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MLB Source: Sam Holbrook ‘made the right call, by rule’

10.05.12 at 9:51 pm ET
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Umpire Sam Holbrook (34) speaks with Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez (33) as umpire Jeff Nelson (45) listens. (AP)

While millions of baseball fans believe the Braves were dealt an incredible injustice, an MLB source tells WEEI.com that umpire Sam Holbrook made the right call Friday night in the eighth inning of the Cardinals’ 6-3 win over the Braves at Turner Field.

With one out, runners on first and second, and the Braves trailing, 6-3, Andrelton Simmons hit a pop fly to shallow left field. Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma ranged out to shallow left and stuck out his right hand to signal left fielder Matt Holliday off the ball. Holliday appeared to call of Kozma and the Braves shortstop gave way.

As the ball was falling to the grass for an apparent hit, Holbrook, who was working as the left field umpire, raised his right hand to signal infield fly. Simmons was ruled out and chaos ensued. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez came out to argue vehemently and, as he was headed back to the Braves dugout after the argument, fans littered the field with garbage, causing a 19-minute delay.

“Umpires are taught that once an infielder gets his shoulders square to the infield and can make a routine play on the ball, then the umpire, no matter who it is, can and should make the [infield fly rule] call,” the source said. “Looking at the replay, Sam got the call right. He made the right call, by rule.

“What happened was that Holliday came in and apparently called off [Kozma] from making the catch. But once the call is made, it’s made.”

When play resumed, the Braves loaded the bases with two outs, only to have Michael Bourn strike out to end the threat. The Braves rallied again in the ninth, as Chipper Jones reached on an infield hit and Freddie Freeman doubled with two outs. But Dan Uggla grounded out to second to end the game.

Gonzalez immediately filed a formal protest – a protest denied by MLB less than an hour after the Cardinals held on for a 6-3 win.

Here is the complete definition of the “infield fly rule” found in section 2.00 of the official MLB rule book.

An INFIELD FLY is 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. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare “Infield Fly” for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baselines, the umpire shall declare “Infield Fly, if Fair.”
The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.
If a declared Infield Fly is allowed to fall untouched to the ground, and bounces foul before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball. If a declared Infield Fly falls untouched to the ground outside the baseline, and bounces fair before passing first or third base, it is an Infield Fly.
Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder—not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire’s judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire’s judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately.
When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05 (L). The infield fly rule takes precedence.

Read More: Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves, MLB, Sam Holbrook
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