MLB questions ump's game-ending call in White Sox loss, team says

ByABC News
May 24, 2024, 5:19 PM

The Baltimore Orioles held on to beat the Chicago White Sox 8-6 on Thursday night, with the game ending on a controversial runner interference call. The crew chief said the umpire had no choice but to make the call, but MLB says that might not be the case.

With two on and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Andrew Benintendi popped up. Shortstop Gunnar Henderson caught the ball -- umpires had called the infield fly rule -- for the second out, then third-base umpire Junior Valentine ruled that Andrew Vaughn interfered with Henderson on the play.

After the game, Valentine said there is no discretion when a baserunner appears to make incidental contact with a fielder -- even if the play results in a defensive out.

"If he hinders the fielder in the attempt to field a batted ball, intent is not required and it's interference," Valentine said. "When you see the interference, you call it."

Rule 6.01(a) seems to support that: "A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not."

However, MLB reached out to the White Sox after the game to say that the umpires do have discretion on that play and that interference didn't have to be called, the team confirmed on Friday. 

"We've talked to MLB," White Sox GM Chris Getz said. "I'll keep those conversations private. I was told it's a judgment play. There is discretion."

Vaughn, who was the runner at second and ruled out, said he wasn't expecting the call.

"It was a big surprise," Vaughn said. "I don't feel like he was deterred from making a play. It was a high popup. We were all reading it. As a runner, I've got to read it and make sure I can get back to the bag."

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol argued vehemently with umpires at the conclusion of the stunning final sequence.

"I don't like the way the play was called.," Grifol said. "It was called inaccurate in my opinion. There are different interpretations of the rule.

"I think MLB will look into this play- (for the future). Its in everyone's best interests for there to be some clarity on this play."

Information from ESPN's Jesse Rogers, The Associated Press and Field Level Media was used in this report.