Phillies lose to Marlins in game played under protest

Ryan Howard follows through on a single in the first inning. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
Ryan Howard follows through on a single in the first inning. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
Posted: September 04, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - This ballpark could offer no more appropriate farewell. Fewer than 3,000 people dotted the Sun Life Stadium stands at first pitch Sunday. As the Marlins ran onto the field, they noticed the grounds crew had forgotten to install the bases.

The Phillies played their final game in this veritable baseball hell, and they protested. Then they lost, 5-4, in 14 innings to the Florida Marlins - and no one is quite sure what happened in the sixth inning, if the subsequent eight innings will even count, or if by some merciless circumstance they will have to return to this stadium.

"I'll be glad to get out of here," said Roy Halladay, for whom they once excavated a pitching rubber here.

"The unexpected is expected in baseball," said David Herndon, who intentionally walked five batters and took the loss.

Ultimately, the Phillies suffered back-to-back road losses for the first time since June 5. They are 71/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves, who visit Citizens Bank Park for three games beginning Monday. Sunday's game was won by Florida in the 14th inning when Herndon walked in the winning run.

But the play in dispute came long before that, in the sixth inning when the game was tied at 2. Ryan Howard walked to begin the inning, and Hunter Pence hit a deep fly to right. Marlins rightfielder Bryan Petersen leaped at the wall, and the ball ricocheted to the corner for a double.

Immediately, Petersen pointed to the fans above him. Replays showed a Phillies fan reached over with his red cap and deflected the ball, but it was unclear if Petersen would have even made the catch sans interference. Marlins manager Jack McKeon asked crew chief Joe West for a replay.

At question is whether the play was actually reviewable. Replay is to "assist the umpires only in regard to plays involving home runs or potential home runs," according to the rules provided by Major League Baseball.

"I got two managers on the field," West said. "One was arguing he wanted an out. The other was arguing he wanted a home run."

But Charlie Manuel said he never requested a review. He stood on the third base line, far away from West, who engaged McKeon before heading to the video screens. Manuel questioned the true motivation for review. West claimed that because the Phillies argued it was a home run, it was reviewable.

"Now we've got a decision as to whether the spectator inference happened over the fence or before the fence," West said. "I didn't assume anything. We went to look at the replays because there was a possibility it could have been a home run. Once we look at the home run, we have to take into account all the evidence. That's my statement."

Even McKeon wondered about the validity.

"Isn't what we want from the umpires, to get it right?" McKeon said. "Did they get it right? Yes. Did they make a mistake in how they went about getting it right? Yes."

After a 12-minute delay, the umpiring crew emerged from the tunnel, and West pointed at Pence on second base and signaled out. Rule 3.16 says, "If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out."

Howard was returned to first base. Raul Ibanez followed with a non-interfered-with double, and Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked. Then, Wilson Valdez bounced into an inning-ending double play. Had Pence's double stood, Ibanez would have driven in two runs.

"They assumed he was going to catch the ball, and assuming is not how it's played," said Manuel, who stewed alone in the visitors clubhouse for eight innings after being ejected.

Manuel protested the interpretation of the rule, believing the umpires could not review a defensive play. He was also upset the umpires assumed Petersen would catch the ball.

"When you run and you jump and you hit the fence," Manuel said, "a lot of times you'll miss the ball."

Halladay admitted the 12-minute delay and long inning could have hurt him. He was done after six and allowed three runs. Long after that, Herndon escaped two bases-loaded jams but not a third. The Marlins stranded 23 runners on base and still won.

Manuel could not watch the final eight innings in his office because the TV was broken, a perfect final insult.

"If it takes the loss away, we'll come back," Manuel said.

But a protested game has not been resumed in 25 years, so odds are this stadium provided one last cruel goodbye.

Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at or @magelb on Twitter.


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