Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Teachable - Two Runners One Base is a Rowdy Rundown

During Monday's Cubs-White Sox Spring Training game, Chicago-NL baserunner R1 Jake Marisnick and R2 Cameron Maybin occupied second base at the same time during a rundown, leading to a double-tag. Who is out and who is safe? What's the rule?

The play occurred with one out and two on (R1, R2) in the top of the fourth inning and began with R2 Maybin picked off between second and third base. During the ensuing rundown, Maybin retreated to second base as R1 Marisnick advanced from first base, both runners eventually standing on second base as the White Sox's Yoan Moncada arrived to apply tags.

The Official Baseball Rule governing two runners on a base at the same time is OBR 5.06(a)(2), which states, "Two runners may not occupy a base, but if, while the ball is alive, two runners are touching a base, the following runner shall be out when tagged and the preceding runner is entitled to the base, unless Rule 5.06(b)(2) applies," as well as OBR 5.06(b)(2) for the unique circumstance of a force play situation: "If a runner is forced to advance by reason of the batter becoming a runner and two runners are touching a base to which the following runner is forced, the following runner is entitled to the base and the preceding runner shall be out when tagged or when a fielder possesses the ball and touches the base to which such preceding runner was forced."

Back in Arizona, the key for 2B Umpire Gabe Morales is his pre-pitch read: knowing that on a pickoff play, Rule 5.06(a)(2) will apply (preceding runner safe / trailing runner out) while on a batted ball force such as a ground ball, Rule 5.06(b)(2) (preceding runner out / trailing runner safe) will apply.

Here, R2 Maybin is tagged while both runners are occupying the base, so as the preceding runner, Maybin is safe. Then, R1 Marisnick is tagged—but key to officiating this play is observing that at the time R1 Marisnick is tagged, Maybin has stepped off second base, so Marisnick is now safe when tagged for being the only runner in contact with the base.

Maybin, still safe, is ultimately thrown out at third (officially caught stealing), but had he slid into third base prior to being tagged, he would be safe and the proper call, by rule, would be safe all around on the double steal.

Although U2 Morales improperly signals Marisnick out (having believed that Maybin was still in contact with second base when Marisnick was tagged), he corrects his call, Marisnick stays on the base, and after crew consultation, the runners are placed appropriately: Maybin out on the tag as called by 3B Umpire Dan Bellino and Marisnick safe at second.


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