To refresh, with one out and two runners aboard (R1 Lawrie and R3 Reyes) in the Yankees-Blue Jays game, B1 Adam Lind hit a ground ball to F1 Kuroda, who threw to F2 Stewart as R3 Reyes attempted to return to third base. After the brief rundown, R3 dove back into third base as R1 Lawrie stepped on the bag. F2 Stewart threw the ball to F5 Reynolds, who tagged R1 before tagging R3 Reyes, resulting in 3B Umpire Dan Iassogna's double play call.
Answer, Lightning Case Play 2013-09
In responding to the scenario, the following rule was properly identified and referenced: OBR Rule 7.08(c), which states a runner is out when "he is tagged, when the ball is alive, while off his base."
The MLB Umpire Manual (35-35) confirms this: "If two runners are touching a base at the same time, the following runner is out when tagged (unless, of course, the lead runner is forced)."
Rule 7.01 states, "A runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is out. He is then entitled to it until he is put out, or forced to vacate it for another runner legally entitled to that base." Rule 7.01, however, does not apply because of the principle of occupation.
R3 still does occupy third base, as portrayed in Rule 7.08(b) Comment ("a runner is considered to occupy a base until he legally has reached the next succeeding base"); however, trail/following runner R1 may touch third base and be declared safe (unless R3 is simultaneously touching) because with no other runner touching third base, R1 (along with R3) is entitled to it. R3 is entitled to the base over R1, but is not mandated to actually return and touch it. R3 acquired title to the base during the preceding play when he became R3, as opposed to R2, R1 or B1. A runner need not touch a base to occupy it.
Replays indicate R1 was never tagged while R3 was in contact with third base; therefore no simultaneous touching of a base occurred, meaning Rule 7.03(a) does not apply.
Therefore, Rules 7.01(entitlement to unoccupied base) and 7.03(b) are not applicable.
Rule 7.08(h) (he passes a preceding runner before such runner is out) does not apply since R1 never passed R3 (passing has to be "in full"; the trail runner must pass the entirety of the lead runner).
Review of this play suggests U3 Iassogna ruled R1 out pursuant to 7.03(a) and R3 due to 7.08(c).
Conclusion: U3's DP call was wrong as Rule 7.03(a) does not apply, though 7.08(c) does. Two out, R1, R3.