Last night with a runner on third, Matt Cain (in his 5th one-hit start of the year) bunted a 2-strike pitch to the backstop, and Mike Piazza, ever the defensive genius, hustled to the backstop to catch the ball. I say that’s a deadball and a strikeout. The boxscore in my paper indicates it was ruled a foul popout.
From definitions section of the rulebook:
A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which—
(d) Is bunted foul
A FOUL BALL is a batted ball that . . . while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or player, or any object foreign to the natural ground.
CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; . . . In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.
6.05—“the batter” section
A batter is out when—
(a) His fair or foul fly ball (other than a foul tip) is legally caught by a fielder;
(b) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher;
(d) He bunts foul on third strike;
Which of these things occured first? We’ve all seen balls in the air that fielders have touched, but not caught, so clearly the touch comes before possession and not simultaneously with it. I think the proper ruling is that the ball is dead as soon as the ball is touched in foul territory.
However this cannot be the ruling of the official scorer unless the umpire rules it on the field
10.01 “The Official Scorer” section
4) The scorer shall not make any decision conflicting with the Official Playing Rules, or with an umpire?s decision.
So if the ump did not wave deadball at that moment, I don’t think the scorer can tally a K. But such a ruling could easily have been missed, the scorer ought to ask the ump what the ruling was within his 24 hour window.