How did Giancarlo Stanton strike out after being removed from the game?

In tonight’s Brewers/Marlins matchup, there was a horrific scene in the top of the 5th inning, where Giancarlo Stanton got hit square in the face with a fastball. There was a delay and he ended up getting carted away from the field.  The below is just a still pic, as I would need to have put a warning on this page if I linked to the video. (If you haven’t seen it, don’t. Just use your imagination, it won’t be as scary).

But the umpire ruled that Stanton had actually attempted to swing at the pitch, so instead of being awarded first base, the pitch just became strike 2.  (Note: This site is about scoring rules, not umpiring rules, but this is a correct ruling if the umpire did deem that Stanton had swung). So, a pinch hitter was needed to finish the at-bat, and Reed Johnson was summoned. Johnson swung at the first pitch he saw (which ironically also hit him) and after a check-swing appeal was ruled out on strikes.

BUT, if you look at the boxscore, you will not see Reed Johnson striking out (or even having a plate appearance) in the 5th inning. And at some point while Mr. Stanton was in the back of an emergency vehicle being rushed to the hospital, he had a strikeout added to his record.

WHY?  Well, Rule 10.15(b) says

When a batter leaves the game with two strikes against him, and the substitute batter completes a strikeout, the official scorer shall charge the strikeout and the time at bat to the first batter. If the substitute batter completes the turn at bat in any other manner, including a base on balls, the official scorer shall score the action as having been that of the substitute batter.

Pretty black and white, and I think it makes sense. It would be unfair to give Reed Johnson the strikeout when he inherited an 0-2 count. Conversely, if he hit a homerun, he would get full credit for that. Stanton would have done nothing to earn that hit.

There is a similar rule for pitchers. It is Rule 10.16(h) and it is slightly more convoluted, but in the same spirit:

A relief pitcher shall not be held accountable when the first batter to whom he pitches reaches first base on four called balls if such batter has a decided advantage in the ball and strike count when pitchers are changed.
(1) If, when pitchers are changed, the count is
2 balls, no strike,
2 balls, 1 strike,
3 balls, no strike,
3 balls, 1 strike,
3 balls, 2 strikes,
and the batter gets a base on balls, the official scorer shall charge that batter and the base on balls to the preceding pitcher, not to the relief pitcher.
(2) Any other action by such batter, such as reaching base on a hit, an error, a fielder’s choice, a force-out, or being touched by a pitched ball, shall cause such a batter to be charged to the relief pitcher.

Again, I think this is fair. If a relief pitcher comes in with a 3-0 count, you wouldn’t want to charge him with a subsequent walk. Of course, if he comes in with 0-2 and walks the batter, then he should (and does) get charged with the walk.

So, there are rules in place to account for these rare situations. But it still looks odd when you look at a boxscore and see Stanton striking out, when you know he was nowhere near the stadium when the stirkeout occurred.

Wishing a quick recovery to Giancarlo Staton.

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About Ruben Lipszyc

I write about baseball. I'm a member of the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance, and I write about my Red Sox and keep Albertans up to date on local baseball happenings at RubensBaseball.blogspot.com. I occasionally also write articles for the Canadian Baseball Network at www.CanadianBaseballNetwork.com.

Posted on September 11, 2014, in Did you know?, MLB Situation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. How can the pitch that hit Reed Johnson be called a third strike, in that it hit his bat/hand? Why wasn’t it called a foul ball, extending the at bat?

  2. Let me start by giving a disclaimer that this site is about scoring rules, and not playing rules. There are many very good umpiring/rules sites out there, including umpire-empire.com. Having said that, I am also an umpire, so I can speak to this. If the pitch his the bat, it would be a foul ball. But it was ruled that the pitch hit his hand. Since he swung at the pitch (he checked his swing, but on appeal the first base ump ruled it was a swing), it is just a strike. Note that contrary to popular belief, the hand is not part of the bat.
    This page https://sites.google.com/site/rulebookedge/rule-misconceptions/hit-by-pitch provides some good guidance on hit by pitches and addresses some common myths.

  3. Thanks! It is probably the most unfortunate case of “strikeout in abstenia” I’ve heard.

  4. Man on 2nd base….batter bunts to pitcher……he turns and looks to 3rd base…but sees no play so turns and throws to 1st base but is too late….what would be the official scoring for the batter??? is it a sacrifice?? is it a base hit???? is there a fielder’s choice????…..note: if the pitcher just threw straight to 1st base initially, he probably does get the batter out…..but because he turned to 3rd base, that delay cost him getting the batter out at 1st base….

    Thanks Very Much,
    Gary G

  5. That’s a good one. It’s not a fielder’s choice, since it can only be an FC if a throw is actually made to another base. Since the batter reached first safely, I think the only option here is to credit him with a hit.

  6. suppose the third strike to Johnson had eluded the catcher, he made it safely to first, and subsequently scored…how would you score this?…SO and AB for Stanton, run for Johnson…also game appearance for Johnson i would think, but as what?…not as a pinch hitter, since 2 batters can’t “share” an AB…maybe as a pinch runner?…

    • First of all, in this situation, it doesn’t matter that the 3rd strike gets past the catcher. It’s a deadball once the batter is hit, and he can’t go to 1st like he could on a regular dropped 3rd strike – he’s automatically out. But assuming he struck out on a wild pitch that didn’t hit him, it does make for interesting scoring . It would be a strikeout and AB for Stanton. You’re right that he can’t get an AB, so I suppose officially he’d be a pinch runner at 1st, since in the books it was Stanton that made it to 1st on the uncaught third strike. Johnson would get credit for scoring the run and anything else he did on the bases.

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