Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hit in Elbow Fri, Jordan Baker Denies Lean-In HBP Sat

Umpire Jordan Baker called Josh Donaldson back to bat on a HBP-that-wasn't when Donaldson appeared to place his left ("front") elbow into the path of a pitched baseball during the Mariners-Blue Jays game.

Baker calls Donaldson back to the plate.
On the very first pitch to lead off the bottom of the third inning, Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma threw inside to Blue Jays batter Josh Donaldson, who appeared to place his left arm in the path of the pitched ball, resulting in the ball hitting Donaldson's elbow. For Donaldson, it was a convenient pitch—a benign 70 mph curveball that strayed from its intended spot—and replays indicate he made little attempt to avoid the ball and a similarly negligible attempt to actually hit the pitch.

Although a non-swinging batter is usually awarded first base when he is hit by a pitched ball, this was not the case Saturday as HP Umpire Baker invoked Official Baseball Rule 5.05(b)(2)(B), which is a subsection of the rule awarding the batter first base in the event of a hit-by-pitch:
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: (2) He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (A) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (B) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.
With Donaldson clearly making no attempt to avoid the ball, Baker properly enforced OBR 5.05(b)(2)(B) and ordered Donaldson back to the plate to continue his at bat with the count 1-0 ("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"). Replays indicate the pitch had a horizontal px value of -1.179, meaning it was clearly off the plate and out of the zone, but had it been in the zone, Donaldson would have been charged a strike. To be clear, Donaldson's infraction was not that he leaned into the pitch, but that he made no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.

Baker perhaps was unamused by Donaldson's act after Baker himself was drilled in the left arm by a foul ball during Friday night's contest. That line drive off the bat of Nelson Cruz left an imprint of the baseball's stitch marks on Baker's arm, which was wrapped prior to Saturday's game. It was Baker's second time being struck by a foul ball this season, as he was hit in the hip at third base by another line drive in April.

Alternate Link: On hit-to-arm, Baker rules a dead ball strike and order Donaldson back to bat (TOR)


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