An RBI infield fly, but no sacrifice fly

No matter how many baseball games you see in a lifetime, there’s still a chance whenever you go to a ballpark that you’ll witness something for the first time. That even applies to official scorers.

Ben Trittipoe has been official scoring in some capacity for the past 30 years, but he saw a new one for him in Sunday’s first game of the doubleheader between Washington and Milwaukee. In the ninth inning of the Nationals’ 8-4 home win, the Brewers scored a run on Ryan Braun’s popup toward the second baseman.

With the bases loaded and one out, an infield fly was ruled. The wind, though, took the ball away from Danny Espinosa. The ball dropped a reported 15 feet behind him, and Carlos Gomez scored from third, providing the Brewers’ offensive highlight of the day, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The ball wasn’t caught, but a run scored because players can advance at their own risk on an infield fly. So Trittipoe was left with two questions. Should there be an RBI, and should Braun be credited with a sacrifice fly?

As far as the RBI goes, he dealt with the following scoring rule (and decided that Braun’s at-bat, much like a groundout that brings in a run, did not violate any of the clauses):

10.04 RUNS BATTED IN

A run batted in is a statistic credited to a batter whose action at bat causes one or more runs to score, as set forth in this Rule 10.04.

(a) The official scorer shall credit the batter with a run batted in for every run that scores . . .

(1) unaided by an error and as part of a play begun by the batter’s safe hit (including the batter’s home run), sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, infield out or fielder’s choice, unless Rule 10.04(b) applies;

(2) by reason of the batter becoming a runner with the bases full (because of a base on balls, an award of first base for being touched by a pitched ball or for interference or obstruction); or

(3) when, before two are out, an error is made on a play on which a runner from third base ordinarily would score.

Next comes the question of whether it was a sacrifice fly (and this time, he was swayed by the fact Espinosa was not running after the ball in the outfield):

10.08 SACRIFICES

The official scorer shall:

(a-c refer to sacrifice bunts)

(d) Score a sacrifice fly when, before two are out, the batter hits a ball in flight handled by an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield in fair or foul territory that . . .

(1) is caught, and a runner scores after the catch, or

(2) is dropped, and a runner scores, if in the scorer’s judgment the runner could have scored after the catch had the fly been caught.

Rule 10.08(d) Comment: The official scorer shall score a sacrifice fly in accordance with Rule 10.08(d)(2) even though another runner is forced out by reason of the batter becoming a runner.

Easy enough, right? Braun was credited with an RBI but also an at-bat. So he’s hitting .359 instead of .365 for the season. That didn’t keep the Brewers from signing him to a five-year, $105 million extension through 2020.

Just to be sure of his ruling, Trittipoe contacted the Elias Sports Bureau on Sunday. He said in an e-mail explaining the ruling that they told him “that is what they have suggested in similar situations.”

As for those similar situations, don’t expect to see many of them either, no matter how many games you attend.

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