Thursday, August 15, 2019

Runner Struck by Batted Ball Behind Infielder Not Out

Home plate umpire Greg Gibson reversed a dead ball out call in Kansas City after Cardinals batter Randy Arozarena's ground ball hit St. Louis runner Yadier Molina between second and third, explaining to Royals Manager Ned Yost that because the batted ball struck a runner after the ball had already passed all infielders, Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(7), which ordinarily holds that a runner is out when struck by a batted ball, did not apply. Why?

Thanks to Umpire-Empire for this Ask the UEFL submission.

The Rule: OBR 5.09(b)(7) states that a "runner is out when—He is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has gone through, or by, an infielder and no other infielder has a chance to make a play on the ball. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance."

All infielders are playing inside the runner.
When the infield plays in and the ball bounds past all infielders before striking the runner, as was the case in Kansas City, Rule 5.09(b)(7) does not apply to the situation. Had an infielder been positioned even-with or behind the runner when the runner was touched by the batted ball, the "Time" & out call would be the proper ruling (as long as the umpire deemed that the infielder(s) had a play on the ball).

GG explains to Yost his basis for reversal.
The Recovery: Gibson relied on Rule 8.03(c) to correct that which he knew was wrong the moment he called it: "If the umpires consult after a play and change a call that had been made, then they have the authority to take all steps that they may deem necessary, in their discretion, to eliminate the results and consequences of the earlier call that they are reversing."

Gibby explained to Yost the error of his initial "Time" call and corrected the mistake by calling R2 Molina safe and placing each Cardinals baserunner at their next base, keeping the bases loaded and scoring one run for the visiting team while ruling that Molina—not exactly known for his speed—would most likely have remained at third base had the original call been the ultimate one.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Batted ball strikes runner between bases, call changed (CCS)


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