Chase Utley's slide in the seventh inning was probably not the cleanest.
He slid hard into Ruben Tejada behind second base at Dodgers' Stadium to break up a double play, injuring the Mets' shortstop. The game-tying run scored.
Neither Utley nor Tejada touched the bag at second base, however. But after a delay and a review, Utley was ruled safe. The umpires determined that because Utley was ruled out initially, he never was required to touch second base. So by overturning the umpire's call there, Utley was safe.
The "neighborhood play" was also not in effect there. A shortstop or second baseman does not have to touch the base in an instance of staying out of the runners' way. If a neighborhood play occurs, and the middle infielder gets close enough to the base so that the umpire thinks the runner is out, he will be called out. These types of plays are not reviewable.
In this instance, however, Major League Baseball determined that because the throw was off the bag to begin with, and Tejada having to make that spin, that was a force play and not a neighborhood play, making it a force play, which is reviewable. And because Utley never touched second base, he was called safe.
Regardless, the slide was dirty. It doesn't look like Utley even tried to slide into the bag, and stuck his hand out to make it appear like he wanted to get into the base. But by taking out Tejada, especially with a possibly playoff-changing injury in a broken right fibula, Utley's slide, or tackle as some like to refer it, was not clean.
MLB Rule 6.01(6) states as follows:
If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.
If MLB enforced that rule, Utley should have been out by interference and no run would have scored. However, it isn't enforced like it should be.
Joe Torre, MLB's Chief Baseball Officer, noted that these types of plays will be under consideration for a rule change. Additionally, MLB will try and experiment with them in the Arizona Fall League.
"...in the Fall League we're having the players work on sliding directly into the bag, just to see how that works and stuff," Torre said in a press conference.
The Dodgers went on to win the game 5-2 and the Mets' regular shortstop Tejada is out for the rest of the postseason. This NLDS series took a huge swing just because of a slide into second base.