MILWAUKEE — A play that turned out to be harmless in the end left official scorers scrambling and players and coaches scratching their heads for an explanation Friday night at Miller Park.
It was easy for the Brewers to laugh about it afterward because they held on to beat the Cubs 5-4 for a fifth consecutive win, but they ran themselves out of a promising eighth inning in the most bizarre way possible.
Ahead 5-4, Brewers shortstop Jean Segura led off the bottom of the frame with an infield single and stole second before Ryan Braun walked. Cubs reliever Shawn Camp then fooled Segura and caught the young Brewer in a rundown between second and third.
Braun ran to second, assuming Segura was going to be tagged out in the pickle. But Segura retreated back to second base, where Braun was standing. With the two Brewers now on the same bag, Cubs shortstop Luis Valbuena tagged both Segura and Braun.
So who was out? Braun was because Segura owned the rights to the base he previously occupied.
Segura didn’t know the rule and started walking towards the Milwaukee dugout on the first-base side. However, Braun knew “part of” the the rule and yelled at Segura, who stopped at first base — and was considered safe.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum claimed afterward that Segura was tagged right when he left second base, but second-base umpire Phil Cuzzi said after the game that he didn’t see a tag.
“I was surprised,” Segura said. “I was going to the dugout, and (first-base coach) Garth (Iorg) told me to stay here because I was still alive.”
Crew chief Tom Hallion and the rest of the crew reviewed film of the play in the umpires’ room after the game, and they were certain Segura was never tagged.
Following the game, Braun admitted he knew he was out, knowing that second was Segura’s base. What Braun didn’t know was whether Segura could go back to first base.
“It was actually a simple play until he (Segura) came off the base,” Braun said. “He was on the base, so it’s his base. I did everything right as a baserunner. I’m supposed to go to the next base, but clearly a confusing play.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like that. It’s simple what’s supposed to happen, but as far as the ruling goes, I have no idea what they are supposed to do and what’s normal.”
Rule 7.08(i) of the Major League Baseball rulebook states “After he has acquired legal possession of a base, he runs the bases in reverse order for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game, the umpire shall immediately call “Time” and declare the runner out; If a runner touches an unoccupied base and then thinks the ball was caught or is decoyed into returning to the base he last touched, he may be put out running back to that base, but if he reaches the previously occupied base safely he cannot be put out while in contact with that base.”
So if that wasn’t odd enough, add this to the “unique baseball stat” department.
Following the Braun out, Rickie Weeks struck out for the second out of the inning. Segura then tried to steal second base again, but was thrown out to end the eighth.
“Bizarre,” Hallion said. “Technically, he stole second, stole first, then got thrown out stealing second.
“Bizarre, but the ruling was all correct.”
Segura could have stolen second base twice in the same inning without ever leaving the basepaths. When it was all said and done, he was credited with one steal of second — which he swiped before Braun’s walk — and one caught stealing of second.
Braun got a caught stealing on the play, even though he did exactly what he was supposed to do.
“We assume they (the Cubs) are going to do their thing right in the rundown and he’s (Segura is) going to be out and I’m then in scoring position,” Braun said. “Either way, one of us is in scoring position, where as if I stay at first, you are just on first base and the other guy is going to be out 98 percent of the time.
“It’s a good thing we were still able to win the game despite something like that happening.”
Because there’s no way to send Segura back to first in the computer, official scorer Tim O’Driscoll had to give Segura a caught stealing of third base. Years down the road, nobody will ever know how the play-by-play of the eighth inning of Friday’s game actually happened.
Though Segura made a few baserunning blunders in one inning and didn’t know a rule, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke wasn’t upset with his shortstop.
“Siggy is 23 years old,” Roenicke said. “He has all kinds of energy, and he is going to make mistakes, we know that. His pluses are so good that the mistakes are going to happen.”
For the record, Segura didn’t go back and watch the video.
“It was tough for me so I don’t want to see it again,” Segura said with a smile.