Iannetta hesitated before throwing to first "was an indication that the runner interfered with me," the catcher said. "I had to throw around the runner. I didn't want to throw into right field, and I didn't want to throw at the runner because there's no guarantee I'd get the call."
Scioscia, a former Dodgers catcher, said the umpires conceded that Konerko ran inside the line.
"That makes it virtually impossible for him to not affect the throw from Iannetta," Scioscia said. "It very clearly puts him in the throwing lane of our catcher."
Angels catchers are not instructed to throw at the runner on that play, but had Iannetta hit Konerko, the umpires "would have absolutely made the call," Scioscia said.
The Angels submitted the protest late Friday night with the commissioner's office, which has up to five days to make a ruling. If the protest is upheld, the Angels and White Sox would replay the game from the point following Konerko's double play.
Iannetta, who missed 21/2 months of the season because of a broken wrist and forearm strain, was grateful he did not wind up on the disabled list again after a bone-crunching home-plate collision with White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn, who is 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, Friday night.
As Iannetta leaped for a high throw from left fielder Mark Trumbo in the first inning, Dunn barreled into the 6-foot, 230-pound catcher's mid-section. The players seemed to bounce off each other — both remained standing — and Iannetta held on to the ball for the out.
"He could have really lowered his shoulder and crushed me," Iannetta said. "The next time he came up, I thanked him for not annihilating me. It was a really clean play, very sportsmanlike of him."
Iannetta, who was in the lineup Saturday night, said he was surprised that he came out of the play with no injury.
"I did a quick little systems check to make sure I was intact — arms, legs, ribs," Iannetta said. "I came out OK."
The Angels scrambled for cover Saturday as a powerful, quick-moving storm brought heavy rain, thunder, lightning, high winds and dark skies toU.S. Cellular Field— and knocked out power — as batting practice was about to begin.
"Where's Dorothy?" Torii Hunter quipped. "Where's Toto?"
Said pitcher Dan Haren: "If I get struck by lightning, maybe I'll throw 93 mph again."