Yankees’ Kiner-Falefa pledges not to repeat Saturday’s ‘dumb’ mistake’

Yankees’ Kiner-Falefa ends up with a defensive and a base-running error against Texas at Yankee Stadium on June 23, 2023.

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In the fifth inning, Isiah Kiner-Falefa made an attempt to steal second base against the Rangers. Despite his foot briefly coming off the base, umpire John Bacon ruled him safe. However, Kiner-Falefa, assuming he was already out, started walking towards the Yankees’ dugout and was then tagged out by second baseman Marcus Semien at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees’ utility player held himself accountable for a significant blunder during the team’s devastating 4-2 defeat against the Rangers. He acknowledged his mistake and openly admitted:

“That’s another dumb play that can’t happen. I heard someone scream `Out!’ in my ear. It might have been Marcus. It might have been the umpire.”

The big mistake by Isiah Kiner-Falefa

The mistake by Isiah Kiner-Falefa occurred after the umpire initially ruled him safe during a stolen base attempt in the fifth inning, with one out and the score tied at 1-1. Though he reached the second base, he left it thinking that he was out and began heading toward the dugout, only to be tagged out later.

Despite appearing to lose contact with the base while being tagged, Isiah Kiner-Falefa was initially called safe by the umpire after sliding in. However, replays revealed the possibility of him being called out if the Texas Rangers had challenged the call, as it seemed he had indeed lost contact with the bag while the tag was applied.

Upon hearing a voice, potentially that of second baseman Marcus Semien, shouting “Out!”, Isiah Kiner-Falefa assumed it was the umpire’s call. Mistakenly interpreting it as a signal to retreat, he began jogging toward the dugout. However, Semien quickly caught up to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, tagged him out, and consequently dashed the Yankees‘ rally.

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that Isiah Kiner-Falefa heard someone calling him “out,” likely a player from the opposing team. Boone believed that even if he had remained on the base, the replay would have shown him as out. Nonetheless, Boone emphasized the importance of being certain in such situations.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa was unhappy with himself.

“That’s just a bonehead play that cost us a rally,” he said. “That can’t happen.”

He made another mistake

Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s blunders were not limited to his baserunning error. Prior to that, he made a defensive mistake in the fourth inning by committing an error while the Rangers had a runner on first base and two outs against Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt.

Despite the two outs, Leody Taveras hit a shallow pop-up into center field. However, Isiah Kiner-Falefa hesitated and made a cautious play, which resulted in the ball dropping in shallow center field. He explained that he was attempting to locate shortstop Anthony Volpe while playing it safe. As a result, Ezequiel Durán managed to score from first base, tying the game, and Taveras advanced to second base.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa admitted to being caught in a difficult situation, hesitating slightly and prioritizing the location of shortstop Anthony Volpe. He took responsibility for the game’s outcome, acknowledging that he should have kept the ball in front of him instead of trying to play it safe. Isiah Kiner-Falefa recognized the need to learn from the experience and make adjustments in similar situations, either by sliding and calling for the ball late or allowing it to drop in front of him.

Boone commented that he personally had difficulty tracking the ball off the bat, attributing it to the challenging lighting conditions during that time of the evening. He acknowledged that he didn’t make a good read or react quickly enough, resulting in the ball dropping in for a hit.

Despite his earlier mistakes, Isiah Kiner-Falefa managed to contribute to the team’s late-game rally. He started the sequence by hitting a single, advanced to third base following a Billy McKinney single, and ultimately scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Kyle Higashioka.

It has been an eventful and unpredictable week for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, as he showcased his versatility on multiple fronts. Along with delivering a scoreless inning on the mound and hitting a home run during Thursday’s lopsided defeat against the Mariners, he was also called upon to pitch in a loss to the Red Sox on June 16. After struggling as the starting shortstop last season, Isiah Kiner-Falefa has become a valuable asset for the Yankees, having played in six different positions, including 31 games in center field. In terms of offensive performance, he currently holds a batting average of .244 and an OPS of .645 across 60 games.

The initial defensive mistake, although committed during the game, held little significance due to the team’s dominant win.

However, the subsequent error, occurring on the basepaths, proved to be more impactful as it hindered the Yankees’ chances of seizing an early advantage, especially considering their ongoing offensive struggles. Despite Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s contribution of a single and a run scored in the eighth inning, which helped push the game into extra innings, he took full responsibility by acknowledging that the outcome of the game rested partially on his shoulders.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa mentioned that if the run hadn’t scored during his at-bat, the Yankees would have secured victory in the ninth inning itself, thereby avoiding the need for the game to extend into the tenth inning.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa promised himself that the mistake he made wouldn’t occur again in the future, emphasizing the importance of avoiding such errors.

“At the same time, if that run doesn’t score, we win the game right there in the ninth inning. We don’t even go to the 10th. It’s something that can’t happen and hopefully won’t happen again.”

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