The plate blocking rule is well-intentioned, but something has to be changed. To see why, look no further than last night’s Reds-Marlins game in which the go-ahead run was scored on a sac fly even though the ball beat the runner home by a country mile.
The situation: The Marlins had a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth. Zack Cozart was on third with one out. Todd Frazier hit a fly ball which was caught by Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton throws home as Cozart tags and tries to score. Catcher Jeff Mathis fields the ball way, way before Cozart is close to home. Watch the play unfold:
Yes, Mathis is blocking the plate without the ball for a brief moment. But then he has the ball, well before Cozart is there, and there’s no way in heck that a collision is going to happen here. And preventing such collisions is the purpose of the rule.
Major League Baseball apparently realizes this got messed up, because after the game they released this statement:
“We have begun to examine the Crew Chief Review in tonight’s Reds-Marlins game, which resulted in a violation of Rule 7.13, the call being overturned and a run scoring on the play,” the statement said. “We plan to discuss this situation further with the appropriate parties tomorrow, and we will communicate with the clubs after our discussion about this play.”
Fact of the matter is that the rule needs to be changed. Or, at the very least, some umpire judgment needs to be allowed here. Allow them to determine whether or not the catcher’s block actually, you know, made a difference. Whether it put the runner in the position of having to run into the catcher or not. Because as it is now, a rule that was designed to help protect catchers is being used against them.
Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.
While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.
Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.
It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:
Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:
Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.