MLB launches new rule for extra innings: Shohei Ohtani makes history, but A leaves in race for the Grand Slam

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    Vendredi soir à Oakland (OAK 7, LAA 3), la nouvelle règle des manches supplémentaires a été utilisée pour la première fois dans l'histoire du baseball.  La MLB a mis en œuvre la règle, qui place un coureur au deuxième but pour commencer chaque demi-manche supplémentaire, pour aider à accélérer le jeu le long de cette saison.  La ligue ne veut pas que les matchs se traduisent par des manches supplémentaires pendant la pandémie COVID-19.

The extra innings scenario was made possible by Los Angeles Angels wide receiver Jason Castro, who hit a solo home run against Oakland Athletics, closer to Liam Hendriks, at the top of the ninth. Shohei Ohtani struck out with bases loaded to complete the ninth inning, so by rule he was the runner on second to start in 10th.

Funny enough, the new rule seemed to surprise Ohtani. He was walking around the canoe in his sweatshirt after the end of the ninth inning and had to be reminded to come out on second base to start the 10th. Check it out:

The Angels chose not to bunt Ohtani at third base to start 10th. Michael Hermosillo, who replaced Justin Upton for defense earlier in the game, instead started the inning with a ground ball on first base, which Matt Olson threw in third to get the first runner. It was a great game from Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman.

Los Angeles eventually loaded the groundwork on a Tommy La Stella single and a Castro walk, though A’s reliever Burch Smith was able to escape unscathed. He brought Andrelton Simmons to second place with the bases loaded to finish the round. Should the Angels have had Hermosillo bunt the runner in third? Easy to say yes knowing what we know now, but I think you have to play to score as many points as possible as a team on the road. You can’t assume that one run will be enough.

Once Smith escaped from the top of the tenth, the Athletics received a runner on second to start the bottom of the tenth. That runner was Marcus Semien, who appeared behind home plate to finish the bottom of the ninth. Even though the A’s only needed one run to win the game, they opted to let Ramon Laureano break away. Here are the expected execution numbers:

  • Runner second without withdrawal: 61.4 percent chance of scoring in the inning
  • Runner third with one out: 66.0 percent (after decay)
  • Runners on turns with one out: 62.4 percent (after bunt and intentional walk to set up double play)

The Angels would almost certainly have intentionally pushed Chapman to set up the double play if Laureano had lifted Semien to third place, so the net payoff is a percentage point. That’s all. And only if the decay is successful, which is no guarantee. I let Laureano (or any hitter) swing over there. The runner is already in position to score and you have three strokes to push him.

Anyway, the bottom of the 10th got weird. Laureano took a fastball from Hansel Robles to the shoulder, then, after Chapman called out, Robles uncorked a wild pitch and moved the winning point to third base with an out. The Angels chose to employ a five-man infield in an effort to bring the runner down to the house. After Robles marched Khris Davis to load the bases, Olson had a grand slam in the first pitch against southpaw Hoby Milner.

For official scoring purposes, the automatic runner at second is deemed to have reached an error, although no defenseman is charged with an error. Also, the automatic runner goes into the books as an undeserved run when it comes to scoring, so it doesn’t hurt the pitcher’s ERA. The thrower is however responsible for all runners he allows.

Semien, the automatic runner to start the heat, is credited with a run. Robles was charged with three runs in total, but only two earned runs. Semien’s race was not deserved but Laureano and Davis’s was deserved because Robles got them to base. Milner is charged with a deserved race for Olson. Do you have it all?

Needless to say, the extra innings rule is ripe for chaos and doubts. To decay or not to carry? We will be discussing this throughout the season. Fortunately, the extra innings rule will only be used during the 2020 regular season. The extra innings in the playoffs will proceed as usual and this rule will cease in 2021.

        

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