Let’s set the scene here. Top of the fifth inning, two out, two on. Your ace has come into the game, and given up the lead. All you’re looking to do is to minimize the damage. Just when it looks like you’re out of the jam with a big strikeout from Scherzer, the ball scoots between Wieters’ legs, and heads to the backstop. The one wrinkle, you might ask? Oh yeah, Wieters gets hit on the backswing by Baez. Now, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Baez hit Wieters, or so we think. The average casual baseball fan might be wondering if something could be called.
Some more experienced baseball fans may be inclined to say that was unintentional backswing interference, but in this scenario, that is wrong. Some may think that since Baez didn’t hit him intentionally, there should be no penalty.
Now for the good stuff. In the Official 2017 MLB Rulebook, the comment under rule 6,01 a) states:
“If a batter strikes at a ball and misses and swings so hard he carries the bat all the way around and, in the umpire’s judgment, unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of him on the backswing, it shall be called a strike only (not interference). The ball will be dead, however, and no runner shall advance on the play.”
and the PBUC manual even goes slightly further to elaborate on this. On top of the official MLB ruling, it adds, “If this infraction should occur in a situation where the batter would normally become a runner because of a third strike not caught, the ball should be dead and the batter declared out.”
So was Wieters right to be frustrated with the non-call? Absolutely. Should Dusty have tried his case a bit further? Probably. Jerry Layne and his crew missed a call that ended up costing the Nationals two runs in a game that they ended up losing by a single run. If Layne gets this call right, does Scherzer get another inning? Does getting out of a jam wake up the Nationals’ bats for a big inning to propel them to the NLCS? I guess we’ll never know.
1st Baseman- University of Calgary Dinos Statistics Major