Bucs score because Nats didn't get ... a fourth out?

June 29th, 2022

WASHINGTON -- While there are three outs every half-inning, the fourth out rule was enacted during the fifth frame of an 8-7 Pirates win over the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park.

With Hoy Park on second base and Jack Suwinski on third with one out, Nats reliever reliever Steve Cishek induced a lineout to first base off the bat of Ke’Bryan Hayes. After making the catch, first baseman Josh Bell fired the baseball across the diamond to third baseman Ehire Adrianza, who tagged Park to complete the double play and record the third out, prompting the Nats to return to their dugout thinking they’d escaped the jam.

Suwinski, though, had crossed home plate during the defensive flurry to score what was -- at the time -- the go-ahead run, all without tagging up at third. Hayes was credited with an RBI. Because the Nationals did not appeal at third before leaving the field, the officiating crew ruled the run counted, citing Rule 5.09(c)(4) regarding appeal plays.

What’s the rule?
Rule 5.09(c)(4) states: "Any appeal under this rule must be made before the next pitch, or any play or attempted play. If the violation occurs during a play which ends a half-inning, the appeal must be made before the defensive team leaves the field.

"An appeal is not to be interpreted as a play or an attempted play. Successive appeals may not be made on a runner at the same base. …

"Appeal plays may require an umpire to recognize an apparent 'fourth out.' If the third out is made during a play in which an appeal play is sustained on another runner, the appeal play decision takes precedence in determining the out. If there is more than one appeal during a play that ends a half-inning, the defense may elect to take the out that gives it the advantage.

"For the purpose of this rule, the defensive team has 'left the field' when the pitcher and all infielders have left fair territory on their way to the bench or Clubhouse."

What did the umpire say?
Crew chief Mark Wegner, to a pool reporter:
“This is the first time I’ve been on the field for something like this.”

What happened? “... [Pirates manager Derek] Shelton originally came out saying that the ball wasn’t caught. So we got together to make sure that we had a catch by the first baseman. Then after that, we made sure that everybody knew what we had, and we had three outs and the run scoring … the defensive team could appeal for a fourth out -- [that] is what it’s called -- that the runner from third didn’t tag up. But they have to do that.

“So the pitcher and the infielders already crossed the foul line. So now they can’t even appeal for the fourth out. So that was that situation.

“The other part of it is -- and this is another important part, which it’s a crazy play, but it was ruled correctly -- is that any time there’s an appeal it has to be -- the player, the fielder, has to be doing it for the obvious intent of appealing.

“In the play that happened, when the third baseman tagged the runner, the third base umpire pointed and said, ‘He’s out. The runner’s out for the third out.’ Now at that point, if the third baseman wants to say, ‘I want to appeal that the guy that just scored from third left early,’ then we can call what’s called the ‘fourth out,’ and then he can step on the base for that. But it has to be an intentional-type thing.

If the third baseman had stepped on the bag without tagging the runner, even if the runner had crossed home first, would he be out at third for not tagging up? “Correct. Because in the way I’m envisioning it, he’s stepping on it, not even trying to tag this guy. So he would be saying, ‘He didn’t tag up.’ It wouldn’t be a bad idea to say that, but certainly we would all know that he’s just standing on the base saying he didn’t tag up.

“But his intent -- and we watched, to make sure -- was to tag this guy. So that’s the third out. But yes, correct, if he does that, or if he after tagging the guy says, ‘I want to appeal that this guy left early,’ you can do that, and then the run wouldn’t score.”

What did the Nationals say?
Manager Dave Martinez:
“They deemed that Adrianza never touched the base, which he clearly did. He touched the runner and the base. So therefore, there was no appeal. So they say the run scores, in their judgment. We couldn’t appeal because we went off the field, being that they called an out. Inning’s over, so what do you do? Stand on the field? No. Then all of a sudden, when Shelton came out, they told Cishek to hold off. So there we stand with a run scored. I felt like we did everything right, we caught the ball, he threw it, he tagged the runner and the base. They said he didn’t touch the base. … 

“I’m not blaming them [that] we lost the game because of that one play, obviously, but it’s a big run. It’s a one-run game, right?”

Bell: “It was wild because [Adrianza] makes the tag, he touches third and it was one of those scenarios where we didn’t think that we had to do anything else. And it seemed as such the replay or the conference, the meeting that the umpires had, didn’t go in our favor. It seems like there’s certain scenarios in the game where if you can make a phone call and get the right call, the game’s the most important thing at the end of the day. But it stinks, especially to lose that game by one. It’s definitely telling that we’ve got to just be better about getting the right calls, no matter what it takes, going forward.” 

Adrianza: “I just thought about tagging the runner and tagging the base. When everything happens, the third-base umpire told me he didn’t see me when I touched the base, so that’s why I think they made that call … 

“It’s frustrating because I think we had a chance to appeal on that play and get the run they scored back. Right now, we should be playing a tie game.”

What did the Pirates say?
Shelton: “The rule is you have to have an infielder that stays on the field of play. You cannot get off the base line. And the umpires, to their credit, Jeremie Rehak tried to stop [Steve] Cishek three times, and I know that because I was on the field. …

“The fourth-out rule enters my mind all the time. We had a situation last year against the Giants at home on a walk-off, and they argued something very similar on an appeal. Now, this was touching a base, but the Giants have four veteran infielders and they all stayed on the field. So, as soon as anything like that happens, that’s why we always tell our pitcher to stay on that side [of the foul line], because if something does come back, especially with replay, you want to be able to go back and do it.”

Park: “I’ve never seen that play before. I was kind of confused. Everyone was confused about it. Finally we scored. I still don’t know what happened.”