Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Stumble - Ems Win Northwest Championship on Balk-Off

The Class-A Short Season Eugene Emeralds won the 2018 Northwest League Championship Series on a walk-off balk against Spokane, the team's second title since 2016.

Ems won a championship on a walk-off balk.
For the crew of HP Umpire Ray Patchen, 1B Umpire Jeff Hamann, 2B Umpire Emma Charlesworth-Seiler, and 3B: A.J. Choc, it was one of the rarest plays in baseball, and a nearly unheard of way to decide the final game of a league championship series.

The Emeralds (Cubs minor league affiliate), for the record, won the series against the Spokane Indians (Cleveland's MiLB affiliate) three games-to-none after finishing the regular season in last place, 14 games under .500.

As we discovered in August when Dodgers pitcher Dylan Floro balked in Mariners baserunner Cameron Maybin for Seattle's walk-off win at Safeco Field, the balkoff—at least at the major league level—is rarer than a perfect game: 22 balk-offs vs 23 perfect games all-time.
Related PostWalk-Off Balk - Dodgers' Floro Does Too Much at Once (8/19/18).

As for Tuesday's Indians-Ems game to decide the Northwest League crown, the analysis is a lot simpler than in the Dodgers-Mariners game.

Eugene's mascot celebrates the win.
The Play: With two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning, Oregon's Emeralds already having scored a run in the frame to tie the game at two, Indians pitcher Emmanuel Clase began his delivery to Emeralds batter Nelson Velazquez, but stumbled off the pitcher's plate while failing to throw a legal pitch, immediately ruled a balk by HP Umpire Patchen.

The Rule: In a similar vein to our Salt Lake Bees pitcher who fell off a mound in 2017, the relevant rule is 6.02(a)'s "It is a balk when—The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery." In more practical terms, it's a balk because the pitcher stumbled off the mound.
Related PostBalk - Pitcher Blown Off Mound, OBR Adopts Hybrid Rule (5/7/17).

Wrap: Spokane Indians vs. Eugene Emeralds (Northwest League), 9/11/18 | Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Eugene Emeralds win Northwest League title on a balk-off (EUG - Left Ear Only)


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