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Brad Penny Lost No-Hit Bid On Wrong Scoring Decision

I'm not sure what the "it could go either way" crowd is seeing, but Brad Penny was robbed of a chance to finish out his no-hit bid by this wrong scoring decision.

As the ol' baseball adage goes, Brad Penny had 'no-hit' stuff today. Literally. Official scorer Ron Kleinfelter felt otherwise, though.

With one out in the sixth, and Penny doing some heavy flirting with a no-hitter, White Sox Brent Morel hit a sharp grounder to Brandon Inge's right behind third base. Inge made a nice play to snag the ball; however, his throw was short and off-line, pulling Miguel Cabrera off the bag at first. Cabrera tried digging the ball out of the dirt and tagging Morel, but couldn't scoop it up. Morel was safe and Penny's no-hitter was not.

On the radio, Dan Dickerson was sure almost immediately that it would be the end of the no-hitter. His partner Jim Price thought so, too. Not having seen the play, being in Atlanta and blacked out from MLB.TV viewing, I was willing to take their word, as they're usually right on the money with their analysis. Some five pitches into the next batter, it was finally ruled a hit and I was ready to put it behind me... until I actually saw the "hit" during a game break of the Braves/Giants game:

 

As you can see in this shoddy iPhone video of my low-def television set from the early 2000s, Inge indeed makes a nice play -- ranging 3-4 steps to his right, deep behind the bag at third -- but he also has time to set his feet and step into a throw to first. Morel was a good couple steps from first when Cabrera went to dig the throw out of the dirt away from the bag -- far enough away from first that, had Cabrera successfully picked it, the tag he applied would've rendered Morel as out.

Kleinfelter didn't think it was reasonable to expect a strong-armed third baseman to make that throw, though [per Jason Beck]:

After a long deliberation, official scorer Ron Kleinfelter ruled that Morel's ground ball down the third-base line forced third baseman Brandon Inge into a difficult throw, one that couldn't be expected to be an out with a reasonable effort. 

The ground ball did not force Inge into an abnormally difficult throw, though. It took him deep(ish) behind the bag, but he had plenty of time to set his feet and make a throw that a majority of the league's third basemen can and do make. Inge himself has made that throw in his sleep and admitted as much after the game, saying he should've made this particular play.

You see infielders getting charged with errors all the time due to poor throws following diving plays because official scorers rightly feel that the error came after having had enough time to gather oneself to finish the play. This play here was no different from those scoring decisions, except that Inge didn't even have to dive. If Inge had to get up and hurry a throw from his knees after a dive or his momentum forced him into a Jeter-like jump throw, then it'd be 100-percent fair to give Morel a hit. That wasn't the case here. 

Unfortunately, due to the scoring decision of Kleinfelter, we'll never know if Penny would've even closed out the game without allowing any other hits. Penny was relieved by Ryan Perry in the 8th inning, which I think ultimately saved Kleinfelter from similar derision Jim Joyce faced June 2 of last year because this wasn't even close.