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Carrasco Delivers an Illegal Pitch
by Rich Marazzi
The Mariners hosted the Indians on June 8, 2016. Kyle Seager was batting in the bottom of the fourth with a 1-2 count, two outs and the bases empty when he grounded out 3 unassisted. But the crew (Mike Muchlinski, John Hirschbeck, D.J. Reyburn and Bill Welke) met and, after about three minutes of discussion, correctly called an illegal pitch on Carlos Carrasco, who had quickly stepped back off the rubber while throwing home. An automatic “Ball” was properly called because there had been no runners on base. Seager then grounded out. During the crew discussion, Welke went into the dugout and talked to the official scorer to get the count right. To be honest, I was surprised it took the crew so long to make a decision regarding an illegal pitch that appeared obvious.
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There are two illegal pitches in baseball:
- When the pitcher makes a quick return pitch while the batter is not reasonably set in the batter’s box; and
- When a pitcher delivers the pitch with his pivot foot not in contact with the rubber.
In my opinion, Carrasco executed both types of illegal pitches with one pitch.
In both cases, it is a balk with a runner/runners on base. With no runners on base, a “Ball” is charged to the pitcher unless the batter reaches base safely on a hit, error, base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise. If a pitcher delivers an illegal pitch with runners on base it is a balk as stated. If the batter and all runners advance one base, the balk is nullified.
Pitching while not having the pivot foot in contact with the rubber is not as common as the quick pitch but it does occur at times.
The quick pitch usually occurs after the pitcher, in the set position with no runners on base, gets two strikes on the batter. Teams should scout all the “quick pitchers” for the purpose of protecting their hitters.