Blue Jays Fans, Unaware of Rule, Litter Field with Debris

Shin-Soo Choo

Toronto Blue Jays fans, unaware of the perfect legality of a tie-breaking run scored by the Texas Rangers in the pivotal fifth game of the ALDS series, hurled debris on the field. The Jays eventually won the game, 6-3.

With the score tied 2-2 in the seventh inning, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor alertly dashed home from third base after a throw back from Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin unintentionally hit the bat of Shin-Soo Choo. While the ball rolled down the third base line and Choo stood in the batter’s bow obliviously, Odor raced across the plate to score.

Plate umpire Dale Scott first ruled it a dead ball, but then Rangers manager Jeff Banister protested, prompting a two-and-a-half minute consultation among the umpires, causing them to reverse the call and motion that Odor’s run counted. After the fans littered the field, an 18-minute delay ensued. Toronto Mayor John Tory tweeted to the crowd: “Don’t hurt each other or our city over this. We can prove ourselves in more ways than one. #ComeTogether.”

The Blue Jays filed a protest of the game; Mark Buehrle, unlisted on their postseason roster, wound up getting ejected.

Rule 603(a)(3) in the MLB rulebook states clearly: “However, if the batter is standing in the batter’s box and he or his bat is struck by the catcher’s throw back to the pitcher (or throw attempting to retire a runner) and, in the umpire’s judgement, there is no intent on the part of the batter to interfere with the throw, the ball is alive and in play.”

In the end, the incident meant little, as the Blue Jays scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning following three Rangers’ errors, climaxed by Jose Bautista’s three-run homer.

Bautista stared at Rangers pitcher Sam Dyson as the ball soared out of the park, then arrogantly flipped his bat away. Meanwhile, Edwin Encarnacion, who was on deck, gestured to the crowd to stop littering the field, but Dyson misunderstood Encarnacion, leading to a verbal contretemps and the benches of both teams clearing. At the end of the inning, after Troy Tulowitzki popped out, Dyson confronted him, causing a second clearing of the benches.



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