Minor League Baseball is home to some of the wackiest finishes in the sport, and our friends at FTW unearthed this incredibly weird one from Tuesday.
The New Britain Rock Cats trailed the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 5-3 heading into the seventh inning of their AA Eastern League contest. After winning game one of their doubleheader earlier in the evening, the Fisher Cats (affiliated with the Blue Jays) were looking to finish off the sweep. The Rock Cats, a Twins affiliate, picked up three doubles over their first four batters of the inning to tie the game at five. With a man on second and one out, Fisher Cats pitcher walked Rock Cats star hitter Miguel Sano to put two men on. During the at bat, the runner on second (Eddie Rosario) moved to third on a wild pitch, and Sano stole second base. Evan Bigley struck out for the second out of the inning, and with runners on second and third, New Hampshire pitcher Alan Farina decided to walk Reynaldo Rodriguez.
The first three pitches of the intentional walk went according to plan. But Farina threw the fourth pitch to the backstop, allowing Rosario to score the game-winning run. When people talk about wanting to discontinue the practice of throwing four pitches for an intentional walk and simply award first base to the batters, situations like this are what immediately gets brought up as a reason why that shouldn't happen. Seeing a walkoff win happen during an attempted intentional walk is an absolutely bizarre circumstance. Imagine a quarterback tripping and fumbling the ball while attempting to take a knee ending the game. A situation like that is a pretty decent comparison for what happened here, but the situation in the Eastern League on Tuesday night was much more heartbreaking.
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Lost in the weirdness of all this is that the batter should have been called out by the umpire for abandoning his right to first base. The run therefore should not have counted since the batter never reached first base ! ! !
It sounds like the first three pitches were not of the the intentional ball variety, by the context.