Yankees' Juan Soto called out, Aaron Boone ejected on another bizarre infield fly interference play

New York Yankees' Juan Soto takes off his gloves after a walk during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Saturday, May 25, 2024, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

At one point in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees had the bases loaded, no outs and one manager. Two batters later, they had no runs, three outs and no manager.

The crux of that transition was one truly bizarre play involving Juan Soto.

With the Yankees threatening multiple runs against Tyler Anderson at Angel Stadium, designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton hit a pop fly that was called out via the infield fly rule before it even landed. It did land, though, with Angels shortstop Zach Neto attempting to catch it.

Standing next to second base, Neto tracked the ball and took an abrupt step back, right into Soto as the All-Star slugger was reaching back for second base. Neto fell and failed to catch the ball.

Soto was called out for interference, leading to an irate Yankees manager Aaron Boone stepping out to argue his player’s case. His reward was an ejection.

The result of the pop fly was a double play. The Yankees’ next batter, Alex Verdugo, grounded out to end the threat.

In case you’re not well-versed on the infield fly section of the MLB rulebook, infield flies are explicitly stated to be live balls. That means to the umpires, Soto was still interfering with a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball despite the batter already being out.

Bizarrely enough, this is only the second time a runner has been called for interference on an infield fly rule, as the Chicago White Sox felt the sting in a game-ending play on Thursday. In that case, however, Vaughn was lightly grazed by Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson, who still easily caught the ball.

The White Sox objected to the call as well, and were reportedly vindicated the next day when MLB told them the umpires shouldn’t have made the call. Because of the differing context and forcefulness of contact, the Yankees might not see a similar note.

The good news for the Yankees is that the lost opportunity didn’t stop them from winning 2-1, mostly thanks to starting pitcher Luis Gil’s eight innings of one-run ball with two hits allowed, two walks and nine strikeouts.

Even better, New Yorkers had something even wilder to talk about Wednesday night.

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