The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have had some dramatic disagreements over the years, but Saturday's game at Fenway Park featured one of the strangest wrinkles in their rivalry to date.
With the game tied 1-1 in the 11th inning, Yankees designated hitter Matt Holliday made a bold move. After being called out on a force play at second, the 37-year-old veteran charged back to first base in an effort to break up the potential double play. Holliday slid hard, and Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland watched the ball zip by his glove and hit base runner Jacoby Ellsbury, causing him to be called safe.
Check out the bizarre scene.
The Yankees quickly made their final two outs of the frame to strand Ellsbury at first, eventually winning the game 4-1 after 16 innings. But while Holliday's surprising gambit had no direct effect on the outcome, the Red Sox still filed the game under protest.
"I still firmly believe there was interference on the play," Red Sox manager John Farrell said on Sunday. "If it goes unaddressed or goes without any kind of further attention brought to it, who's to say you can't instruct runners to do the same going forward?"
The rules of baseball prevent interference. According to Rule 6.01(a)(5), "It is interference by a batter or runner when...Any batter or runner who has just been put out, or any runner who has just scored, hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate."
Farrell asked the umpires to review the play, but after contacting the Replay Operations Center in New York for what was termed a "rules check," it was determined that no interference had occurred. Farrell then informed officials that the game would be put under protest.
"If there was no interference, [Moreland] would've had access to the bag," Farrell said. "He was taken out of it by the returning runner."
Holliday claimed he didn't realize he had been called out at second.
"I assumed that he was going to tag [first] base and throw to second for the tag," he said. "I wasn't going to run into a tag. As soon as he hit the ball, I'm thinking, Ellsbury's running, he's going to touch the base and try to get the tag at second."
MLB will now decide whether or not to heed the Red Sox's protest and replay the game, though any action is unlikely. The league does not typically uphold protests based on calls that weren't relevant to the outcome of a game.