Disputed call nearly causes riot at wild-card game

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Besides, both Torre and Holbrook thought it was the right call.

“It’s all judged on what the fielder does,” said the umpire, who was stationed down the left-field line as part of the expanded six-man crew that is used in the playoffs. “Once that fielder establishes himself and he has ordinary effort on the ball, that’s when the call is made. So it wouldn’t matter whether it was from third base or on the line out there. It’s all based on what the fielder does. That’s what I went on, and that’s what I read.”

The Braves saw the play differently, of course.

“I thought the shortstop had to go way out there to make a play on that fly ball, and I think we’ve got to take into account the crowd _ 50,000 people yelling _ and I thought there was some miscommunication between Holliday and Kozma,” Gonzalez said. “I thought we were going to catch a break there.”

No one was pleased about the way the crowd reacted after the call. Braves president John Schuerholz issued an apology to Major League Baseball and the Cardinals, blaming a small group of fans who “acted in a manner that was uncharacteristic and unacceptable.”

As the Cardinals celebrated another playoff triumph in the clubhouse, someone screamed, “Infield fly!”

“I understand that the Braves are upset by what happened,” manager Mike Matheny said. But, he added, “The umpires were out there. It was the right call.”

Besides, the umpires had nothing to do with Atlanta’s three throwing errors, which allowed the Cardinals to score four unearned runs. Without the defensive miscues by the NL’s top fielding team, that call in the eighth would have been an afterthought, not one that nearly caused a riot.

“Ultimately, when we look back on this loss, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror,” said Jones, whose errant throw in the fourth led to three runs for the Cardinals. “Three errors cost us the ballgame, mine probably being the biggest. Did (the infield fly rule) cost us one out? Did it cost us one run, possibly more? Yes. But I’m not willing to sit here and say that call cost us the ballgame.”

On Twitter, outfielder Jason Heyward said: “When you don’t have anything positive to say it’s best to not speak,” then thanked Braves fans for their support this season.

Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen tweeted: “Can’t point fingers at anyone but ourselves. Didn’t bring our A game as a team and the cards capitalized.”

The play will certainly lead to a clamor for expanded use of instant replay to deal with an epidemic of disputed postseason calls in recent years _ especially with the new one-and-done format.

If nothing else, there were plenty of comparisons to the NFL’s much-maligned replacement refs.

“This was an exciting game,” Torre said. “I’m sorry about the controversy. It’s certainly not something we ever plan on.”

___

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