The Dodgers are now even in the 2021 tally of balls hit over the fence in fair territory that didn’t count as home runs.
Tuesday fell in their favor in this regard, when exceptional Pirates rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes hit an opposite-field home run off the right field foul pole in the first inning. The play should have given Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead, even after a review that seemed mostly academic since the sound of the ball hitting the foul pole was loud enough to leave no doubt.
But instead, chaos happened.
Instead of the review being about whether Hayes hit a home run, it concerned his rounding the bases. Specifically, Hayes failed to touch first base, and was called out. Here’s a slow-motion replay of Hayes missing the bag.
Instead of trailing 1-0 with one out, Walker Buehler induced a groundout on the next pitch for the third out of a scoreless first inning.
The MLB rule in play here is 5.09(c)(2), which covers runners called out on appeal. A comment on this rule specifically explains what happened to Hayes:
“Batter hits ball out of park or ground rule double and misses first base (ball is dead)—he may return to first base to correct his mistake before he touches second but if he touches second he may not return to first and if defensive team appeals he is declared out at first.”
So for driving a ball 346 feet and over the fence in fair territory, Hayes was called out. The official play-by-play adds a specific tinge of weirdness to it, noting, “Ke’Bryan Hayes flies out, pitcher Walker Buehler to first baseman Max Muncy.”
Sure, why not?
This isn’t the first time a home run in a Dodgers game hasn’t been a home run this year. On opening day, Cody Bellinger seemed to hit the team’s first home run of the season, hitting ball over the fence in left field at Coors Field. But, with Justin Turner retreating to first base, thinking the ball was caught, was passed by Bellinger on the bases.
Instead of a two-run home run, Bellinger instead was awarded an RBI single and called out.
A mere 69 days later, the Dodgers home run accounting is once again in balance. Nice.