OAKLAND, Calif. — Major League Baseball made a plethora of rule changes for this year, but baseball is still the same game at its core: three strikes and you’re out, three outs and the inning turns over.
That second part got a bit confused on Sunday.
In the sixth inning, the Athletics ran off the field after recording their second out — a force play at second base. The Giants followed suit, taking the field to warm up for the bottom half. Everything looked normal.
Except seemingly everyone on the field didn’t realize that the force out was only the second, not the third, out.
After the game, a 9-5 Giants victory, manager Gabe Kapler explained that the confusion came down to everyone reacting to the reactions.
“Have you seen any of those videos where two people are together and one person is acting like something crazy’s happening and the other person reacts to that thing that’s happening?” Kapler said postgame. “So if I went like this and you were near me, you’d be like ‘Oh shit, what’s happening?’ Well, that’s what happened on the field. I’m talking about everybody in the stadium, the same thing: scoreboard outs, dugouts, umpires.”
Kapler said it wasn’t just Oakland second baseman Tony Kemp’s body language that threw things off-kilter. “The whole field was orchestrated like that’s the last out of the inning,” Kapler said.
Once the Giants realized what was happening, they called up to their replay room to confirm their suspicions. Kapler signaled to home plate umpire Bill Miller and Athletics manager Mark Kotsay, and a brief chat followed.
Miller made call to confirm the mistake, too, Kapler said. All the while, the Giants were warming up on the field as if it was their turn to play defense.
During the warm-up, pitcher Alex Wood thought the mix-up was because the umpires were trying to fix the mound dirt.
“I didn’t realize it was all about the outs,” Wood said. “That was a first, for sure…I had no idea. They thought there was three outs, we thought there were three outs. I don’t know who caught it.”
It’s still spring training for everyone.
“I think the way the players reacted on the field, it was just one big deke,” Kapler said. “I thought it was really funny. I’ve never seen that before in baseball.”