Sunday, June 13, 2021

Last Time By Touch Failure Costs Texas on Base Appeal

When 3B Umpire Nic Lentz declared Rangers runner Adolis Garcia out at third on Los Angeles' base touch appeal, he invoked Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(2) and the 'last time by' principle for base running to give the Dodgers its second successful base touch appeal in less than a week. Unlike Tuesday's game in Pittsburgh, however, this nullified run did not matter as Texas ultimately won the contest, 12-1.

With one out and Garcia on second base, Rangers batter Joey Gallo hit a 0-1 slider from Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer into the outfield. Perhaps thinking right fielder Zach McKinstry had caught the ball (it bounced), Garcia first touched third base before retreating toward second without retouching third, and finally running home to score, also without touching third base. The Dodgers appealed and 3B Umpire Lentz ruled Garcia out for a violation of OBR 5.09(c)(2): "With the ball in play, while advancing or returning to a base, they fail to touch each base in order before they, or a missed base, is tagged."

To understand why Garcia's baserunning was illegal requires an understanding of two points: passing a base and the last time by principle.

Passing a Base
: As we've discussed several times, pursuant to the MLB Umpire Manual, "A runner is considered to have passed a base if they both feet on the ground beyond the back edge of the base or beyond the edge of the base in the direction to which he is advancing." The accompanying annotation of Garcia near third base indicates that after initially passing third base (and touching it), Garcia retreated back toward second and un-passed (backward/retreated) third base, meaning he was now positioned prior to third. Following this action, Garcia again passed (forward/advanced) third base en route to home plate, only this time, without touching third base.

Last Time By
: Having established that Garcia passed third base, retreated to a position prior to third base, and then passed third base again, we turn to the "last time by" principle. The MLBUM states the following regarding a runner who touches a base in advancing, but misses retouching the base on the runner's way back to a prior base, only to again touch the base in advancing once again: "If the runner retouches first and then second in advancing to the awarded base, the runner’s failure to touch second base in returning to first is “corrected” under the theory that touching the base the “last time by” corrects any previous error."

In other words, this is what happened: Garcia touched and ran past third base. After passing third base, Garcia retreated back toward second base and in doing so un-passed third base without retouching it. After establishing his position prior to third base (on the second base side of the bag), Garcia again passed third base, only this time, he failed to touch the base.

Under "last time by," Garcia was properly declared out on appeal for failing to touch third base on his last time by the base, which supersedes the touching action that occurred prior to that last time by act. Had Garcia touched third base on his way to home plate (his last time by), he would have effectively nullified his illegal failure to touch the base on his brief retreat toward second base and rendered the Dodgers' appeal meritless, for a runner's base touch legality depends on what such a runner does on their last time by.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Runner's failure to touch 3B on last time by nullifies run after appeal (CCS)


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