CINCINNATI -- Bold, beautiful scoreboards convey all sorts of information in stadiums throughout Major League Baseball these days. Great American Ball Park is no exception, plastering lineup cards, statistics and other factoids for those in attendance to see.
Yet in the first inning of the Reds' 2-1 walk-off win over the Mets on Wednesday, those scoreboards went blank, displaying generic Reds logos where the lineups should have been. Such was the confusion that reigned when the Mets batted out of order, costing themselves a runner in scoring position and an early opportunity to take a lead.
"It's a weird baseball blunder, I guess you could say," Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler said.
Here's how it went down: With one out in the first inning, Wilmer Flores strode to the plate, batting second as the Mets intended. That's the lineup they released publicly, and that's the lineup that was posted on their own dugout wall. It is not, however, the one umpires received when first-base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. delivered the official card to home plate minutes before the game.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway called it "an administrative thing that I didn't take care of," blaming himself for declining to "double-check, triple-check and quadruple-check" the card that third-base coach Gary DiSarcina is typically responsible for writing.
"It's frustrating," Callaway said. "It probably cost us the game."
Callaway's angst only increased after Flores struck out, because Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a double to put a man in scoring position. Only then did Reds manager Jim Riggleman say something, alerting umpires to the mix-up. After consulting his own lineup card, crew chief Jerry Meals called the next batter, Jay Bruce, out. Official scorer Ron Roth also wiped Cabrera's double off the books.
That created even more confusion in the top of the second, when Adrian Gonzalez, not Bruce, came to the plate. Again, Riggleman emerged from the dugout, though this time he didn't win his argument. According to Meals, when Cabrera batted without Riggleman saying anything, Flores' out-of-order plate appearance became legal. But because Riggleman alerted umpires before Bruce took a pitch, Bruce made an out -- officially, according to MLB Rule 9.03(d), a putout to the catcher -- and was no longer due up next.
"I don't think that anybody in the stadium knew that rule except for those umpires," Riggleman said.
"I still have no idea," Bruce said. "I wasn't part of it. I was skipped over somehow. … I'm not necessarily in a position where I just want to be giving away 0-for-1s. That's not ideal, for sure."
Batting out of order is unusual, but it does happen, and has occurred no fewer than a dozen times this century. Most recently, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun batted out of turn in a game in July 2016. Eight years prior, the Mets and Reds became entangled in a bizarre scenario when then-Mets manager Willie Randolph alerted umpires that David Ross batted out of order. Ross' flyout was stricken from the record books and the Mets came away with an out. But Ross was allowed to bat in his correct spot moments later, and singled.
Scan baseball's annals for long enough, and similar situations surface, ranging from the mundane -- botched double-switches and the like -- to the absurd. Callaway, for his part, considered Wednesday's situation no laughing matter, and even Riggleman asked to keep his postgame comments brief "because that's a bad feeling for anybody."
Although Flores, Cabrera and Bruce had no idea they were involved in the snafu until Riggleman brought it to umpires' attention, Callaway knew immediately he had made a mistake.
"Obviously, I didn't get the job done there," Callaway said. "I'm pissed at myself."