Cleveland — Tigers manager Brad Ausmus asked a very reasonable question in the second inning after Jose Iglesias was called out at second base when second base umpire Lance Barksdale invoked the "in the neighborhood" rule.
How, Ausmus wondered, can that be an in the neighborhood play when the second baseman — Jason Kipnis — did not attempt to throw to first to complete a double play?
"The question I had was whether it was challengeable or not," Aumsus said. "At this time, I am still unsure if it's challengeable or not."
The rule gives umpires discretion. If they feel the defender is avoiding a possible collision, they can call an out even if he didn't technically touch the base, or make a throw to first.
"It shouldn't be a neighborhood play if he doesn't throw it," said Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who said the only time he doesn't have his foot literally on the base is when the throw pulls him off. "It's a force out."
Kinsler hit the ground ball in this case, and it scored Andrew Romine from third. Iglesias looked to be safe at second because Kipnis, who was essentially completing a force play, clearly was straddling the bag. Neither foot touched it.
Barksdale called him out and Ausmus approached home plate umpire and crew chief Gary Cederstrom.
"They called New York and New York told them it was not challengeable," Ausmus said. "I am not sure, quite frankly, what constitutes a neighborhood play — if it's just a play at second or a double play. But if there is no throw to first, then it's not a double-play attempt.
"I think we are still unsure at this point."
Ausmus pointed out that managers can challenge a play at second base when it looks as if a throw has pulled the fielder off the base. In this case, Barksdale felt Kipnis was avoiding a possible collision.
"I was told it wasn't challengeable, but I didn't lose my challenge," Ausmus said.
He would use that challenge successfully in the fourth inning when Iglesias, leading off the inning, was called out at first. That call was overturned and the Tigers went on to score four runs.