Lodged Ball Overturned by Replay
The A’s hosted the Rangers on July 22nd. In the bottom of the second, the A’s had Sky Bolt on second base and Tony Kemp on first with one out when Vimael Machin hit a drive to right field. The ball got stuck under the wall, but Rangers’ right fielder Elier Hernandez played the ball. Bolt and Kemp reached the plate.
Rangers’ manager Chris Woodward challenged the play claiming the ball was lodged and all runners should be awarded two bases. The Replay Official determined that the ball was lodged and Woodward’s appeal was upheld. Bolt was allowed to score while Kemp was returned to third base.
- The outcome of any potential lodged ball is subject to replay review and further clarification of rule 5.06 (b) (4) (f) which governs what should be considered a lodged ball. The rule reads, Runners are awarded two bases if a fair batted ball sticks in the fence, scoreboard, shrubbery or vines. If the outcome can be determined by review, the ruling shall stand regardless of action on the field. The action on the field including the decision of a fielder to raise his hands to ask for umpire review of a lodged ball or to play the ball are still important as replay may not always have a definitive angle. Baseballs that disappear behind a tarp or wall (even momentarily) are to be treated as lodged balls.
- It should be noted that the two-base award is made from the position of the runners at the start of play which is when the pitcher is in his motion to deliver the pitch.
- Even though a fielder plays a lodged ball, it is still a two-base award if it is judged by the umpires or the Replay Official that the ball is lodged.
- A ball is considered lodged, if in the judgment of the umpire the natural trajectory of the flight of the ball is interrupted long enough to affect further play.
- If a ball stops rolling, it’s possible it stopped because it was momentarily lodged for some reason and it affected further play.
- There can be a situation where a rolling ball stops abruptly. But, just because a ball stays under a wall doesn’t mean it’s lodged. The bottom of the wall determination will be made if it sticks. The pads are designed to be high enough for the ball to go under without sticking. But sometimes those pads slip down, and umpires do get lodged balls there. Just because the ball stays, does not necessarily mean it’s lodged
- How easily a ball can be retrieved by the fielder does not factor in the rule. In the above play, it appeared that Hernandez was able to easily retrieve the ball but that is irrelevant.
- Outfielders are instructed to put their arms in the air when they think the ball is lodged but that does not officially kill the play. Only the umpire can stop play when he calls “Time.” Because, of this, runners should continue to run until the umpires call “Time” and fielders should continue to play the ball after they raise their arms.
- The call can be subjective. Take what happened in a March 24, 2017, spring training game between the Mets and Astros at Port St. Lucie. The Astros’ A.J. Reed hit a deep drive that landed in the dirt at the base of the wall in center field. The ball was clearly visible, but Mets’ outfielder Yoenis Cespedes put up his hands to signal it was unplayable. Reed easily made it to second base and after some prompting, cruised home for an inside-the-park home run while Cespedes stood by waiting for the umpire to assess the situation. Second base umpire CB Bucknor went out to center field and easily rolled the ball away from the wall to show that it wasn’t lodged. The message to Cespedes was that he should have played the ball. Cespedes claimed the ball was wedged but Bucknor did not see it that way.
- Minor league umpires and teams do not have the luxury of the replay. As stated above, it’s good practice for runners to continue to run even if an outfielder raises his arms to indicate a lodged ball. The base coaches should keep the runners moving and ask questions, if necessary, after the play ends.
- From the feed I was able to get, the broadcasters made no mention of the lodged ball, and the placement of the runners.
To view a compilation of more “lodged baseballs” plays click here.
Rules consultant/analyst: D’backs, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, Bally Sports, ESPN, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.