After controversial 8th inning, Cardinals still ahead 6-3

We just saw history, friends.

Those of us watching the inaugural National Wild Card game just saw the deepest infield-fly call in the history of Major League Baseball. We also saw the edges of the playing surface covered with a blanket of debris, thanks to thousands of outraged hometown fans.

It happened in the bottom of the eighth inning. With runners on first and second base and one out, Andrelton Simmons lifted a high ... well, you can call it a high pop, or you can call it a high fly. Either way, St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma ran into short left field, while left fielder Matt Holliday trotted in. There was some confusion, as there sometimes is, and the ball fell to the ground between Kozma and Holliday.

Here. Confusion:


Game-changer! Bases circled! Cardinals' lead endangered!

Except left-field umpire Sam Holbrook had already ruled Simmons out, because of the infield-fly rule; in his judgment, Kozma could have made the catch "with normal effort". In that case, the runners may advance at their own risk, and these runners wound up on second and third. But the Braves would otherwise have had the bases loaded with one out, instead of second and third with two outs.

Fredi Gonzalez argued, to no avail. Fans threw rubbish on the field, which held up the game for a long stretch because you can't play when it's like this:


Once play finally resumed -- after a long, long delay of nearly 20 minutes -- the Cardinals retook their places on the stage, Brian McCann pinch-hit for the pitcher, and Mike Matheny summoned hirsute closer Jason Motte for a four-out save.

McCann walked, loading the bases, and was replaced by pinch-runner Tyler Pastornicky with leadoff man Michael Bourn up next. Motte fell behind 3-and-1, but battled back and blew Bourn away with two fastballs. After all that, the score was still 6-3 after eight innings.

Oh, and apparently the Braves did file an official protest. You might imagine how well that's likely to go for them.

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