Yankees’ most bizarre win: Ump calls out Soto for interference with DP, ejects Boone

Yankees manager Aaron Boone reacts after his ejection and Juan Soto after called out for interference during the 2-1 win over the Angels on May 29, 2024 at Anaheim.
Joe Najarian
Thursday May 30, 2024

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A chaotic first inning on Wednesday night turned a promising New York Yankees rally against the Angels into a whirlwind of controversy and resulted in the ejection of manager Aaron Boone. Despite the Yankees’ 2-1 win, the bizarre incident will remain in MLB lore forever.

With the bases loaded and no outs against Angels starter Tyler Anderson, Giancarlo Stanton‘s pop-up to second base was immediately ruled an infield fly by the umpire. Though inconsequential to the out on Stanton, the ball did land, with Angels shortstop Zach Neto attempting the catch.

As Neto tracked the fly ball near second base, he collided with Yankees outfielder Juan Soto, who was returning to the bag. The contact caused Neto to stumble and miss the catch. Umpire Vic Carapazza, sensing interference by Soto, called him out, transforming the situation into a sudden double play.

Boone, incensed by the call, erupted from the dugout along with first-base coach Brad Ausmus, both arguing vociferously with the umpires. Soto also expressed his displeasure with the decision. The animated exchange resulted in Boone’s ejection, the third time this season he’s been tossed. After a final outburst, the game resumed, but the Yankees’ momentum had vanished. Alex Verdugo grounded out to first, ending the inning with no runs scored.

Brad Ausmus, who managed the Angels in 2019, took over Yankees managerial duties for the remainder of the game, a 2-1 victory for New York.

Boone acknowledges bizarre play for Yankees

Boone conceded it was an unusual play after witnessing Luis Gil’s strong outing from the clubhouse. Though he wasn’t sure about Soto’s positioning but defended him saying that once the slugger committed to reaching the base, he was trying to avoid being hit by the batted ball, as he had nowhere to go. The Yankees manager added that if Neto had caught it, he might have secured a double play by catching it on the bag. While it was a tough way to start after loading the bases against a formidable pitcher like Anderson, Boone conceded that the call was probably correct based on the MLB rules.

“Obviously a wonky play,” he said. “I don’t know what Juan’s — you can say he better get there, but once he commits to getting there, he’s trying to stay out of the way. If Neto catches it, he might catch it on the bag for a double play. It’s like, where do you go? So obviously a tough way to start things when you load the bases in the first inning and you got a really good pitcher [Tyler Anderson] on the ropes. But by the letter of the law, probably the right call.”

Carapazza told a pool reporter that he didn’t believe Soto intentionally made contact to interfere with Neto, though intent is not required for an interference call. The umpire explained that the only time a runner was protected only if he was standing on the base. He said he had ruled Soto interfered with the infielder and initially called the infield fly, which made the batter out. The subsequent interference call accounted for the second out.

Yankees' Juan Soto and umpire are arguing over the controversial interference call vs. the Angels on May 29, 2024 at Anaheim.

Boone indicated there was some nuance and judgment involved in such situations. According to him, Soto was in jeopardy of being doubled off if he didn’t reach the base. He added that if a runner doesn’t execute the “get-back” properly, they could get stuck, as Soto did when Neto likely misjudged the play slightly and backed into him. Boone questioned what a runner is supposed to do in that scenario.

Angels pitcher Neto admitted he was just trying to catch the ball and knew Soto didn’t intend to interfere, attributing it to bad timing on the Yankees slugger’s part. He clarified there was no intention from either party to get in each other’s way, adding that it just happened as they were both trying to catch the ball. Neto said the umpires told him every big league shortstop should have caught that ball.

Regarding Boone’s ejection, Carapazza simply stated that the manager had said something he wasn’t supposed to say, leaving “it at that.”

The Yankees manager acknowledged using offensive language toward umpire Carapazza.

The MLB rule

The contentious play stemmed from the infield fly rule, which explicitly states that such batted balls remain live, even after the batter is ruled out. This allowed Carapazza to call interference on Yankees slugger Juan Soto for impeding Angels shortstop Zach Neto’s attempt to catch the pop-up, resulting in a double play.

MLB Rule 6.01(a) states: “A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not.”

Remarkably, this was only the second instance in MLB history of a runner being called for interference on an infield fly, following a similar game-ending play involving the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. However, in that case, the contact between Andrew Vaughn and Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson was minimal, leading MLB to reportedly overturn the call the next day.

Carapazza noted the key difference from a recent White Sox-Orioles play was that he had called the infield fly first, making the batter out, whereas that wasn’t the case in the other instance.

Given the differing circumstances and more forceful contact, the Yankees may not receive a similar reversal from the league.

Despite the lost scoring opportunity, the Yankees secured the win, largely thanks to starter Luis Gil’s stellar outing. The right-hander allowed just one run on two hits while striking out nine over eight innings.

The game also featured another disputed play when Yankees baserunner Anthony Rizzo made contact with a DJ LeMahieu ground ball, preventing a potential double play. Angels manager Ron Washington objected, but Rizzo was ruled out.

Boone also disagreed with the official scorer’s decision on Tuesday to overturn an error charged to Rizzo in the eighth inning, instead ruling a single on a bobbled ball that led to earned runs against reliever Luke Weaver.

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