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Royals 11, Cubs 9: Batting out of order

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Sunday’s game at Sloan Park produced something you rarely see in baseball.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

MESA, Arizona — Keeping score at a spring training game is good practice. Sometimes teams have multiple players with the same uniform number, sometimes there are guys you’ve literally never heard of (there was one of those in this one), and when teams make wholesale changes in an inning, it’s a challenge to keep up.

None of that prepared me for seeing this, though:

That is literally something you see once a year, maybe. Here’s some MLB information covering batting out of order:

If a team bats out of turn, the onus is not on the umpires to notify either team of the transgression. The consequences of batting out of turn vary depending on the timing of the appeal.

Rule 6.07 (b) explains further:

6.07 BATTING OUT OF TURN.

(a) A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn, and another batter completes a time at bat in his place.

(1) The proper batter may take his place in the batter’s box at any time before the improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and any balls and strikes shall be counted in the proper batter’s time at bat.

(b) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and the defensive team appeals to the umpire before the first pitch to the next batter of either team, or before any play or attempted play, the umpire shall (1) declare the proper batter out; and (2) nullify any advance or score made because of a ball batted by the improper batter or because of the improper batter’s advance to first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise.

NOTE: If a runner advances, while the improper batter is at bat, on a stolen base, balk, wild pitch or passed ball, such advance is legal.

(c) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and a pitch is made to the next batter of either team before an appeal is made, the improper batter thereby becomes the proper batter, and the results of his time at bat become legal.

(d) (1) When the proper batter is called out because he has failed to bat in turn, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of the proper batter thus called out;

(2) When an improper batter becomes a proper batter because no appeal is made before the next pitch, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of such legalized improper batter. The instant an improper batter’s actions are legalized, the batting order picks up with the name following that of the legalized improper batter.

The thing is — in this situation, none of that happened, because there was no appeal. It occurred because in the fifth inning, Kyle Schwarber, who was on second base after a walk and a groundout, took off for third when a ball briefly got away from Royals catcher Drew Butera. He was initially safe and credited with a stolen base, but when there was some confusion in the Royals defense, Schwarber was thrown out, ending the inning.

Efren Navarro was batting when this all took place, so he should have been the batter when the bottom of the sixth began, but instead, Peter Bourjos took the at-bat and grounded out.

No one said anything at all, and the Cubs continued to bat in that order for the rest of the game. Since Bourjos made an out, the Royals likely decided it wasn’t worth appealing the out-of-order, besides, it’s a spring training game and this is likely of more interest to me than any of the players and coaches on the field at the time.

If you are as interested as I am in this baseball oddity, Retrosheet has a page dedicated to every one of these incidents in MLB history, which includes this one involving then-Cubs manager Dusty Baker April 16, 2004:

In the top of the seventh inning, Cubs manager Dusty Baker intended to place two new players in the lineup with a double switch but failed to tell Umpire C.B. Bucknor. When the Cubs batted in the bottom of the inning, shortstop Ramon Martinez came to the plate in the ninth spot in the order and doubled. The Reds protested that the Cubs were batting out of order. Pitcher Kent Mercker, the proper batter, was called out. Baker argued with the umpires but was told that the call stood. Yelling & screaming, he tossed his lineup card on the ground and was ejected by Bucknor. Baker threw his hat, walked away and returned; he tossed his hat again, stomped to the dugout and kicked some items in the on deck circle before finally leaving the field. The Cubs won in the bottom of the ninth, 11-10, when Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou hit back-to-back homers to end the game. When Baker arrived home that day, his son called him “Mad Dog.”

I remember that game well. I don’t think I ever saw Dusty as animated as he was that afternoon.

Anyway, back to Sunday’s 11-9 loss to the Royals, from which there were a few things worth noting.

Tyler Chatwood struck out six in five innings, including striking out the side in the first inning. Unfortunately, there was also a two-run homer in that inning by Frank Schwindel. Chatwood also served up another homer, to former Cub Jorge Soler. I didn’t think it was that bad an outing; the wind was blowing out at a pretty good clip, but neither of those homers needed any help.

Meanwhile, the Cubs were hitting Danny Duffy pretty hard. Bourjos, before his batting out of order adventure, doubled in two runs in the second. The biggest offensive blow for the Cubs from the regulars in this game was this two-run blast by Willson Contreras:

That ball was hit a long, long way. In the five seasons of Sloan Park, that’s the first homer I’ve seen get that close to the party deck in left field.

In the sixth, Steve Cishek got the first two outs. Then Joe called on Justin Wilson, and I get what he was doing here — this was an attempt to replicate a regular-season situation where he’d come in to face a lefthanded hitter, in this case former Cub Jon Jay (who got some nice applause when introduced).

Wilson has thrown pretty well this spring, but this outing looked too much like one from last year. He walked the first man he faced, then gave up a single followed by a three-run homer from Mike Moustakas, who was playing in just his third spring game after his late re-signing by the Royals. After a double by Schwindel, Joe had mercy and lifted Wilson.

Let’s hope this was a one-off and not what we’d see from Wilson during the season.

Trent Giambrone, a 23rd-round pick in 2016 who played at Myrtle Beach last year, hit a three-run homer in the seventh to tie the game 9-9, but Mike Montgomery allowed two runs in the eighth, part of his three-inning outing. Truth be told, Montgomery deserved better; the defense behind him was shaky and a couple of balls that went for hits would probably have been caught by major league fielders.

The game ended on a bizarre play. With runners on first and second and two out, Bijan Rademacher hit a ball to deep shortstop and was called safe at first. The two runners wound up both standing near third base, where a ... well, it wasn’t quite a rundown, but... anyway, eventually the trailing runner, a 19-year-old outfielder named Fernando Kelli, who hasn’t even played in the USA yet (he spent the last two years in the Dominican Summer League) got called out for being out of the baseline for the third out.

I obviously didn’t see any of the Cubs’ 11-4 loss to the Indians at Las Vegas, so those of you who did can fill in details. From the boxscore it looks like Rob Zastryzny and Cory Mazzoni got hit pretty hard, Alec Mills threw three good innings and Ryan Court made another case for being the Iowa injury callup guy by hitting another home run, his fourth of the spring. Here is Court’s blast:

Back to Mesa for today’s attendance watch: 15,200 was the announced total, another sellout. That brings the season total to 190,348, or 12,689 per date for 14 dates.

Monday, the Cubs have another night game, this one against the Reds at Goodyear. Game time is 8:05 p.m. CT. Jon Lester will go for the Cubs against the Reds’ Robert Stephenson . No TV Monday — audio only via cubs.com.