Thursday, April 1, 2021

Runners Passing Costs Dodgers Run on Opening Day

It took less than three innings for a baseball rules question to find its way to the UEFL inbox and umpire decision quandary takes us to Dodgers-Rockies game in Colorado with Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner combining for a runners passing play, depriving Los Angeles of an early run at Coors Field.

With one out and one on (R1) in the top of the 3rd inning, Dodgers batter Bellinger hits a fly ball to deep left field, off Rockies left fielder Raimel Tapia's glove, and over the wall for an apparent home run.

LA baserunner R1 Turner, however, stops watching the ball as Tapia attempts to catch it, and doesn't see the ball fall over the wall, similarly ignoring both the umpires' home run mechanic and Bellinger's own instruction that the ball cleared the outfield fence.

As a result of Turner's This is Not an April Fools' Joke play, the two Dodgers runners end up passing each other on the base path between first and second base, and the umpires invoke Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(9) ("Any runner is out when he passes a preceding runner before such runner is out") to declare Bellinger out, while allowing Turner to complete his free passage to home plate.

The official scoring on this play is an RBI single for Bellinger and the loss of a potential run for Los Angeles. The Rockies subsequently took a 2-1 lead shortly thereafter, and ultimately won the game.

For more detailed analysis and discussion on prior runners passing plays (including why the rule states that the trailing runner is responsible for passing, even if the lead runner was physically more "at fault"), see the following related label. Runners passing featured prominently in our 2020-2021 offseason discussion, including during a Boston-Tampa Bay Spring Training game on March 9, TMU college game on February 12 (also during a home run), and travel ball game we discussed on February 5.
Related Label: Passing Runners.


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