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Delayed gratification: MLB denies protest

Delayed gratification: MLB denies protest

MIAMI -- Nearly two days after shaking hands following a 6-5 win over the Yankees, the Marlins officially were declared the winner of Sunday's disputed game at Land Shark Stadium.

Major League Baseball on Tuesday afternoon denied a protest filed officially on Monday by the Yankees, allowing Sunday's result to stand.

It was a major relief for Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.

"What's the old [saying], 'A thousand-pound gorilla' [on your shoulders]," Gonzalez said. "I've had about two of them."

The grounds for the protest came in the top of the eighth inning, when the Marlins were caught in a substitution snafu.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Marlins pinch-hit outfielder Alejandro De Aza for pitcher Renyel Pinto, who was batting ninth. When the inning ended, Gonzalez informed home plate umpire Tim Timmons of changes. De Aza was to remain in the game and play left field in place of Chris Coghlan. Reliever Leo Nunez entered the game, and he was positioned in Coghlan's leadoff spot.

However, when the eighth inning started, Coghlan was in left field.

Nunez threw one pitch to Derek Jeter, a called strike. At that point, Yankees manager Joe Girardi brought to the attention of the umpires that Coghlan was supposed to be out of the game, with De Aza in left field.

For more than five minutes play was delayed, eventually with Coghlan leaving the field. De Aza headed to left field, only to be replaced by Jeremy Hermida.

The Marlins were leading 6-3 at the time.

Umpire crew chief Jeff Kellogg outlined the protest after the game: "We're going to file an incident report, and all that. The protest is over, the pitcher should have been removed from the game, or the pitch should not have counted. That's the protest. Either or. One or the other should have happened."

The Yankees were hoping the game would have be resumed in the top of the eighth inning with Jeter at the plate and the score at 6-3.

"For me, it wasn't something you could protest," Gonzalez said. "It's embarrassing. Big time embarrassing. You feel like you've got 25 guys, six coaches, staff members, [35,000] people in the stands, and two million viewers [watching]. I'll tell you what, it's not easy. It's embarrassing. To get the protest and an off day, it's a tough couple of days."

Girardi reserved further comment until he could hear more about the ruling. Girardi was first informed of MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy's decision by reporters at Turner Field.

"I still think it's kind of funny what happened, interesting," Girardi said. "I've thought about it many times."

The Yankees and Marlins both were off on Monday. By rule, a team has 24 hours to file a protest, and New York did on Monday.

Gonzalez called several friends around the league on Monday, seeking their opinion on what took place.

"Until you hear from the guys in Major League Baseball, and it's over, you don't have time to relax," Gonzalez said.

Working in favor of the Marlins was Rule 3.05, which states:

"If an improper substitution is made for the pitcher, the umpire shall direct the proper pitcher to return to the game until the provisions of this rule are fulfilled. If the improper pitcher is permitted to pitch, any play that results is legal. The improper pitcher becomes the proper pitcher as soon as he makes his first pitch to the batter, or as soon as any runner is put out."

Additionally, Rule 3.05(c) Comment reads: "If a manager attempts to remove a pitcher in violation of Rule 3.05 (c) the umpire shall notify the manager of the offending club that it cannot be done. If, by chance, the umpire-in-chief has, through oversight, announced the incoming improper pitcher, he should still correct the situation before the improper pitcher pitches. Once the improper pitcher delivers a pitch he becomes the proper pitcher."

Girardi felt Sunday's situation was similar to one earlier in the year, when Rays manager Joe Maddon had a mixup with his designated hitter, resulting in Evan Longoria not starting.

"To me, it seems kind of similar to the situation with the third basemen, where the guy who played the field was the guy who stayed," Girardi said. "Coghlan was the first guy in the first slot in the batting order. And then they put the pitcher in. So I think the first guy should stay. We wrote it up. I spent some time on the phone yesterday going through it."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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