Major League Baseball Rule 5.06.b.3(E) flies under the radar until the rare occasions upon which it is actually broken. Such was the case Tuesday when Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez used his facemask to corral a ball that had gotten behind him.
In the 10th inning, Vazquez smothered a 1-and-2 pitch in the dirt with runners on first and second and two outs and Kansas City’s Lucas Duda at the plate. Instead of picking it up with his glove, Vazquez scooped the ball with his catcher’s mask.
Unbeknownst to Vazquez, that action ran afoul of MLB Rule 5.06.b.3(E), which stipulates that a runner may advance a base when “a fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play, and the award is made from the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched.’’ The detached equipment violation put Royals runners on second and third.
On 7/12/09, there was a similar play in a Rays-A's game in which the catcher (Dioner Navarro) touched the ball with his mask, allowing the baserunners to advance. Ruled an E2 in that instance. Maddon got ejected for arguing the rule, later acknowledged the veracity of the call.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) May 2, 2018