Thursday, April 11, 2024

A's-Rangers Double Play - Infield Fly or Ordinary Effort?

Oakland turned an inning-ending double play against Texas when Rangers batter Jared Walsh's soft infield pop fly evaded diving A's second baseman Zack Gelof near the pitcher's mound, with 2B Umpire Tom Hanahan initially appearing to signal an infield fly, before declaring the batter safe, electing not to invoke the infield fly rule because none of the Athletics infielders could have caught the batted ball with ordinary effort.

With one out and runners on first and second base in the bottom of the 7th inning, Walsh's quasi-fly ball initially attracted speculation that the infield fly rule would be invoked, but as second baseman Gelof slid in an unsuccessful attempt to catch the batted ball, Oakland recovered and turned the inning-ending double play when umpires ruled the infield fly rule did not apply.

Gelof's slide may have tipped the scales against ruling this play an infield fly, as pitcher Austin Adams would have had to range backwards, off the mound to field the ball and Gelof was the other closest infielder, meaning that according to the umpire, no infielder was in a place where this ball could have been caught with ordinary effort.

This might be the infield fly counterweight to LF Umpire Sam Holbrook's infamous postseason infield fly call in Atlanta, when the umpire ruled that a shortstop deep into left field could have caught a fly ball with ordinary effort because he was camped under the ball before suddenly vacating that position.

Although formally termed an "infield fly" the definition and rule may more accurately be deemed the "infielder fly rule."

An infield fly is defined as "a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out," and the infield fly rule results in the batter being declared automatically out while the ball itself remains live.

When Walsh's batted ball fell to the ground and the infield fly rule was not invoked, that forced both preceding baserunners R1 and R2 to advance, allowing pitcher Adams to turn a double play when both R1 Adolis GarcĂ­a and R1 Jonah Heim didn't advance.

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Infield Fly Rule doesn't mean every infield fly automatically qualifies


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