I stayed up past midnight watching the Yankee game last night. Boy, was it a doozy. Bartolo Colon pitches eight stellar shutout innings — but the Yankees, facing a rookie pitcher, get only one unearned run. That’s okay, I guess — usually they don’t even get that. Mo comes in and blows the save, but then the bullpen holds the fort until the 15th, when the Yankees finally score some runs, giving Hector Noesi the win in his first big league game. It was a game that featured AJ Burnett as a pinch runner and Brandon Snyder being called out for being hit by a batted ball.
Now look at that last event. Snyder tried to hop out of the way of the ball but it hit him close to the ankle. The umpires immediately stopped play, called him out, and credited the batter with a hit. Good job on their part for recognizing the situation on something that doesn’t happen too often and applying the rule correctly.
Fast forward to this afternoon. As I finished reading the articles written about that marathon game last night, a video caught my eye.
Must C: Curious
Of course I was curious.
The issue in question: Two outs, runner on first. Matt Garza, pitching for the Cubs against the Reds, throws a pitch that bounces in the dirt. Miguel Cairo tries to check his swing but can’t — but because the ball was not caught cleanly and there are two outs, he is entitled to try for first base. Nobody realizes this except for the plate umpire, who signals strike three but not a putout, and the runner on first, who dashes off to second. Everyone is safe. Cue several minutes of arguing.
But wait a minute. Them arguers might have a point here. The Cubs commentators at the time noticed that Cairo was starting to walk to the dugout after his strikeout. At what point do you forfeit the opportunity to try for first? Rule 6.09b states that “A batter who does not realize his situation on a third strike not caught, and who is not in the process of running to first base, shall be declared out once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate.”
But apparently not to any of the arbiters, who allowed play to continue.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter, as Garza struck out the next batter while the Cubs threw the game away (literally — four errors led to all seven Cincinnati runs), but when you have a situation where the umpires don’t know the rules of the game, or are simply not paying enough attention to what’s happening on the field, you have a big problem. (mlb.com even posted an article on the situation.) Let’s just hope something of this sort doesn’t happen again, especially not in the playoffs.
On a completely different topic, these same Cubs are visiting Fenway Park in Boston for the first time since 1918. Should be fun to watch. I’m looking forward to it almost as much as the Yankees hosting the Mets.