Just when you think you’ve seen every possible bizarre play in baseball, something new happens to make you think to yourself, “Well, you don’t see that every day!”
Today’s example is from Wednesday’s game between the Reds and the Brewers, which turned into a 13-12 shootout win for the Brew Crew. It went 10 innings, featured Christian Yelich going 6-for-6 and hitting for the cycle, and a strange play in the bottom of the sixth when relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen was at the plate.
With runners on first and second with no outs, Lorenzen was sent up to bunt the runners over. After some failed attempts, the count was 1-2 but Lorenzen still squared up to bunt, knowing a foul ball would result in strike three.
Here’s what happened:
The pitch was high and inside, but Lorenzen was still technically bunting at it, right? So he’s out, right?
The home plate umpire Tony Randazzo ruled that he was pulling back from his bunt attempt, making the contact nothing more than a regular check swing foul ball. The Brewers argued the call to no avail, and Lorenzen promptly whacked the crap out of the next pitch for a three-run home run.
He also got a nice callout from the “Batcast” for his stylish bat flip:
— Cut4 (@Cut4) August 30, 2018
So did the umpire blow the call? It’s not exactly black and white. According to C. Trent Rosecrans from The Athletic, crew chief Bill Welke explained the call after the game:
“It was a very unusual play. I’m going to refer you to a couple of rules, which may clear this up. Rule 5.09 says a batter is out when he bunts foul on (the) third strike. But now we have to go to ‘what is the definition of a bunt?’ So if we go to the definitions in the rulebook, page 141, a bunt is a batted ball not swung at but intentionally met with the bat and tapped slowly within the infield. (Lorenzen) was in full retreat. It was not an intentionally-met not-swinging attempt. He was not attempting to hit that. Therefore, if he’s not bunting, it just becomes a foul ball. (Home plate umpire Tony Randazzo’s) responsibility was to make sure the first base umpire didn’t have him attempting. That was just good umpiring on Tony’s part. Make it clear. I know it was confusing for the people that weren’t within it but that’s why it was ruled he was not making an attempt.”
The home run gave the Reds a 10-6 lead, but they would ultimately lose the game. The win keeps Milwaukee within five games of the NL Central lead and one game above the Rockies for the second NL Wild Card spot. As for the Reds… well, they fell to 57-76 and continue to suck.