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Kang Jung-jo of the Pittsburgh Pirates singles in a run off Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Urena during the first inning of their game Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Kang, who started at third base and hit fifth in the batting order, went 2-for-3 in the Pirates’ 5-1 victory. The former Nexen Heroes player is hitting .316. in his first year in Major League Baseball. [AP/NEWSIS]

I'm having trouble understanding the phrase singles in a run off.

The word single has two meanings relevant to baseball:

  1. to cause the advance of (a base runner) by a one-base hit.

  2. to cause (a run) to be scored by a one-base hit (often followed by in or home).

I guess #1 is correct in the referenced article.

I'm not sure how single and in a run are related.

Additionally, does off mean against?

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    It might be clearer if you divide it thusly: "singles in a run // off Marlins pitcher Urena". Thus you are looking at 2 phrases, not one.
    – Oldcat
    May 29, 2015 at 23:17

3 Answers 3

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Actually #2 is correct. What the sentence is saying is that Kang Jung-Jo hit a single which allowed a previous batter's run to complete (ie a previous batter made it all the way around the bases), thus scoring a point. Kang 'singled in' a previous player's run.

'Off' is used in reference to the pitcher. You might hit a home run off your brother's pitch, for example.

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Actually, the word single have two meanings in baseball, but neither of your meanings is perfectly correct.

Single can be a noun, in which it simply means a one-base hit. As a verb, it means to get a one-base hit. It has nothing to do with what happens to the men on base, except that if you reach first base and someone else is out on the play, it's not considered a hit at all.

Double, triple and homer have parallel meanings for multi-base hits.

A run, of course, is a point scored in baseball, every time a player successfully circles the bases and reaches home plate.

So to single in a run is to get a one-base hit that allows a base runner to score (usually from second or third base). Off the pitcher, as correctly answered above, indicates that Jose Urena was the pitcher who allowed Kang the hit that resulted in a run batted in (RBI) on that play. So you are right in thinking that here, off basically means against.

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As Steven Littman suggests in his answer, the verb singles means "to hit a ball and safely reach first base, while moving any runners already on base over to at least the next available base safely." When a one-base hit enables a runner already on base to score (by reaching home plate safely), the idiomatic way of expressing the achievement is to say that the batter (or the batter's hit or [in this case] the batter's single) drove in the runner (or drove in a run).

But why "drove in" or "singled in"? In baseball parlance, a runner who successfully scores a run "comes in to score"; and if he scores because someone else got a hit (a single a double, a triple, or a home run) or even a productive out, that hitter is said to have "driven him in."

In baseball scoring, runs are "charged" to the pitcher who originally let the runner get on base. But when a batter hits safely, as Steven Littman observes, his hit is described as coming "off" the pitcher who threw that pitch. In this wording, off simply means against.

Put it all together, and you have

Kang Jung-jo of the Pittsburgh Pirates singles in [that is, drives in with a single] a run off [that is, against] Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Urena during the first inning of their game...

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