Andrelton Simmons came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning with one out and the Braves trailing by three runs thanks to their shoddy defensive play. With runners at first and second, Simmons lifted a pitch from reliever Mitchell Boggs into shallow left field. Shortstop Pete Kozma raced out, maybe 50 feet into the outfield, and settled under the ball with left fielder Matt Holliday closing in behind him. Then, curiously, Kozma stopped and let the ball drop. Left field umpire Sam Holbrook, meanwhile, called the infield fly rule.
Many in the crowd of 52,631 turned raucous once they learned Simmons was ruled out. They began tossing trash onto the field and warning track. Cardinals players converged around second base to avoid the debris, and the Braves retreated to the dugout. The game was delayed as the grounds crew cleaned up the mess. Ordinary flyballs to the outfield later in the game were mocked with chants of “Infield fly!” from the crowd.
“I saw the shortstop go back and get underneath the ball where he would have had ordinary effort and would have caught the baseball, and that’s why I called the infield fly,” said Holbrook, who added that he didn’t second-guess the call after seeing the replay.
Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations, said he told umpiring crew chief Jeff Kellogg during the delay that he was disallowing the Braves’ protest. After the game, Torre explained to Braves General Manager Frank Wren and Manager Fredi Gonzalez that he did so because baseball rules don’t allow a protest of a judgment decision.
“It’s a little unusual circumstances based on the one-game playoff, so as far as the [normal] 24 hours and waiting for a written report, practicality, it just didn’t make sense,” said Torre, who also said he thought the correct call was made.
“I was arguing or protesting that it was not an ordinary effort,” Gonzalez said. “I thought that the shortstop had to go way out there to make a play on that flyball . . . and I thought there was some miscommunication between Holliday and Kozma.”
Said Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny: “Our guys would have made this a whole lot easier if we make the play, and they make that play 99 times out of a hundred. It just didn’t happen that time. I was just happy to see that the umpires stayed with the right call, because once that call is made, it sticks.”