How Would You Rule? –XIII
You are presented with a situation that actually occurred or might occur in a game. To play along, decide how you would rule or score. Then click the button to find out what either the umpires or the official scorer actually decided.
Ball Four?
Situation: In a 1906 game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs, Pirates player-manager Fred Clarke occupied 3B with the bases loaded and a 3-and-1 count on the batter.

When the batter took the next pitch, the plate umpire said nothing. Assuming it was ball four, as did the batter and catcher, Clarke trotted home. As he touched the plate, the umpire suddenly cried, "Strike two!" He explained that he'd been unable to give the call right away because something had been caught in his throat.

Reference: The Rules of Baseball: An Anecdotal Look at the Rules of Baseball and How They Came To Be, David Nemec(1994)

Fred Clarke

Batter Kicks Foul Ball
Suppose the batter swings and ticks a low curve. The ball trickles down the 1B line in four territory. The batter breaks for 1st as the ball begins to swerve toward fair ground. It is just an inch outside the line when the batter kicks the ball toward the stands.

Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi (1980)
Who Gets the Save?
Which of the following pitchers is credited with a Save under MLB rules? In each case, the pitcher is the last one for his team.
  1. Enters in the top of the 8th with his team trailing 5-4. Holds the opposition scoreless for two innings. His team scores two runs in the bottom of the 9th.
  2. Enters in the 9th with two outs, his team leading 6-2, and two runners on base. Three runs score before he records the final out.
  3. Enters at the start of the 9th with his team leading 6-2 and sets the opposition down 1-2-3.
  4. Enters at the start of the 8th with his team leading 6-2 and holds the opposition to two runs during the final three innings.
  5. Enters at the start of the 7th with his team leading 6-2 and holds the opposition to one run the rest of the way.

Reference: So You Think You Know Baseball? A Fan's Guide to the Official Rules,
Peter E. Meltzer (2013)

Mariano Rivera
AL Pitcher Moves to LF
July 15, 1993: Seattle Mariners @ Boston Red Sox

Situation: Bottom of the 8th, two outs. Mike Greenwell at the plate for the Red Sox with Billy Hatcher on 1st.

Mariners manager Lou Piniella puts P Dave Nelson in LF and brings in Dennis Powell to pitch to Greenwell. The skipper's intention is to bring Nelson back to the mound for the next hitter.
At the time, Marc Newfeld was batting 6th for the Mariners as the DH.

What are the consequences, if any, from Piniella's move for Seattle's lineup?

Reference: So You Think You Know Baseball? A Fan's Guide to the Official Rules,
Peter E. Meltzer (2013)
Single on a Balk Pitch
May 5, 2015: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays

Situation: Top of 2nd; Gregorio Petit on 2B with two outs and Marco Estrada pitching to Jacoby Ellsbury

  1. Ellsbury singles to LF scoring Petit on a pitch on which Estrada is called for a balk. What happens?

  2. Suppose the runner, Petit, remains at 2nd, thinking the ball is dead because of the balk, while Ellsbury reaches 1st. What would be the ruling then?

Reference: "Baseball Rules Corner," Rich Marazzi, Baseball Digest (March/April 2016)

Walk-off Single
August 9, 2015: Cincinnati Reds @ Arizona Diamondbacks

Situation: Bottom of 10th, score tied 3-3, bases loaded with one out.


Chris Owings hits a liner over the head of drawn-in CF Billy Hamilton. Owings touches 1st and Paul Goldschmidt, the runner on 3rd, touches home plate. The umpires immediately head for the 3rd base dugout. The runner who was on 1st, Jake Lamb, never reaches 2nd but instead comes back to join the celebration with Owings. Also David Peralta, the runner who was on 2nd, also joins the party and never touches 3rd.
Meanwhile, Reds 2B Brandon Phillips runs out to CF and asks a groundskeeper to retrieve the ball for him. Phillips then throws to Hamilton, who steps on 2B to appeal Lamb. Hamilton then throws to Eugenio Suarez at 1B, who throws the ball back to Hamilton, who runs and touches 3B to register the appeal there.
While all this is going on, the umpires huddle near the 3B dugout. Reds manager Bryan Price argues that the run should not count and the inning should be over with a double play.
Reference: "Baseball Rules Corner," Rich Marazzi, Baseball Digest (Nov./Dec. 2015)

Rolls 3rd Strike toward Mound

Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS: Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox

Situation: Bottom of the 9th, two outs and no one on base.

White Sox C A. J. Pierzynski is at bat with two strikes on him. A. J. swings and misses at a low pitch from P Kelvim Escobar. C Josh Paul either catches the pitch just before it touches the ground or traps it just after. Home plate umpire Doug Eddings swings his arm out as if to signal strike three but makes no verbal signal and no out call. Paul rolls the ball back to the mound. After turning briefly toward the dugout, Pierzynski runs to 1B without a throw.


Reference: So You Think You Know Baseball? A Fan's Guide to the Official Rules, Peter E. Meltzer (2013)

Two Runners on Third

July 1, 2015: the Mets hosted the Cubs.

Situation: The Mets are batting in the bottom of the 8th with one out and Daniel Murphy on 2nd and Ruben Tejada on 3rd.

Darrell Ceciliani attempts a suicide squeeze but misses the bunt. Tejada gets caught between 3rd and home. C Miguel Montero chases him back to 3rd. However, Murphy is standing on 3rd. Montero tags Murphy, then tags Tejada, who wandered beyond 3rd base a few feet down the LF line.


Reference: "Baseball Rules Corner," Rich Marazzi, Baseball Digest, September/October 2015
Batter Swings at Pitch That Hits Him

Situation: The bases are loaded with two outs in the bottom of the 9th of a tie game.

The P throws a breaking ball that breaks down and in to the batter, who swings at the pitch. The ball hits the batter's foot and bounces past the catcher. The runner from 3rd crosses the plate as the batter takes 1st with no play from the catcher.


Reference: So You Think You Know Baseball? A Fan's Guide to the Official Rules,
Peter Meltzer (2013)


Runner Assists Another Runner

Situation: Runners on 1st and 2nd

The batter singles to LF. After the first runner rounds 3rd, he's caught in a rundown, but the C throws wildly into LF. The runner heads for the plate but slips on a muddy spot and falls. The runner from 1B comes up behind him, helps him regain his feet, and both cross the plate. Is this legal?


Reference: Knotty Problems of Baseball, The Sporting News (1979)
Batted Ball Hits Umpire

Game 6 of the 1998 ALCS between the Indians and Yankees

Situation: In the top of the 5th, Kenny Lofton of Cleveland is on 1st and Enrique Wilson on 3rd.

Omar Vizquel hits a shot up the middle that strikes Ted Hendry, the 2B umpire, who was standing on the infield side of second base.


Reference: So You Think You Know Baseball?
A Fan's Guide to the Official Rules
, Peter E. Meltzer (2013)

Kenny Lofton
Wild Throw into Dugout

Situation: Runner on 1B

The batter lifts a high flyball to RF. While the runner goes halfway between 1B and 2B, the RF drops the ball as the batter rounds 1B. The RF then fires the ball to 1B but the ball goes into the dugout. At the time of the throw, both runners were between 1B and 2B.

What bases are the runners awarded?

Reference: "Baseball Rules Corner," Rich Marazzi, Baseball Digest Mar/Apr 2015