|Classic CI: Ellsbury's bat hits Baker's glove.|
In the 5th inning, with one out and one runner on third base, Yankees batter Jacoby Ellsbury hit a 0-0 curveball from Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel softly on the ground to Hammel, who tagged Ellsbury as he ran towards first base and R3 Brett Gardner jogged through home plate; however, Ellsbury's bat had been impeded by Cubs catcher John Baker's glove, the contact qualifying as catcher's interference as defined by Rule 2.00 [Interference], which states, "Defensive interference is an act by a fielder that hinders or prevents a batter from hitting a pitch." The most common defensive interference is catcher's interference wherein a catcher's glove prevents a hitter's bat from completing its natural swing.
Fortunately, to avoid confusion, the Major League Baseball Playing Rules Committee in 2013 deleted the last sentence of Rule 2.00, which at the time stated, "
That brings us to Wednesday at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, where the Baker-Ellsbury catcher's interference penalty would have awarded B1 Ellsbury first base while sending R3 Gardner back to third base with one out (catcher's interference, where the penalty is accepted, is a dead ball).
Instead, Girardi wanted his run and sacrificed Ellsbury to get it—by declining the penalty, Girardi elected to take the play: B1 Ellsbury out on the unassisted putout to the pitcher and R3 Gardner safe at home, the RBI to Ellsbury. Two out.
Catcher's Interference is the rare instance where a managers are empowered to make a decision like their football coaching counterparts—to accept or decline the penalty. Rule 6.08(c):
[The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base when] the catcher or any fielder interferes with him. If a play follows the interference, the manager of the offense may advise the plate umpire that he elects to decline the interference penalty and accept the play. Such election shall be made immediately at the end of the play. However, if the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman, or otherwise, and all other runners advance at least one base, the play proceeds without reference to the interference.Rule 6.08(c) Comment addresses the specific case of a manager declining the interference penalty and accordingly instructs the umpire to keep the play alive, akin to how Obstruction B does not immediately kill the play: "If catcher’s interference is called with a play in progress the umpire will allow the play to continue because the manager may elect to take the play."
Notice plate umpire Reynolds allowed the play to continue through to its completion (though he almost came close to killing it prematurely), which provided Girardi with the opportunity to weigh his options and then strategically decide to decline the interference and accept the play as is.
Video: Catcher's interference penalty is declined as Girardi prefers his Yankees score the run (NYY)