Arizona Diamondbacks Walk-Off Confusion Explained


On Sunday, the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Cincinnati Reds in extra innings. Chris Owings singled deep to left center to bring home the game winning run and Arizona picked up a series win and Owings got his first walk off hit as a major leaguer.

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Seems simple enough, right? Well, not exactly. After it appeared that Arizona had won the game, the Reds retrieved the ball, and tossed it around the infield attempting to record two outs, which they thought would keep the game going.

What happened?

So, here’s the scenario and how everything played out. The order of events is important and was key to the umpire’s ruling.

It was the bottom of the 10th inning and Arizona loaded the bases with just one out. Owings was at the plate and crushed a ball deep to left center that one hopped to the wall. Cincinnati had their outfielders playing fairly shallow in an attempt to prevent a sacrifice fly and to allow themselves a chance to throw out the runner advancing home from third if a ball was to be hit in front of the outfielders.

As soon as the ball hit by Owings flew over the head of Reds center fielder, Billy Hamilton, the Reds all started running off the field without even attempting to get the ball. Even if Hamilton catches the ball, Paul Goldschmidt would have easily tagged and scored from third. So, the Reds don’t even bother going after the ball.

The Diamondbacks pour out of the dugout and on to the field in celebration.

Then, Reds second baseman, Brandon Phillips runs to the outfield asking for the ball. Chase Field security had picked the ball up and was walking off of the field. Security throws the ball to Phillips who then throws it to second base, then it’s thrown to first and from there, it’s thrown to third.

The Reds then huddle with the umpire crew.

When Owings hit the ball, Jake Lamb ran about half way to second base and then turned around to celebrate. David Peralta got near third base from second, but never touched the base. He too, turned around to celebrate.

Aug 9, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price (38) challenges that Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Chris Owings (not pictured) did not step on first base after his walk off single at Chase Field. The play was upheld. The Diamondbacks won 4-3 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati saw this, and thought that the runners had abandoned the base paths and should be called out.

The umpires were speaking with the Reds for a good amount of time before making their decision and leaving the field, officially ending the game.

So, why didn’t the Reds have a case?

Well, there are a couple of reasons. First off, they tagged second base first. When the bases are loaded, there is a force out at every base, when they tagged second first, they took away the force out at third. If the runner is out at second base, it is now vacant. The runner going from second to third, now needs to be tagged. With the Diamondbacks having only one out, an out at second base gives them two and the inning is still alive.

Second, and most important, there is an actual rule specifically for this situation. All that needed to happen for the game to end was Goldschmidt (runner from third) touching home and Owings (batter running to first) touching first base. Once those two things happen, that’s it, the game is over.

Here is the rule word for word, straight from the rule book:

"Rule 5.08 (b) – When the winning run is scored in the last half-inning of a regulation game, or in the last half of an extra inning, as the results of a base on balls, hit batter or any other play with the bases full which forces the runner on third to advance, the umpire shall not declare the game ended until the runner forced to advance from third has touched home base and the batter-runner has touched first base."

Cincinnati would have had a case if the Diamondbacks had two outs. As per an exception to rule 5.08 (b), with two outs, the runners that peeled off of the base paths could have been ruled out, the inning would have been over and the game would continue.

"EXCEPTION: A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made (a) by the batter-runner before he touches first base; (2) by any runner being forced out; or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases."

So, this whole thing was a little more confusing than it needed to be. Lamb and Peralta didn’t necessarily do anything wrong, but in the future, they would be better off suited running to the bases just to be sure. They were saved by only having one out, whether they were aware of that while running, we’ll never know, but at the end of the day, the Diamondbacks won the game fair and square.

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