Controversy without consequence for Orioles as Showalter argues for double play on rundown

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, left, argues with umpires about a call on a rundown involving New York Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 6, 2018, in New York.
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, left, argues with umpires about a call on a rundown involving New York Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 6, 2018, in New York. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

NEW YORK — Instant replay in baseball has removed much of the time-honored tradition of managers shouting at a group of umpires after a controversial decision, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter got his fill of arguing Friday night at Yankee Stadium.

And even if it didn't impact the game, it turns out he was right.


With runners on first and third base in the sixth inning and reliever Richard Bleier protecting a 3-2 lead, the crafty left-hander got Neil Walker to tap a sinker softly down the third base line. Bleier fielded it and chased Giancarlo Stanton back up the third base line, starting a 1-5-2 rundown that retired Stanton.

Orioles shortstop Manny Machado homered in his first two at-bats Friday to jump start a season that was starting in a lot of ways to mirror his struggles of 2017.

But as catcher Caleb Joseph chased Stanton back toward third base, catcher Gary Sánchez advanced from first all the way to third and was on the bag. So Stanton ran past third base without tagging the bag, and Joseph chased Stanton beyond the base into foul territory, tagging Sánchez standing on the base on the way.


Showalter lobbied extensively for both runners to be out, either under the auspices that they both occupied third base at once or that Sánchez overtook Stanton. After the umpires conferred, they left Sánchez at third base and Showalter argued his case some more.

After the game, crew chief Jerry Meals told a pool reporter that the umpires erred in making the call the way they did. Third base umpire Ron Kulpa called Stanton out for leaving the base path.

"As soon as Stanton ran by him into foul territory there, [Kulpa] had him out for abandoning his effort, which gave Sanchez the base so when they tagged him, he wasn't out," Meals said. "That was our explanation on the field. We were incorrect. The ruling is when a runner from second, in that situation, when a runner from second has occupied third and the lead runner goes beyond third base to the outfield or wherever, runs past it, the interpretation is the runner from second is past that runner, the lead runner, so he is out automatically without being tagged. Sánchez should have been out automatically for passing Stanton. Then, Stanton had the right to come back and touch third before being tagged or be called out for abandoning his effort."

As it was called, Meals said, Kulpa calling Stanton out of the base paths meant Sánchez was safe when Joseph tagged him on the way past the base. But the correct interpretation of the rule would have made him out automatically once Stanton passed him going the other way.

MLB Rule 5.09 codifies all the ways a runner can make an out, including passing a runner. Clause (b)(9) stipulates such a play as follows, with the following example, which suits this almost perfectly:

Orioles prospect Branden Kline returned to the mound Thursday after nearly three years out with elbow injuries.

"Runners on second base and third base with one out. The runner from third base (i.e., the lead runner) makes an advance toward home and is caught in a rundown between third base and home plate. Believing the lead runner will be tagged out, the runner at second base (i.e. the trailing runner) advances to third base. Before being tagged, the lead runner runs back to and beyond third base toward left field. At this time, the trailing runner has passed the lead runner as a result of the lead runner's actions. As a result, the trailing runner is out and third base is unoccupied. The lead runner is entitled to third base if he returns to touch it before he is out, see Rule 5.06(a)(1), unless he is declared out for abandoning the bases."

One batter later, Ronald Torreyes grounded out to third base to make the matter moot.

Once the game went to extra innings, the Yankees had cause to take up with the umpires over a rule interpretation, though they didn't do it in a fiery display like Showalter.

With runners on second and third and two outs in the 11th inning, Orioles reliever Mychal Givens yanked a slider for a wild pitch past Joseph. But Joseph sprung to action and retrieved the ball, flipping it to Givens as he slid in to receive the ball at home plate. While sliding, Givens blocked the plate, and his legs prevented Gregorius from tagging the plate before Givens tagged him.

And though a recent rule change prevented catchers from blocking the plate, the relevant rule — Rule 6.01 — says nothing of pitchers covering the plate, and Givens was making a play to catch the ball.

The play was reviewed and upheld, with the replay officials finding no violation.

"There was no blocking the plate," Meals said, saying that decision is ultimately up to the replay reviewer either way. "He, in that situation, the player is deemed to be [occupying] the area to save the ball and/or has the ball. … If he's going to receive the ball in that situation, then he's allowed to occupy that space if he's in the act of receiving it."


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