I love this stuff.
With two out in the top of the fifth inning during this past Saturday afternoon’s game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians, Quintin Berry came to the plate with Justin Masterson on the mound, and Alex Avila, having just hit a run scoring double, on second base.
On the first pitch, Berry is able to get on the fastball from Masterson and ground it between shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. As Avila takes off toward third base, Cabrera omes up with the ball, but instead of throwing across his body to attempt to get the speedy Berry at first, he throws to third, surprising Chisenhall, who was playing in to protect against the bunt.
As we see, Avila slides somewhat awkwardly into third, and doesn’t actually touch the bag. When he sees the ball sail over his head, he rounds the corner without stepping on the base to score a run. Meanwhile, Berry is able to stroll into second base without a problem.
Indians manager Manny Acta immediately makes a pitching change, so as the new pitcher, Tony Sipp warms up, Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont walks over to talk with Berry. Manager Jim Leyland explains:
We really weren’t aware of anything until they came down. Someone must have seen the replay and they came down to yell at them to appeal. So Gene, knowing that they probably saw it on the replay, told Berry to take off because if they make a play on Berry, then they can’t make the appeal.
Lamont and Leyland are indeed correct, as according to rule 7.10, “any appeal … must be made before the next pitch, or any attempted play.” Unfortunately for them, while the private discussion between the runner on second and the third base coach was taking place, the Indians were just figuring out that the play wasn’t as straight forward as it had seemed. Manny Acta tells us about Cleveland’s perspective.
We didn’t see it right off the bat. Some guys kind of saw it from the dugout. One of our coaches went down to watch the video about Lonnie’s situation at third base. We found out through that. The pitching change kind of helped and gave us time to appeal the play.
So, before play starts back up again, Berry breaks for third base. Sipp throws to third, and he’s tagged out. However, play hadn’t officially resumed, so it didn’t count. When play did resume officially, Berry again breaks for third trying to goad the pitcher into a reaction that would block an appeal, but this time when Sipp throws to third, Chisenhall steps on the base first as a means of appealing, and even though Berry is again tagged afterwards, there were already three out because the appeal was successful.
So, while it failed this time, it was no less valiant of a heads-up effort to escape with a run that shouldn’t have counted within the confines of the rules.