The Curious Case of MLB Rule 10.06(f)
You can be in baseball for a lifetime, and still it can surprise you. On any given day, you can show up at the park and see something you’ve never seen or heard before, and at the end of the night, long after the fans have gone home, you dive into the rulebook to get clarification.
That happened again on Monday night.
In game two of a partial doubleheader (originally scheduled for seven innings), the Mississippi Braves loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, game tied 1-1. Into the box stepped catcher Christian Bethancourt, ripping a pitch to the warning track in left. The ball bounced up and over the wall for a ground rule double.
Now the assumption is that since Bethancourt is given two automatic bases, then two of the base runners should score, and the Braves win 3-1 on a walkoff double. It seems simple enough, and originally that was believed to be true in the press box.
But debate soon began in the box as to whether the second runner, Dan Brewer, actually came in to score. Most agreed that he had peeled off to join the celebration, never crossing home, meaning the Braves had only won 2-1. Reminds you of Robin Ventura’s grand single back in 1999, doesn’t it? (Sorry to bring that memory back, Braves fans, but at least we won the series. Sure would like to have that ’99 World Series back against the Yanks though.)
After a few minutes of discussion, everyone settled on the idea that the umpire hadn’t called Brewer “out” for leaving the baseline, so the run should count and the Braves win 3-1.
The fans filed out, the employees went home, and everyone left believing the Braves had won by two runs on a walk-off double.
As it turns out, Brewer did nothing wrong by not crossing home. By an obscure quirk in the baseball rulebook, even if he crosses the plate, his run doesn’t count.
Media relations director Miranda Black along with help from MLB.com did some digging and found this gem of a rule: Rule 10.06 (f). It states:
- (f) Subject to the provisions of Rule 10.06(g), when a batter ends a game with a safe hit that drives in as many runs as are necessary to put his team in the lead, the official scorer shall credit such batter with only as many bases on his hit as are advanced by the runner who scores the winning run, and then only if the batter runs out his hit for as many bases as are advanced by the runner who scores the winning run.
- Rule 10.06(f) Comment: The official scorer shall apply this rule even when the batter is theoretically entitled to more bases because of being awarded an “automatic” extra-base hit under various provisions of Rules 6.09 and 7.05.
To put it in layman’s terms, the scorer can only give as many runs as are needed for the team to win the game, meaning that the run coming in from third base is the only run that counts.
The comment is the most important part of this rule. Rule 6.09 covers ground-rule doubles, so as the comment says, the official scorer shall apply the rule even when the batter is entitled to two bases “automatically”.
Therefore, per the MLB rulebook, Bethancourt is officially credited with a single because that’s the most number of bases needed for the winning run to score, and the Braves officially win 2-1.
And for those curious why a home run is different, the very next section, Rule 10.06(g) assuages your concern:
- (g) When the batter ends a game with a home run hit out of the playing field, the batter and any runners on base are entitled to score.
I’ll bet most of you learned something new about baseball today.
Kyle Tait is in his third season as the radio voice of the Mississippi Braves. Follow him on Twitter: @kyle_tait