Were the Rays robbed of a go-ahead run in the 13th inning of their ALDS Game 3 loss vs. the Red Sox by umpire’s judgment? A lot of people watching the game wondered, but the rule book appeared to back the umps.
Tampa Bay was poised to take the lead after Kevin Kiermaier drove a ball over right fielder Hunter Renfroe’s head that hit the low wall in front of the Boston bullpen at Fenway Park on the fly. The ball hit the warning track, caromed back toward Renfroe, deflected off his body and then landed over the wall.
Yandy Diaz, who was running on the pitch, was heading toward home at that point, but umpires placed Kiermaier at second base and Diaz at third on the book-rule double. The Rays failed to score in that inning, and Christian Vazquez hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the frame for a 6-4 Red Sox win and 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
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At first glance, Rule 5.05(a)(8) seems to clearly back the umpires’ call:
“The batter becomes a runner when bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;”
“That’s the ruling, the umpires explained it to me. So I can’t go against that. The rules are what they are. But man, that’s just, that’s a heartbreaker,” Kiermaier told reporters after the game.
Rays manager Kevin Cash accepted the ruling as well.
“That’s just the rule. That’s the way it goes. It was very unfortunate for us,” he told reporters.
But a lot of the baseball world was confused by where the runners were placed. Shouldn’t Diaz have been allowed to score because he was past second at the time? Shouldn’t Kiermaier been awarded third because he was past first?
Rule 5.05(a)(8) isn’t clear on when the two bases are to be awarded: from when the pitch occurred or from when the ball went over the wall? Batters and runners are placed from when the pitch on book-rule or ground-rule doubles.
Umpires do have discretion in placing baserunners at times, but in such cases as batted balls that go under or through fences, throws that go out of play and fan interference.