In the ninth inning of a game with significant wild card race implications, it was a pop-out on a foul ball that handed the Oakland Athletics the winning run on Thursday.
Facing the Kansas City Royals with runners on second and third with one out, A’s second baseman Corban Joseph hit a foul pop-up that drifted toward his own dugout on the third base line. Royals third-baseman Cheslor Cuthbert easily reached the ball’s landing spot, then extended out and caught the ball for an out.
However, Cuthbert wasn’t able to stop his momentum and had to jump into the A’s dugout. That would prove to be costly.
The umpire immediately called Joseph out, then signaled that play was dead and for both baserunners to advance. The Athletics went up 9-7, then held on in the bottom of the ninth to win 9-8.
Why did the A’s get that run?
The reason for the unusual run: Rule 5.06(b)(3)(C) of the MLB rulebook, which states:
If a fielder, after having made a legal catch, should step or fall into any out-of-play area, the ball is dead and each runner shall advance one base, without liability to be put out, from his last legally touched base at the time the fielder entered such out-of-play area.
That rule doesn’t come up often, but it clearly applied here.
Cuthbert admitted after the game that he was not aware of the rule, per MLB.com’s David Adler:
"At one point when I was getting close to the ball, I looked down to see where I was at -- if it was going to be a tough play," Cuthbert said. "That's why my first instinct was to hold onto the railing to not fall into the dugout. When the ball was coming down, that's the only shot I had.
"Then the umpire said the runners were going to advance a base. I didn't know about that rule. Every day you learn something in baseball."
The 47-88 Royals probably won’t sweat the loss too much in the long run, but the Tampa Bay Rays might be a little miffed. The win improved Oakland’s record to 77-56, which put them a game ahead of the Rays in the wild card race.
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