Umpire's controversial tagging ruling leaves Yankees confused

ByColey Harvey ESPN logo
Saturday, April 28, 2018

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Confusion remained the predominant feeling for the New York Yankees late Friday night as a few still struggled to figure out what happened during a bizarre sequence in the middle of their game against the Los Angeles Angels.

As Yankees first baseman Neil Walker's would-be three-run homer was denied to start an inning-ending double play, they still escaped the play with a run. Later replays made some question whether they should have been awarded it.

That run ultimately proved necessary for the Yankees, too. A ninth-inning rally followed by Didi Gregorius' homer in the 10th helped New York sneak past the Angels, 4-3.

"I wasn't sure what was going on," said Yankees left fielder Giancarlo Stanton, one of the key players on the sequence in question. "It was one of those weird plays with the replay and all that."

The strange set of events occurred in the top of the sixth inning when Walker was batting with runners at second and third and one out. Gregorius was at third after reaching on a leadoff bunt single. Stanton was at second base.

Two pitches into Walker's at-bat, he jumped a 0-1 fastball that looked off the bat as if it were going to be a home run.

Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun had different plans. Calhoun, who earlier snared a hard-hit sinking line drive in the gap with a dive, leaped at the wall to grab the ball Walker hit. As his glove came back over the wall with the ball in it, Calhoun turned and threw immediately to second base.

When shortstop Andrelton Simmons caught the throw back to the infield and stepped on second base, second base umpire Angel Hernandez ruled Stanton out. Stanton did not tag up at second and was therefore out, the umpire ruled.

But replays showed that the runner did indeed tag around the same moment Calhoun caught the ball.

"I was pretty sure I tagged up," Stanton said. "At the moment and I thought it was at least close enough to take a look at it. I don't know."

In addition to the controversy over whether Stanton left the base early or not, there was further intrigue about whether the out at second base had occurred prior to Gregorius stepping on home plate. Gregorius, who also tagged up from third, might have crossed the plate a moment after Simmons stepped on second.

Said Walker: "There was certainly some confusion there."

The umpires' ruling was that Gregorius had crossed in time, and thus scored via a sacrifice fly.

"I thought that was the case and so I was just kind focused on that, and when the home plate umpire said he definitely scored, then I shifted our attention," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

The Yankees took the lead 2-1 after the ruling.

Boone added that by the time he realized he could have challenged the veracity of the umpires' claim that Stanton had not tagged up, he had run out of the time allotted to ask for a challenge.

Per MLB rules, plays involving runners tagging from second base are not reviewable. However, Boone could have challenged the play on "boundary" rules since the play began with an event on a boundary (the wall). The league's review office then could have reviewed the entire play and reversed any part of it that was incorrect.

"I shouldn't have waited on the challenge," Boone said. "It's a boundary call. I could've gone [and said to the umpires], if I would've been ahead of it, 'Boundary.' They look at everything in that context."

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