Scioscia protests game after lengthy dispute

Angels manager argues Royals baserunner interfered on throw to first

Scioscia protests game after lengthy dispute

KANSAS CITY -- The official rule book sat on the desk of Mike Scioscia's office from Kauffman Stadium late Wednesday night, half open and lying flat moments after the Angels filed a protest for a game they lost, 7-5.

Shortly after Scioscia's media scrum, the umpire responsible for his gripe, Phil Cuzzi, met with the Angels' manager behind closed doors for about a half-hour, hashing out a critical seventh-inning play that featured an errant throw by Matt Shoemaker that might have cost the Angels a sweep.

With none out, runners on first and second and the Angels leading, 3-1, in the seventh inning, rookie speedster Raul Mondesi laid down a sacrifice bunt. Shoemaker fielded it cleanly, but Mondesi was already nearing first base by the time he set his feet to throw. The baseball glanced off Mondesi's leg and rolled into right field, scoring the two game-tying runs and putting Mondesi on third after his first Major League hit.

"I had an angle; I just made a bad throw," Shoemaker said. "The worst part is that he was probably going to be safe anyway."

Mondesi's first career hit

Scioscia spent the next 10 or so minutes arguing with the umpires, stating that Mondesi interfered with Shoemaker's ability to successfully throw the ball to first base, and in that time the Angels filed a protest.

Games cannot be played under protest on the basis of judgment calls, but Scioscia stressed that the issue was a misinterpretation of the rules on Cuzzi's behalf. Cuzzi, according to Scioscia, admitted that Mondesi was out of the baseline when the throw came in, but said he was allowed to be in order to touch the base. But Scioscia believes Mondesi was out of the baseline the entire time.

"The question wasn't if the throw impeded him, or if he impeded the throw," Scioscia said. "The question wasn't if he was running inside. It's, what I believe, is his misinterpretation of the rule, given the guidelines that he gave me. There's no judgment involved. He admitted that he was outside the line. Phil felt that he wasn't in jeopardy because he was stepping to the bag, which is wrong. And that's the basis of the protest."

Cuzzi, who was the home-plate umpire and crew chief, could not comment because it is an ongoing protest. Major League Baseball will rule on it within the next couple of days, and if it is upheld, the game will be replayed from that moment forward during a mutual off-day.

The last protest to be upheld stemmed from an Aug. 19, 2014, game at Wrigley Field, between the Giants and Cubs, when MLB ruled that the Cubs were negligent in putting the tarp in place, causing the game to end after four and a half innings. It was the first upheld protest in 28 years.

"I wouldn't have protested it if I didn't feel I was 100 percent correct on this," Scioscia said. "This is a misinterpretation of a rule."

Royals manager Ned Yost, however, felt the Angels had no shot at winning the appeal.

"It was pretty confusing what was going on," he said. "It was a judgment call that he wasn't out of the lane. I looked at the video, and he was right on the line."

Yost then found the rule (5.09) on the cellphone of the Royals' vice president of communications, Mike Swanson, and read it aloud. The rule states that a runner is out if …

… in running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire's judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead.

Scioscia's argument rests on Cuzzi admitting that Mondesi was inside the line but was allowed to be, as opposed to Cuzzi saying Mondesi wasn't inside the line, which would be a judgment call. Barring an upheld protest, the Angels dropped their first game in six tries to the Royals this season, falling to 45-56 on the year while losing for only the sixth time in the last 18 games.

The Mondesi play sparked a long delay, and three pitches later, Shoemaker served up a go-ahead triple to the No. 9-hitting Jarrod Dyson. Asked if the delay affected him, Shoemaker said: "You can say yeah, you can say no. I don't know. Maybe."

Mondesi sparked another errant throw the next half-inning, with a two-out dribbler that Angels reliever Jose Alvarez fielded and threw wide of first, allowing two more runs to come in. The Angels made it interesting against Wade Davis in the ninth, loading the bases with one out before tacking on a couple more runs, but they came up short.

And a seventh-inning error cost them.

"It's kind of a frustrating way to lose the game," said Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella, who was covering first on the play. "I don't think Mondesi made it easy on him. I'm not an umpire by any means. I don't write the rules, but I know that Mondesi didn't make it easy for him to throw the ball. I'll just leave it at that."

Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.