Strange play in Orioles-Reds game confuses pretty much everyone

Baseball is unpredictable. That’s one of the things that makes it wonderful. You don’t know what’s going to happen when a player swings, or even when the bat connects with the ball. It could go any way, depending on the physics of the moment.

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The physics of the moment led to a supremely strange play during the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.

It was the top of the fourth inning, and Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was batting with Manny Machado on first. Davis connected with the first pitch he saw, and that’s the moment things started getting strange. The ball was a laser, and it was hit right to third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who was manning the shift between first and second base. It was such a laser that Suarez dropped it immediately.

Pretty much everyone in this picture is confused. (MLB.TV)
Pretty much everyone in this picture is confused. (MLB.TV)

But Machado didn’t see Suarez drop the ball right away. He assumed it was caught for a line drive out, so he dove back to first base so he wouldn’t be doubled off. Suarez recovered the ball quickly and, assuming that the ball was still live, threw it to second base to get Machado out. Davis had been half-heartedly running up the first base line, but he turned on the gas when he saw second baseman Zack Cozart throw the ball to first base to attempt a double play. The ball made it there with time to spare, and Davis ran through first with Machado still hanging onto the bag near the ground.

It all looked really odd, and it was really confusing. How many outs were gotten, and where? There were three separate, potential outs between two runners, and they couldn’t all count.

In the end, the umpires ruled that Suarez had made the catch for the line drive out, and the drop was made during the transfer. That ruling is debatable, especially since the ball popped out of Suarez’s glove almost instantly, but it’s certainly the most sensible route to go. (And no one wants to steal CB Bucknor’s bad umpiring spotlight.)

So the confusion was cleared up, and the game continued. (The Orioles would go on to win 2-1 in ten innings.) That odd little play may not have made a big impact on the game, but that’s one of the things that makes baseball so great. That unpredictable strangeness is baked right in, and it wouldn’t be baseball without it.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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