With the game knotted up at eight in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Red Sox had their best chance to take a commanding lead over the Astros Thursday night. With two on, Rafael Devers popped up to center field. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa backpedaled to get under the ball, but had to shift at the last moment and could not corral it.
According to Baseball Savant, the ball traveled 211 feet to where Correa dropped it in short center. Despite the last-second readjustment, the umpire called Devers out on an infield fly.
This play was ruled an infield fly.— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 11, 2021
The call was met with dismay from the Boston faithful, due to the fact that Correa wasn’t playing a popup in the infield. The ball was clearly in the outfield, yet that does not matter by the letter of the law. The MLB rulebook states:
An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort,when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
So, although it was not in the infield, the play could still be considered an infield fly because the umpire saw it as a playable ball for Correa.
Red Sox Manager Alex Cora was one of the few people at Fenway Park that did not argue with the umpires. Even after the game, he supported the call.
“One hundred percent,” Cora said. “He was under control. He got to it. [Correa] actually did an amazing job sprinting back. I was okay with it.”
Cora accepted the call in the moment, and it did not hurt that the Red Sox went on to score four two-out runs in the inning. However, it makes you wonder if he would have had a different tone after the game if Boston had lost.
The Red Sox won 12-8, grabbing their first and only win of the Astros series. They are back in action Friday, hosting the Toronto Blue Jays.