Monday, September 18, 2023

Houston's Thrown Glove and the Two-Base Award

Astros pitcher Framber Valdez struggled to field a soft ground ball by Royals batter Logan Porter and threw wildly to first base, Houston 1B Jose Abreu throwing his glove to stop the ball. Although Abreu's thrown glove struck Valdez's thrown ball, keeping it on the infield, HP Umpire Derek Thomas and 3B Umpire John Libka both saw a rules infraction and 2B Umpire James Hoye's crew met after the play to determine base awards.

Official Baseball Rule 5.06(b)(4) specifies base awards and indicates that each runner (including the batter-runner) may advance without liability to be put out: "(C) Three bases, if a fielder deliberately throws their glove at and touches a fair ball" or "(E) Two bases, if a fielder deliberately throws their glove at and touches a thrown ball."

The rule states that in both situations, "The ball is in play, and the award is made from the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched."

Replays indicate that as Valdez's wild throw approached the vicinity of first base, 1B Umpire Angel Hernandez was concentrating on the potential play at the base and thus wasn't looking at the infraction as it occurred (this is a proper mechanic from the first base umpire), 2B Umpire Hoye was similarly looking at second base for a potential play on R1, and thus 3B Umpire Libka and HP Umpire Thomas had the call.

Libka, however, appeared to signal "Time" while Thomas simply pointed at the thrown glove/ball contact—Thomas' mechanic is correct as the ball is in play on such a violation.

After the play, the crew determined that batter-runner Porter would be placed at second base because he had not yet reached first base at the time of the glove/ball touching while lead runner R1 Nick Loftin would receive third base...which replays indicate was incorrect, as Loftin was in contact with second base at the time of the ball touch occurred.

For what it's worth, the relevant rule for a pitched ball is OBR 5.06(b)(3), which awards runners (but not batters) one base without liability to be put out when "A fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with their cap, mask or any part of their uniform detached from its proper place on their person."


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