With the Twins down 1-0 to the Angels, runners on first and second and none out in the ninth today, Justin Morneau hit a little popup to the right of the mound. Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, employing some quick thinking, let the ball drop and turned it into a 1-3-6-3 double play. He followed that up with a walk before striking out Chris Herrmann to end the game.
Which is all well and good for the Angels. But why do we have an infield-fly rule if not for this exact situation?
Obviously, the umpire’s argument here would be that the ball wasn’t up in the air for long and that Frieri wasn’t camped under it. Which is true. It also doesn’t matter:
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.
All the infield fly rule needs to be brought into effect is for a fielder to be able to catch the ball with ordinary effort. That certainly applies here. Frieri had the ball in his sights the whole way and made the decision to let it drop.
The whole spirit of the infield fly rule is to prevent exactly what happened in the ninth inning today. Ted Barrett’s crew blew it by not making the call and possibly cost the Twins the game.