You Make The Call: Who’s Responsible For Which Runs?


Growing up, there was a long-running IBM ad series that “You Make The Call” on difficult rules interpretations.

So here’s one for you. If you can properly score this, you may have a future as an official scorer.

The Situation

It’s the sixth inning of Norfolk-Memphis’ game on Thursday night. Kyle Leahy is pitching for Memphis.

Anthony Bemboom singles to begin the inning. Joseph Rosa doubles to move Bemboom to third. Jose Godoy then singles to score Bemboom and Rosa. Jackson Holliday then walked to move Godoy to second.

Connor Norby followed with a single to score Godoy and move Holliday to second.

At this point, this is all easy. Leahy is the only pitcher in the inning at this point so Bemboom, Rosa and Godoy all are charged to him.

Dalton Roach came in to replace Leahy on the mound. There are two runners (with Holliday at second and Norby on first).

Roach got Colton Cowser to fly out to get the first out of the inning. Coby Mayo then singled to load the bases. So there are now three runners on base, two of which are Leahy’s responsibility (Holliday and Norby) and one (Mayo) who was Roach’s responsibility.

Josh Lester then grounded into a force out, as Holliday was retired at home for the second out of the inning.

Lewin Diaz then walked to score Norby and keep the bases loaded.

Bemboom then hit a grand slam to clear the bases, scoring Mayo, Lester and Diaz as well as Bemboom. Joseph Rosa than grounded out to end the inning.

So eight runs scored. Bemboom, Rosa and Godoy scored before Roach entered the game. Norby who was on base when Roach entered scored. Then Mayo, Lester, Diaz and Bemboom who all reached after Roach entered the game scored as well.

How many do you charge to Leahy and how many are charged to Roach? 

Scroll down when you want to see the answer.

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The Answer

Five runs were charged to Leahy and three were charged to Roach. One of the runs charged to Leahy (Mayo) was his responsibility even though Mayo stepped to the plate after Leahy had already headed to the showers. 

To explain that you have to go to the Official Rules of Baseball and Rule 9.16(g). As the rule explains:

“It is the intent of Rule 9.16(g) to charge each pitcher with the number of runners he put on base, rather than the individual runners. When a pitcher puts runners on base and is relieved, such pitcher shall be charged with all the runs subsequently scored up to and including the number of runners such pitcher left on base, unless such runners are put out without action by the batter (i.e. caught stealing, picked off base or called out for interference when the batter-runner does not reach first base on the play.”

So even though Mayo singled after Roach entered the game, he replaced Holliday as Leahy’s responsibility because Holliday was erased on a fielder’s choice.

If Mayo had then been retired on a fielder’s choice himself, the responsibility would have shifted to the next baserunner, as the relief pitcher is not saddled with responsibilities for the runners on base, even if the actual baserunners themselves change.

Since Leahy left with two runners on, he was going to be responsible for two baserunners, even if those specific baserunners were erased.

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