“My view was that it was interference, regardless of whether it was intentional or not,” Farrell said. “That’s why I protested the game. But there was, after repeated conversations with New York … it was brought back to me that they weren’t going to change the play. And the play stood with no explanation.”
With Holliday at first base and none out in the 11th, Ellsbury chopped a ball to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who threw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts at second base. Holliday broke back toward first base, sliding feet-first into the bag as Bogaerts attempted to complete a double play.
“When the ball was behind me, I’m thinking Ellsbury is running, so I thought [Moreland would] touch the base and throw to second base for the tag out,” Holliday said. “I wasn’t going to run into that out, so I went back to first. I just assumed that he touched the base. He didn’t.”
Bogaerts’ throw clipped Ellsbury in the left leg as Moreland appeared to be screened from catching the ball. Ellsbury was ruled safe, which prompted Farrell to ask crew chief Gary Cederstrom if there had been interference.
The subsequent reviews and explanations took four minutes and 59 seconds before it was ruled that the play would stand.
“[The argument was] whether Holliday should be called out for interference or not,” Cederstrom said. “[The review] is to do with rules check. That isn’t to look at the play. That is to do rules check. John wanted to protest it.”
Interference of that type is not on MLB’s list of reviewable plays.
“[Farrell] wanted him called out for interference running the bases, and we told him, ‘No, we can’t,'” Cederstrom said.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he did not believe Holliday committed interference, referencing a famous play from Game 4 of the 1977 World Series in which Reggie Jackson broke up a potential double play by bumping into a throw from the Dodgers’ Bill Russell.
“It’s a read. He made a read and he ran back,” Girardi said. “He’s sliding into first base. He’s in the base line. He didn’t ‘Reggie’ him.”
Protests are often filed but rarely upheld by Major League Baseball. The most recent incident was in August 2014, when the Giants protested a rain-shortened loss to the Cubs. The league ruled that the game would be resumed because the grounds crew did not put the tarp on the field quickly enough. Prior to that, a protest had not been upheld since 1986.
“It’s on record, so how that’s determined remains to be seen,” Farrell said.