Baseball has been America’s national pastime for well over a century and a half. Yet it still provides long-time spectators with events that they have never seen before – nor will again. And sometimes a swing and a miss is not simply a strike.
In the ninth inning of Saturday night’s Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tilt, the Red Sox were threatening in a 6-2 game with the bases loaded and Christian Vazquez at the plate. Cam Bedrosian threw Vazquez a nasty slider, at which Christian swung wildly. Game over? Not so fast. The pitch hit the dirt behind home plate, and catcher Martin Maldonado was unable to snag it. The ball deflected off of Maldonado’s mitt and proceeded to continue all the way up to the top of the net protecting the fans behind the plate.
Two rules immediately came into play. 5.05(a)(2) of the 2017 Major League Baseball Rule Book states that:
The batter becomes a runner when the third strike called by an umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two outs.
Vazquez is allowed to move to first base on the wild pitch solely due to the second part of the rule. If there were only one out, Vazquez would have been declared the second out of the frame. In the context of the next rule, being declared out by the statute of 5.05(a)(2) would have prevented Vazquez from becoming a batter-runner.
The second rule in affect is 5.06(b)(4)(H) which deals with the three other runners and says:
Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance one base, if a ball, pitched to the batter, or thrown by the pitcher from his position on the pitcher’s plate to a base to catch a runner, goes into a stand or over or through a field fence or backstop. The ball is dead.
This rule also comes with an approved ruling:
When a wild pitch or passed ball goes through or by a the catcher, or deflects off the catcher, and goes directly into the dugout, stands, above the break, or any area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be one base. One base shall also be awarded if the pitcher while in contact with the rubber, throws to a base, and the throw goes directly into the stands or into any area where the ball is dead
If, however, the pitched or thrown ball goes through or by the catcher or through the fielder, and remains on the playing field, and is subsequently kicked or deflected into the dugout, stands, or other area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be two bases from position of runners at the time of the pitch or throw.
The codicil does not come into play with this particular event, as the ball upon deflection by the catcher took an immediate launch out of the field of play. Therefore, the awarding of only one base to each runner on base, and only one run scored. However, if the ball had gotten behind Maldonado and stayed on the field, and, while racing to pick up the ball, he accidentally punted it into the stands, the Red Sox would have ended up with two runners scoring, and runners on second and third.
The wild pitch would end Cam Bedrosian’s day on a low note. However, Blake Parker struck out the next batter, pinch-hitter Chris Young, to end the inning and the game in favor of the Angels. Bedrosian’s wicked wild pitch ended up being a mere footnote to the story.