Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Yankees’ Juan Soto ruled out for interference on controversial call vs. Angels

New York Yankees star Juan Soto became the second baserunner in a week to be called out on a controversial interference call during Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels (GameTracker). 

The play occurred with the bases loaded and no outs during the top of the first inning. Giancarlo Stanton hit a pop-up that led shortstop Zach Neto directly between Soto’s path with second base. Soto bumped into Neto as he attempted to place his leg back on the bag; Neto was, thus, unable to catch the ball, instead falling to the ground himself. That Neto didn’t make the catch was irrelevant with respect to Stanton since the infield fly rule was in effect. Still, Second base umpire Vic Carapazza subsequently deemed Soto out on fielder interference, resulting in a most unusual double play. Here’s a look at the sequence in whole:

The call so frustrated Yankees manager Aaron Boone that he came out to argue, earning the 36th ejection in his managerial career as a result, according to Baseball Reference.

Observant readers will note that Soto’s play was similar in some ways to the one that happened last week with Chicago White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn. Vaughn bumped into an infielder as he retreated to second base; although it didn’t impact the infielder’s ability to make a catch, that didn’t stop third base umpire Junior Valentine from calling him out for interference. 

“So there doesn’t have to actually even be contact,” Valentine said after the game. “If he hinders the fielder in the attempt to field a batted ball, intent is not required and it’s interference.”  

As we noted then, Valentine was correct in his interpretation. MLB Rule 6.01 states that 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.” MLB reportedly reached out to the White Sox after the fact and told them the umpire had the discretion to make that call.

It’s worth pointing out that Soto likely would have been OK if he had touched the base before making contact with Neto. To quote directly from the rulebook: “If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he shall not be called out unless,in the umpire’s judgment, such hindrance, whether it occurs on fair or foul territory, is intentional.”

The Yankees, by the way, would come away from their bases-loaded, no-out situation without a run. Outfielder Alex Verdugo made the third and final out of the inning by grounding out to first.

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