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 to which the Angels are basing their official 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 was reaching toward second, off the bag. Replays showed 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 call Konerko out on the play, umpires, according to baseball’s rule book, 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 that Konerko was safe, 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, in 10 innings.
The fact that Iannetta hesitated before throwing to first “was an indication that he interfered,” the catcher said of Konerko. “I didn’t want to throw the ball into right field, and I didn’t want to throw at the runner because there’s no guarantee I’d get the call. It’s too big of a situation to take aim at a runner.”
Scioscia, a former Dodgers catcher, said the fact that the umpires agreed that Konerko ran inside the line “makes it virtually impossible for him to not affect the throw from Iannetta. 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 filed their 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 the double play.
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