Aaron Boone and Giancarlo Stanton thought even when the umpires reversed a call turning a ruled foul ball to a double off the bat of the slugging outfielder, they still got it wrong.
With the Yankees getting shutout and trailing by three runs with two outs in the eighth inning Thursday, Stanton blasted a ball about midway up the rightfield fence, hitting the fair/foul divider on the wall -- below the foul pole. Stanton, who was running hard from the moment of contact, continued sprinting the bases, unaware that first-base umpire Greg Gibson signaled home run.
“I don’t know what was going on there,” Stanton said. “I just knew it was fair.”
But the umpires didn’t. In a strange sequence of calls, started by Gibson waving his finger for a home run, the four umpires met in the middle of the field. Crew Chief Jerry Layne said Gibson said “I’m trying to get some help here” and they discussed the play, ruling a foul ball.
Boone argued, the play was challenged and after review, Stanton’s hit was ruled fair and the outfielder was awarded second base. Aaron Hicks was awarded home after starting the play on second base.
“(Gibson) thought it was a home run and he didn’t see it very clearly because it was ricocheting like you all see it from your angles or the TV,” Layne said. “It was changed by replay. We got together. We thought we would get it possibly right and that’s the goodness about replay. Boone was able to say ‘OK, well that’s not what I think happened,” and challenged it.”
But with Stanton running hard out of the box, he was nearly at third base before realizing the play was ruled a home run. Both he and Boone said after the game they believed Stanton deserved a triple, however, the umpires didn’t agree and sent Stanton back to second base.
“Going from fair to home run to foul to having us have to do replay, it should have been a triple from (outfielder Mallex) Smith’s reaction to how far it bounced off,” Stanton said. “It should have just been a triple.”
Miguel Andujar grounded out to shortstop for the final out of the inning, stranding Stanton at second and the Yankees lost, 3-1, to the Rays.
“Unfortunately that always seems to be the default ‘Just make it a double,’ which is what I was upset about,” Boone said. “How consequential it was? I don’t know that. But I feel like in those spots, let’s grind a little harder, especially Giancarlo’s striding it out, and clearly would have been at third base.”
Stanton, who has been strictly serving as the designated hitter since Aug. 7 with a hamstring issue, looked strong moving the basepaths, Boone said.
“He did a good job of not playing umpire and just running hard,” Boone said. “And I’m screaming because I’m always cognition of him and just like ‘Easy.’”
Even with Andujar grounding out in the next at-bat, there’s no definitive way of knowing if sending Stanton to second as opposed to third changed the outcome of the loss. But it’s a possibility.
“It could change more with less than two outs,” Stanton said, “but only difference there if I’m on third is ball in the dirt or something. It could still change it.”