Bizarre moment in Friday night's Washington-San Diego game when the Nationals lodged a protest midway through the first inning because the Padres had erroneously listed Adam Russell as the starting pitcher on the lineup card instead of Clayton Richard.
Richard had worked a 1-2-3 first when Nationals manager Jim Riggleman called the Padres on the mistake. Umpires then accepted the protest for an "unannounced substitution", which would be moot if the Nationals win.
It could have gotten dicey had the Padres won because the Nats appeared to have the Padres stone cold. Alas, Washington beat San Diego 5-3 with Matt Capps earning his major-league leading 17th save.
Had the Padres won, a baseball official said Friday night, one of two things likely could have happened:
The protest could be upheld and the game would have to be replayed from the middle of the first.
Or, the league could deny the protest, most likely on the grounds that the pitcher's spot in the batting order had not yet come up and it was clear who was pitching for the Padres.
Being that protests are very rarely upheld, the latter is the most likely scenario.
To find the last protest upheld in the National League, you have to go back to a Pittsburgh-St. Louis game in June, 1986, when then-NL president Chub Feeney upheld the Pirates' protest that umpire John Kibler improperly called a game prematurely on account of rain.
On that night, there were two rain delays. The first totaled 17 minutes, then the game resumed for only two pitches before another rain delay of 22 minutes. Then the game was called with the Pirates losing 4-1. NL rules called for umpires to wait at least 75 minutes during the first rain delay and 45 minutes during a second delay before calling the game.
The last AL protest that was upheld was in the infamous Pine Tar Game between Kansas City and the Yankees in July, 1983.