Runner Creates a Time Play by Eliminating the Inning-Ending Force Out
The Cards hosted the Pirates on June 14th when what might be the Ruleball play of the season occurred in the first game of a double header. In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Redbirds had the bases loaded and two outs. Yadier Molina was on third, Edmundo Sosa on second, and Nolan Gorman occupied first when Paul Goldschmidt, facing JT Brubaker, hit a ground ball to Bucs’ shortstop Diego Castillo who tossed to second baseman Yu Chang for the apparent inning-ending force out. But second base umpire Dan Iasoggna called Gorman safe, who instead of sliding into second, ran through the base like he was legging-out an infield hit.
Chang then ran at Gorman who was now between second and third. When Chang saw Sosa break for the plate, he threw home to catcher Jason Delay. Sosa was now hung-up between third and home, but he slid safely back to third. The throw then went to the middle of the infield and back to the plate where Sosa was called out by umpire Clint Vandrak for running out of the baseline.
- This was a heads-up play by Gorman. He knew if he was safe at second base the inning would not end in a force because once he got to second base safely, he was not forced to the next base. He was also aware that by RUNNING THROUGH THE BASE he had a better chance to beat the throw. Gorman was not concerned about being tagged between second and third. He was willing to give himself up for the purpose of allowing Molina to score.
- Because Molina crossed the plate long before Sosa ran out of the baseline for the third out, his run scored.
- This was smart Ruleball on the part of Gorman and the Cardinals. I have talked and written about this running tactic many times over the years, but it’s seldom executed because it is unorthodox to the way a runner approaches a base in an inning-ending out, and there is also lack of understanding of the elimination of the force as to how it affects a run scoring at the end of an inning,
- The first base coach can play an important role in such a play with two outs and the bases loaded by reminding the runner on first base to run through the base to beat the throw, especially if the throw is coming from third base or deep in the hole at shortstop.
- BTW- Once Delay with the ball made a move toward Sosa, he now had a restricted baseline. It was a straight line to the plate and Sosa was not allowed to exceed three-feet in either direction of that line.
Remember, no run can score when the inning ends in a force out or when the batter-runner makes the third out before reaching first base.
1. Let’s say a team has runners on first and third and two outs. The runner on first can take an extended lead to induce a pick to first base. The runner then gets into a prolonged rundown. Meanwhile the runner on third breaks for the plate and scores before the runner in the rundown is tagged for the third out.
Watch the video below. You will see the White Sox Tim Anderson and Zack Collins execute this perfectly in a May 31, 2021, game against Cleveland.
2. Another possible scenario is runners on second and third and two outs. The batter hits a ground ball to the third baseman or shortstop. The runner on second gets close to the fielder and baits the fielder into making a tag play on him. If the fielder bites, the runner back pedals or changes direction. By the time he is tagged in the rundown, the runner from third had time to cross the plate and scores because the inning did not end in a force or with the batter-runner making the third out before reaching first base.
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.