WASHINGTON — Rule 6.07 of the baseball code reads: “A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when failing to bat in his/her proper turn, and another batter completes a time at bat in place of the proper batter.”
In other words, bat in the proper order or risk the other team noticing, which is exactly what happened in the first inning between the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers on July 4.
With two outs, Ryan Braun singled off Max Scherzer, and Nats skipper Dusty Baker came right out to talk to home plate umpire Cory Blaser.
The umpires huddled briefly, and the third out was called:
Jonathan Lucroy was charged with the at-bat and an out, and Braun led off the second inning.
The reason why was simple: in the lineup card distributed to the teams and umpire before the game, Braun was listed fourth, following Lucroy.
In another version of the lineup card, distributed to the media, the two were flip-flopped, perhaps contributing to the confusion on all parts.
It was a good job by the Nats coaching staff, which was not caught flat-footed despite the early start. The rule explicitly states that an umpire may not give any indication that a player is batting out of order–it is up to the other team to raise the issue with umpires and have them make the call.
The move paid off for the Nats, getting them out of the inning and forcing Braun to face Scherzer again. He grounded out to lead off the second inning.