How a Home Run Becomes A Single

How a Home Run Becomes A Single

Look, this year’s Dodger Opening Day was a weird one, ok?  Misread fly balls on both sides, bad fastballs from nearly every Dodger pitcher, and an injury to Austin Barnes – the toughest player on the team.  But the inciting incident had to be the base running mishap between Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger.  Bellinger hit a home run…but then he didn’t.  So what happened?  This is sad tale of how a home run becomes a single and the derailment of Opening Day.

Top of the third inning, Justin Turner hit a ground ball to right field for a single.  Up comes Cody Bellinger.  He hit a wall-scraper that falls out of Raimel Tapia’s glove.  Bellinger slowed down to a home run trot, then started pointing frantically.  Justin Turner charged past him on his way back to first.  

The ball definitely left the yard, but no one seems to know what the score is.  Confusion sets in.  The umpires congregate. Dave Roberts steps out, swinging his finger around like an umpire would call a home run.  

In the end, the home run becomes a single, Bellinger is out, and Turner walks to home plate.

Sssssooooo…..what happened?

There are currently thirteen ways for a runner to be called out.  This situation is the ninth one listed.5.09(b)(9) runner rule home run becomes a single

Runners on the basepath have to stay in batting order.  They cannot run the bases out of order.   When Turner turned back to first because he thought Tapia caught the ball, he triggered this rule.

Even though Turner was the player that turned back and caused the situation, it’s technically on the trailing runners to maintain the order of runners, no matter what the lead runner is doing.  Because Bellinger reached first and he and Turner crossed paths between first and second, it’s recorded as a single and an out.  But because the ball did leave the field, Turner’s run counted because he went back and walked the bases. He could not have been tagged out because the ball was “dead.” 

After the umpires gave their ruling, Turner walked the bases, tagging home still under a mild air of confusion.  Funnily enough, Turner potentially had to cross home for the game to continue.  Rule 4.01(e) states when a new ball can be introduced into play. 

Rule 4.01(e) states when a new ball can be introduced into play

What this basically means is that after a home run, the runner must cross home plate before a new ball can be introduced.  There’s no clear ruling on what happens when the runner who hit the home run is out.  Considering this is only a situation that can happen when there are runners on base, perhaps the point is moot. 

It’s hard to say if Bellinger’s discounted home run, er, run would have made a difference.  Certainly not in the final score.  But as anyone who follows this team knows, they (sometimes very frustratingly) live and die as one.  Though there were some good individual moments, two errors also occurred.  And except for a very long foul ball from Charlie Blackmon (which also caused some mild confusion), no one else attempted to leave the yard.  It was, to say the least, not a typical Coors Field outing for either team and there seemed to be a bit of a funk over the rest of the game.  

If Turner is the heart and soul of the team, what does it mean for said team when he’s the one who caused the kerfuffle? 

Honestly, I can’t blame Turner for turning back.  The ball was in Tapia’s glove.  Turner turned back as soon as he saw it.  It was just bad luck.

Let’s hope that all of those bad vibes shook out today.  Game two of Opening Weekend starts tomorrow at 5:40 PST.

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