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Players baffled by infield fly rule

Major League Baseball has found itself embroiled in another postseason maelstrom over umpires, and renewed calls for increased use of instant replay, after a disputed infield fly call led to mayhem in the stands in the one-game, winner-take-all playoff in Atlanta.

The Cardinals defeated the Braves 6-3 Friday, advancing to the NL Division Series. But the game will long be remembered for a ruling by Sam Holbrook in the eighth inning.

Andrelton Simmons hit a pop fly that dropped in leftfield after a mixup between two fielders, either able to have caught the ball easily. Holbrook ruled the batter out anyway under the infield fly rule.

Twitter almost immediately exploded.

"Oh my. Not believing this," former Braves OF Dale Murphy wrote. "Calls an infield fly when the ball is almost on the ground?"

"One-game elimination and a call like that is made? Inexcusable," Athletics RHP Brandon McCarthy said.

"Wow. Infield fly on a 200- footer," added Diamondbacks RHP Daniel Hudson.

In San Francisco, where the Giants hosted the Reds in the other NLDS, the call had everyone's attention.

"I didn't know it was an infield fly," LH reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. "I don't even know how an infield fly is an infield fly. I don't know where the line's drawn."

In MLB front offices, there seems to remain resistance to significant change.

"There's been an outcry for replay," said Joe Torre, MLB's vice president of baseball operations. "To me, it's always the play that happened yesterday. That's what people want replayed, whether it's a tag at the plate, coming off the bag at first, whatever it is."

EMOTIONAL DAY: RH reliever Pat Neshek was overcome when he found out the A's were taking the field wearing patches honoring his late son. "I'll be honest, I completely broke down," he said. "I can't believe the support I've gotten from the team and my teammates. I couldn't be doing this without that." Gehrig John Neshek died 23 hours after his birth Wednesday.

Francona returns

CLEVELAND — Terry Francona was hired as manager of the Indians. Francona, who won two World Series titles with the Red Sox, will take over a team that collapsed in the second half this season after a promising first four months. He will be introduced during a Monday news conference at Progressive Field.

Players baffled by infield fly rule 10/06/12 [Last modified: Sunday, October 7, 2012 12:20am]
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