KANSAS CITY -- When Astros starter Framber Valdez threw errantly to first base in the bottom of the second inning Sunday afternoon, first baseman José Abreu chucked his glove at the ball in an effort to stop the ball from sailing into the outfield.
Turns out, you can’t do that, but it didn’t cost the Astros as much as it could have in their 7-1 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
With a runner on first and one out in the bottom of the second inning, Royals catcher Logan Porter hit a chopper up the third-base line that Valdez ran after and didn’t field cleanly, making an off-balance throw way wide of first base.
The ball was about to land in the outfield before Abreu’s glove knocked it down. This violated the detached equipment rule, though.
The situation is covered in Rule 5.06 (b)(4)(E): Each runner, including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance two bases if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a thrown ball.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Framber rushed it to try and get the double play to second base, and then he threw off balance like we ask him not to do, which is sometimes tough to stop when you’re trying to get that out. But that was a weird play. And you’re like, ‘Oh, man.’
“You try not to start to think negatively about how they got a run without anything, and possibly could have had two or more, so it was huge for us to get out of there.”
What became confusing is when Porter was only awarded second and Nick Loftin, who had hit a one-out single, was only awarded third. But the placement of the runner is a judgment call by the umpires; they had to determine where the runners were at the time of the infraction.
And that determination is not reviewable.
Because Porter hadn’t yet reached first when Abreu’s glove knocked down the ball, Porter was awarded first base and second base.
Loftin was told to advance to third, even though it can be seen on replay that he had already made it to second when the ball hit Abreu’s glove. But the umpiring crew ruled that Loftin hadn’t reached second yet; thus, he was awarded second and third base as his two bases.
That’s when Royals manager Matt Quatraro went out to ask for a rules check. The umpires connected with replay officials in New York to verify that the placement of the runners following the call was non-reviewable, which was confirmed.
“It was their judgment of where the runner was," Quatraro said. "We went to [Royals replay specialist Bill Duplissea], and he said, ‘No, he was already at second when he threw the glove.’ [Crew chief James Hoye] said, ‘In my judgment, I looked and thought he was not there yet.’ And that part of it is not reviewable.
“Porter was still running to first when it happened. Loftin was already at second, after checking with Duper, so he should have gotten home had they determined he had already gotten to second.”
Loftin scored shortly after on Drew Waters’ sacrifice fly to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead, but the Astros immediately scored two and took the lead back in the third inning off Royals starter Jordan Lyles.
“I didn’t get a good angle of what really happened,” Loftin said. “I got to second base, turned around, and at first, I thought it just hit his glove and his glove came off.”