June 3, 2020

That Time Jean Segura Stole 1B, Really!

That Time Jean Segura Stole 1B, Really!

Segura Almost Steals Second Base Twice in the Same Inning

Before you read the report below, I would suggest you watch it first. After viewing the play, read the report and watch the video again. There’s much to digest here.

The full MLB Youtube Video here: https://youtu.be/HZM1JcJwo9E

The Play

Can a runner steal the same base twice in the same inning with only one plate appearance? Thanks to one of the wackiest plays you will ever see, this almost occurred on April 19, 2013, at Miller Park where the Milwaukee Brewers hosted the Chicago Cubs.

Brewers’ shortstop Jean Segura reached on an infield hit to open the bottom of the eighth. After he stole second, Ryan Braun drew a walk. With Rickie Weeks batting, Segura was caught off second by Cubs’ pitcher Shawn Camp, who started a rundown between second and third. While this was going on, Braun advanced to second base. Segura and Braun both wound up on second base and were both tagged by Cubs’ third baseman Luis Valbuena. Second base umpire Phil Cuzzi properly ruled Braun out per rule 5.06 (a) (2). Segura, the lead runner, had the right to the base because the runners were not forced to advance at the time of the pitch. It appeared that Valbuena then tagged-out Segura, who was off the base on the first base side, but no call was made.

Thinking he was out, Segura started trotting back to the dugout. Brewers’ first base coach Garth Iorg, pointed to Segura directing him to first base. Cubs’ second baseman Darwin Barney got the ball from Valbuena and chased Segura to first but could not make a play. A couple of pitches later, Segura attempted to seal second base but was called out by Cuzzi,

Several questions are triggered from this play. Was it legal for Segura to return to first base? Could a runner run the bases in reverse? Did Segura abandon the base path? If Segura was safe at second base when he was called out, would he get credit for his second stolen base of the same base he had previously pilfered?

Ruleball Comment

  1. Let’s start with rule 5.09(b)(10) that reads, “Any runner is out when after he has acquired legal possession of a base, he runs the bases in reverse order for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game.”

Segura obviously was not making a travesty of the game and there was no intent to confuse the defense. He simply thought he was out when he headed toward first base. And by rule, Segura had every right to return to a base he previously occupied. By returning and occupying first base, Segura removed himself from the liability of being put out. If he was tagged between first and second by Barney, he would have been out. But once he arrived at first base, he had legal right to the base.

  1. Replays indicated that Segura was tagged off second base by Valbuena before returning to first, but Cuzzi did not see it that way or did not see it all. If Segura was tagged off the base, the Cubs would have pulled off an unconventional double play.
  2. You can also make the argument that Segura could have been ruled out for abandonment under rule 5.09 (b) (2) It reads, “Any runner is out after touching first base, he leaves the base path, obviously abandoning his effort to touch the next base” Segura’s lack of urgency to get to the base certainly indicated he believed he was out. But it’s possible the umpires ruled that Segura shifted gears in a reasonable amount of time in his approach to first base. This of course would be umpire judgment.  Because Segura had the right to return to first base, umpires need to be patient before charging such runner with abandonment.
  3. You would think that “touching the next base,” would be the base beyond the one a runner occupies in his advance to home plate. In the above play, “touching the next base” was first base.
  4. When the smoke cleared, Segura was on first with one out. He attempted to steal second again but was gunned down by Cubs’ catcher Welington Castillo. If Segura was successful, he would have stolen second base twice in the same inning with only one plate appearance.  And if you’re wondering if Segura would get credit for two stolen bases (of second base) if he was successful the second time, the answer is yes because there would be no other way to explain his advance from first to second.

See Official Scoring rule 9.07

In the above play, let’s say that Braun was not tagged until Segura exited second base on the first base side. If that happened, Braun should be called out for passing Segura because Braun, the trail runner, ended-up in front of Segura who was the lead or preceding runner.

Braun did the proper thing advancing to second base when Segura was caught in the rundown. But he could have physically pushed Segura toward third base to avoid the two runners on the same base situation or he could have retreated himself to first if he saw that Segura had safely returned to second base. By keeping the play alive, the offensive team might have picked up an obstruction call or the defensive team could have made an errant throw.

  1. Segura never should have vacated the second base bag until he was sure who Cuzzi had called out. The bases coaches should be actively involved whenever two runners are tagged on the same base.
  2. In my opinion, to combat the two runners on the same base scenario, if a runner observes that a teammate is occupying a base he is attempting to advance to, the runner who is between bases should get into a rundown, or stay in a rundown.  Allowing two runners to be tagged on the same base can create a possible double play if the wrong runner exits the base which should have occurred in the above play.

 Chances are rule 5.09 (b) (10) was enacted because of the antics of Germany Schaefer, a free-spirited infielder who played with several teams between 1901-1918. On Aug. 4, 1911, with Schaefer playing for the Washington Senators against the

Chicago White Sox, he reached first base in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game with teammate Clyde Milan on third. Schaefer stole second, hoping to give Milan a chance to break home, but the White Sox catcher Fred Payne did not bite. So, Schaefer tried going in the opposite direction. He took a lead off second base toward first and stole first base on the next pitch. While White Sox manager Hugh Duffy argued, Schaefer tried to steal second again and got into a rundown which was his original intent to give Milan a chance to try for home. But Milan was nailed at the plate.

 Didn’t someone once say, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?” 

Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant:  Blue Jays, Brewers, Cardinals, D’backs, Dodgers, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, the FOX Regional Sports Networks, ESPN, YES, and White Sox TV

Watch Lloyd Moseby Take 2B Twice on the Same Play

MLB Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/vhKjzD3pO2E

Don't strike out!

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