“You see something new at the ballpark every day” is one of the most famous baseball sayings, and it was borne out again Wednesday at PNC Field in Pennsylvania.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the New York Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, were hosting the Norfolk Tides, a farm team of the Baltimore Orioles.
The game headed to extra innings, where Norfolk scored in the top of the 10th inning to take a 6-5 lead. Then in the bottom of the 10th, Breyvic Valera of the RailRiders hit what appeared to be a game-tying double to score a runner on second base.
But Tides outfielder Anderson Feliz pulled a J.R. Smith and forgot the score. Feliz thought the game was tied with Valera at the plate instead of his team trailing by one run.
Thus, instead of hustling toward the ball to limit Valera’s advancement, Feliz slowly jogged toward the ball while Valera was racing around the bases. Once he reached it, Feliz — still unaware that the potential game-winning run was circling the bases — tossed the ball to a fan into the stands.
The ball never made its way back onto the field, and the play was scored as a double by Valera and a throwing error by Feliz. Since the ball went into the stands and out of play, it was a two-base error that allowed Valera to advance home and win the game for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“What a mistake and a win for the RailRiders all at that same time,” the announcer said. “That is unbelievable.”
Even if Valera had slowly trotted to the ball and then realized the score, the play likely would have been a triple.
But his mental lapse was uninterrupted, costing his team the game and showing why Norfolk has the worst record in the South Division of the International League at 28-41.
That was a play that no one in attendance had likely ever seen before. That includes the players, one of whom was Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who went 0 for 2 as part of his rehab stint with the RailRiders.
However, plays like this have happened before in professional baseball, including at the highest level. Seven-time Gold Glove winner Larry Walker had a similar play in 1994 while he was with the Montreal Expos.
Walker records a flyout and then hands the ball to a fan in the stands. However, that was just the second out and there was a baserunner on first base.
That baserunner then advances to bases while Walker, after being alerted by his teammates, goes back to the fan to retrieve the ball.
In the end, it didn’t matter where the baserunner was because the very next batter hit a home run to plate two runs.
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