Astros-Rangers Game 4 turned on a fingertip double play

The Houston Astros evened their series with the Texas Rangers at two games apiece Thursday night, thanks to a 10-3 at Globe Life Field. Jose Abreu’s three-run blast in the fourth inning staked the Astros to a 7-3 lead, but it was what Abreu did with the glove in the next inning that might have turned the tide in Game 4 in Houston’s favor.

Trailing 7-3, the Rangers put the first two batters on in the bottom of the fifth. Leody Taveras, the ninth hitter in Texas’s lineup, led off the inning with a single. Leadoff hitter Marcus Semien singled as well, giving the Rangers a pair of runners on base with the heart of their batting order coming to the plate.

Shortstop Corey Seager stepped into the box, and laced a line drive down towards Abreu at first base. The fielder snared the liner and scrambled back towards the base, as Semien tried desperately to get back in time.

At first glance, it looked like Semien beat him to the bag. But then you notice the batting glove flapping out of his back pocket:

Now, it does get a little tricky from here.

The first-base umpire originally ruled that Semien was safe, but the Astros challenged the play. As you can see from the above video, Abreu managed to tag the batting glove in Semien’s back pocket.

Let’s go to the rule book!

Take these two definitions from the 2023 MLB Rules. First, what constitutes a “tag:”

A TAG is the action of a fielder in touching a base with his body while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove; or touching a runner with the ball, or with his hand or glove holding the ball (not including hanging laces alone), while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove. It is not a tag, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his touching a base or touching a runner, the fielder drops the ball. In establishing the validity of the tag, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball. If the fielder has made a tag and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the tag, the tag shall be adjudged to have been made. For purposes of this definition any jewelry being worn by a player (e.g., necklaces, bracelets, etc.) shall not constitute a part of the player’s body.

Then, what constitutes a “touch:”

TOUCH. To touch a player or umpire is to touch any part of his body, or any uniform or equipment worn by him (but not any jewelry (e.g., necklaces, bracelets, etc.) worn by a player). (Touch) Comment: Equipment shall be considered worn by a player or umpire if it is in contact with its intended place on his person

As you can see in the “tag” definition, the strings and laces off a glove do not count for a tag, and were explicitly carved out of the rules. Had only the laces on Abreu’s glove made contact with Semien, the runner would have been safe.

However, Abreu did make contact with Semien’s batting glove. As noted in the “touch” definition, touching equipment can constitute a touch/tag. However, there is the qualifier that equipment shall be considered “worn” if it is in “contact with its intended place on his person.”

Last we checked, batting gloves are worn on the hands. Perhaps the idea here is that because he put them in his back pocket, that is where he intended to place them?

It would not surprise us to see some sort of statement from Major League Baseball in the coming days clarifying this rule, and maybe even another carve out in the next set of official rules.

This post was originally published on this site