Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rule 6.08(b)(2): Hit by Pitch, Stay Here!

A rare play occurred in today's Astros-Braves game. In the top of the 11th, Astros batter Matt Downs took a 1-2 slider to the elbow from Braves pitcher Cory Gearrin. However, HP Umpire Alfonso Marquez (72) immediately signaled dead ball and did not award Downs 1st base, telling him to stay put. Marquez was met with protest from Downs and Astros Manager Brad Mills, but neither were ejected. Downs later struck out to end the at-bat.

Marquez signaled dead ball, did not award Downs 1st base, and called ball two because, in Marquez's judgement, Downs had the opportunity, but did not attempt to avoid being hit by the ball. Marquez made the ruling under MLB Rule 6.08(b)(2) and the corresponding approved ruling, which states:

"The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when --(b) He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless...(2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball;... If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.
APPROVED RULING: When the batter is touched by a pitched ball which does not entitle him to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance."

As the announcers noted, this is a call you rarely see, however, Marquez properly applied Rule 6.08(b) exactly as written. He determined that there was an opportunity to avoid the pitch and that Downs did not attempt to avoid it, he ruled the ball was out of the strike zone and called ball, and immediately signaled dead ball, as the the approved ruling calls for.

One of the most famous instances in which a batter was not awarded 1st base after being hit by a pitch allowed for Don Drysdale to continue his scoreless streak to 45 innings (eventually reaching a record 58 2/3 innings). In 1968, Drysdale hit Giants catcher Dick Dietz in the elbow with the bases loaded, however HP Umpire Harry Wendelstedt ruled Dietz did not attempt to avoid the pitch. Drysdale went on to retire Dietz and the side. He pitched 13 2/3rd more scoreless innings.


Matt said...

Did anybody see the dropped strike three call in the Reds game? The Cubs rookie catcher didn't catch the ball and the Reds got to continue hitting in the inning, but the Cubs announcers said the umpires got it wrong because the batter didn't start to first base and had left the dirt area around the batter's box.

Anonymous said...

Marquez had an interesting day behind the plate. In the bottom of the 9th, his strike zone suddenly seemed to expand; but it didn't keep Brian McCann from tying the game.

A quick Google search will reveal that Astros manager Brad Mills has had a few disagreements with Marquez before. This is just the latest one. Also, if you watch the video clip of McCann's walk-off HR, you can see Mills saying something to Marquez as he exits the field.

Anonymous said...

Link to dropped 3rd strike video, http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=14903331

Jon Terry said...

This is a great call! More importantly, it's a gutsy call. This doesn't get called enough. In fact, so little that most coaches don't even know that an umpire can make this call. I had a huge argument with a coach over this very call about a month ago, and he'd never even heard of it. Way to go Marquez!

Mitch said...

Personally, I believe that this is a bad rule. If a pitcher makes a poor pitch and it hits the batter, so long as he doesn't MOVE INTO the pitch, the batter has his right to stand there and take the free base if he so chooses.

Again, it makes sense to not award a HBP if the batter moves into the path of the ball, but if the ball was headed towards him already, he should be able to get first base.

No sense is rewarding the pitcher for making an awful pitch.

Anonymous said...

Mitch, it looks to me like he DID move his elbow into the path of the ball. Great call by the umpire.

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