Soto called out, Boone ejected following bizarre interference play

Rizzo called out on separate interference play in the second inning

May 30th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- The Yankees looked ready to break the game open in the top of the first inning of their 2-1 win on Wednesday evening at Angel Stadium, promptly loading the bases with none out against Tyler Anderson.

Up stepped Giancarlo Stanton, who lifted a towering popup toward the middle of the infield -- a seemingly routine play that would soon have everyone talking.

Second-base umpire Vic Carapazza immediately signaled to call Stanton out on the infield fly rule, and as Angels shortstop Zach Neto stumbled on his attempt to catch the ball, Juan Soto made contact with Neto while returning to second base. Carapazza’s ruling: Soto was also out, an interference double play.

“I was just trying to catch the ball. That’s it,” Neto said. “I know [Soto] didn’t try to do it on purpose, so it was bad timing on his part. There was no intention for me to get in his way, or from him to get in my way. It just happened, just trying to catch the ball. The umpires told me every big league shortstop catches that ball.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone dashed from the first-base dugout to argue the umpires’ decision, which soon resulted in Boone’s third ejection of the season. Bench coach Brad Ausmus who was also involved in the argument, remained in the game, taking over managerial duties against the team he helmed in 2019.

Speaking to a pool reporter after the game, Carapazza read directly from Major League Baseball’s official rules regarding interference being called on an infield fly: “If [the ball is] fair, both the runner who interfered with the fielder and the batter are out.”

“The only time [the runner is] protected is if he was on the base just standing there,” Carapazza said. “So I had him interfering with the infielder and called the infield fly first, which now, the batter is out. The interference after that was the second out.”

Boone called it “a wonky play,” later acknowledging that, “by the letter of the law, it was probably the right call.”

“I don’t know what Juan [is supposed to do],” Boone said. “You can say, ‘He’d better get there,’ but once he commits to getting there and 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 there in the first inning and you’ve got a really good pitcher on the ropes.”

The play was similar to one that ended a game between the Orioles and White Sox on May 23, when Chicago baserunner Andrew Vaughn was judged to have interfered with Baltimore shortstop Gunnar Henderson.

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.”

Following the incident this past week, White Sox general manager Chris Getz said that he was told by Major League Baseball that “it is a judgment play [and] that there is discretion” on the part of the umpires not immediately to call interference.

Carapazza said that the plays are “a little bit different” because the infield fly was called first in Wednesday’s game.

“The sequence matters,” Boone said. “There's some nuance and judgment that can go in there. This was obviously different in that there was contact, and Neto clearly hit him and affected the play. But it's probably something that can hopefully get revisited a little bit.”

The contest also featured a play that Angels manager Ron Washington objected to, when baserunner Anthony Rizzo made contact with a DJ LeMahieu ground ball to the left side of the infield. Rizzo was out, but it protected the Yankees from a potential double play.

“It was a judgment call, and they didn’t think it was on purpose,” Washington said. “But he was cool with the way he did it. That was a very smart play.”

As for Boone’s ejection, Carapazza said that the manager “said something he wasn’t supposed to say. I’ll leave it at that.”

“I was probably a little offensive,” Boone said, with a slight smirk.