"When you try to remedy that one fluke play that you see once in a lifetime," Francona said on Wednesday, "it may open up other things that you don't necessarily want to do. ... I think you just have to swallow it and say, 'We got unlucky.'"
With no outs in the seventh of the Tribe's 9-2 loss to Cincinnati, Cleveland had runners on first and second base and was trailing, 6-1. Yan Gomes sent a pitch from Reds starter Johnny Cueto to the wall in right-field for an RBI double, but an unusual scene quickly unfolded.
At the precise moment that Reds right fielder Jay Bruce retrieved the baseball, Cincinnati reliever Jumbo Diaz threw a wild pitch while warming up in the bullpen behind the right-field wall. Diaz's errant throw landed in the vicinity of cutoff man Kris Negron, who caught the relay throw from Bruce.
David Murphy advanced from first to third base and intended to stop, but took a few steps toward the plate after seeing a baseball (the one thrown by Diaz) in the outfield grass. Murphy was then thrown out by shortstop Zack Cozart while trying to dive back into third, creating a key out that helped the Reds end Cleveland's rally.
Francona discussed the situation with third-base umpire Gerry Davis, but there was nothing to be done.
"The play hadn't stopped. That was the thing," Francona said. "The [shortstop] looked like he was starting to call time, but then he realized they had Murph off the bag. If he flips his hands up and calls time, that play is done. But, [the umpires] can't stop it unless the lights go off or there's an injury. So, maybe if Murph grabbed his calf or something. I don't know."
One theory is that the play could have been treated like a ground-rule double, but Francona said the play was so fluky that he did not think it was worth trying to convince MLB to examine the rules in place.
"I don't think you'll see that again," Francona said. "We just got caught in a little bit of an unlucky situation. Nobody screwed us. That's just, take your medicine."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.