Think scoring is easy? Think again!

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
11:18
AM ET

So you think you want to be an official scorer? Better try this story on for size first.

Back on Aug. 6, Felix Hernandez started for the Mariners and gave up six runs in five innings, but only three of them were earned. Or at least, only three were earned when the game was scored.

Take a deep breath. This gets complicated.

In the top of the fourth, Toronto’s Adam Lind led off and reached first base safely on third baseman Kyle Seager's error. Colby Rasmus then followed with a ground ball to second that hit Lind. Under major league rules, Lind was called out and Rasmus was awarded a base hit.

Brett Lawrie then hit a grounder between third and short that shortstop Brad Miller backhanded. Miller tried to force Rasmus at second but the throw went into right field, with Rasmus advancing to third. Determining that the throw would not have beat Rasmus anyway (or Lawrie at first), official scorer Eric Radovich ruled it a hit and an error on Miller that allowed Rasmus to advance to third.

Still with me? OK. Let’s move on.

[+] EnlargeFelix Hernandez
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesFelix Hernandez's ERA rose to 2.55 when the Elias Sports Bureau reversed the official scorer's Aug. 6 decision to credit Hernandez with only three unearned runs.

Lawrie then stole second to put runners at second and third. After Josh Thole struck out, Emilio Bonifacio doubled home Rasmus and Lawrie. Jose Reyes then singled home Bonifacio. Reyes was thrown out trying to steal to end the inning.

Don’t relax yet. This is where the fun starts.

Based on rules that determined there should have been three outs before any runs scored, Radovich counted all three runs as unearned. Lind's leadoff grounder/error should have been out one. Thus, the out on Rasmus' grounder would have been out two. And Thole’s strikeout would have ended the inning. Three outs before a run scored, so no runs are earned.

That’s the way it was scored and that’s the way it stood.

For two weeks.

The Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician for Major League Baseball, saw the scoring differently. Because Rasmus was awarded a hit, Elias said the play could not be counted as what should have been the second out of the inning, and so put the original scoring decision under review. Radovich understands the point of view, but says, “The rulebook is not definitive on how to score these runs in regards to a base runner being hit by a batted ball, as the batter is credited with a hit by rule, although there is also an out made on the play.”

After some debate over how the runs should be scored, Joe Torre -- MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations -- made the ruling roughly two weeks after the actual play. Torre decided the runs should be earned, thereby raising Hernandez's ERA though the Aug. 6 game from 2.39 (which is where it was after Radovich's initial decision) to 2.55.

But wait. We’re not done.

After the runs were ruled earned, the club informed Hernandez that he could appeal the original scoring decision that Miller's throw to second base, if it had been on target, wouldn't have beaten Rasmus for the out. Hernandez did appeal, and we're still awaiting a verdict. If it is ruled that a good throw would have beaten Rasmus and thus the play was an error all the way, the runs would become unearned again.

And you thought scoring was easy.


Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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