Play No. 1
The Blue Jays and Angels played in Anaheim on May 26th. In the bottom of the sixth, the Angels had Matt Duffy on third and Max Stassi on first with one out when Jared Walsh hit a ground ball to Cavan Biggio. The Blue Jays’ first baseman stepped on first to retire Walsh then fired to shortstop Bo Bichette who tagged Max Stassi for the inning-ending double play as Duffy headed home.
Plate umpire John Libka ruled that the out at second base occurred before Duffy crossed the plate. Therefore, Duffy’s run did not score.
Angels’ manager Joe Maddon challenged the “Time Play” claiming that Duffy crossed the plate before Stassi was tagged out at second base. But the Replay Official could not definitively determine that Duffy touched the plate prior to the out occurring at second base. Libka’s ruling stood and the run did not score.
At the time, the Angels trailed 5-2. If Duffy had scored, the inning would have ended with the score 5-3 in a game the Jays would win, 6-3.
- It was a very close call and difficult to overturn
- This should not, however, have been a close play. Duffy did not run hard THROUGH THE PLATE, and he looked back at the play which further slowed his dash to the plate.
- On the other side of the ball, the play was subject to criticism as well. Was Biggio aware that if the inning ends in a force play, or if the batter-runner makes the third out before reaching first base, no run can score?
- In my opinion, Biggio had time to make the 3-6-3 DP and have the inning end with the batter-runner (Walsh) making the third out at first base. In that case, the “Time Play” would not have been an issue. His second option might have been to check the runner on third after stepping on first base.
- This is an excellent play for teams to show their players on all levels because mental errors were made on both sides of the ball.
- I also question the positioning of Libka, the plate umpire. Some might call his actions late play recognition. It appears he might have been positioning for a play at the plate on the third base side of the plate following the out at first base. Then he did not make the adjustment for the “Time Play” alignment which is to get several feet behind the point of the plate so he can see the tag on the trail runner and the runner crossing the plate. Also, Libka should have emphatically signaled whether or not the run scored. I saw no signal. I assume Libka made some kind of signal not seen in the clip indicating no run scores which prompted the challenge by Maddon.
- Because it is seldom that a “Time Play” occurs on a 3-3-6, in my opinion it caught Libka by surprise.
Play No. 2
The Braves hosted the Cubs on April 28th. In the top of the second the Cubs had Nico Hoerner on first and Alfonso Rivas on third and two outs. Rafael Ortega was batting with a 1-1 count facing Kyle Wright.
Wright threw a pick to first base and Hoerner was caught in a pickle. During an extended rundown, Rivas crossed the plate before Hoerner was retired. Plate umpire Quinn Wolcott scored the run.
- Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson and first baseman Matt Olson in executing the rundown, paid no attention to Rivas, the runner on third who scampered home.
- It’s apparent these players dd not have an understanding of a “Time Play.”
- It also appeared that Hoerner had such an extended lead that he invited the throw to the base for the purpose of initiating the rundown and the “Time Play.” From my corner, this is sound baseball because I believe most infielders are unaware of the “Time Play” rule and would pay no attention to the runner going home. They will play the runner in the rundown for the third out.
The Braves and Mets played at Citi Field on May 2nd. In the top of the sixth the Braves had Ozzie Albies on third and Travis d’Arnaud on second and one out when Adam Duvall flied to Brandon Nimmo in center field. Both runners tagged-up. The throw went to third base where d’Arnaud was called out for the third out but not before Albies had scored.
Plate ump Chad Fairchild made the ruling.
- Whether or not you agree that d’Arnaud made the proper decision by going to third, he had the presence to lengthen the play and provide more time for Albies to score by back pedaling a few feet before being tagged out.
- Credit Albies for running hard to the plate.
Let’s breakdown the positives and negatives of the above three plays
- Credit the Cubs in the April 28th game of manufacturing a “Time Play” by what appeared to be inducing a pick-off throw to first base to create a rundown and allow the runner on third to cross the plate before the third out was recorded in a non-force play. Hoerner did a good job by extending the rundown. Rivas ran hard THROUGH THE PLATE. Players in all organizations on all levels should see this.
- In Play No. 3, credit Albies for running hard to the plate. He finished with a slide. It’s debatable what gets a runner to the plate faster-a slide or RUNNING THORUGH THE PLATE. I like the latter, but I’ll take Rivas’ hustle
- Kudos to the broadcaster who speculated that the Replay Official was assessing a “Time Play.”
- In Play No. 1, Duffy did not run hard THROUGH THE PLATE and looked back. This slowed him down. The third base coach must really move the runner in a “Time Play” situation.
- In Play No. 1, Biggio should have checked the runner on third after he stepped on first. Also, the 3-6-3 DP would have been safer, instead of a 3-3-6. By stepping on first base before throwing to second, he took away the force. When an inning ends in a force play, no runs can score.
- In Play No. 2, Swanson and Olson failed to demonstrate knowledge of the “Time Play” by paying no attention Rivas advancing to the plate.
- Libka, the plate umpire, was not in proper position to see the runner crossing the plate and the tag at second 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.
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