Yankees: Why was JA Happ allowed to block plate on weird passed ball?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: J.A. Happ #33 of the Minnesota Twins delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning of the game at Target Field on May 17, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The White Sox defeated the Twins 16-4. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: J.A. Happ #33 of the Minnesota Twins delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning of the game at Target Field on May 17, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The White Sox defeated the Twins 16-4. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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Most Yankees fans were excited on Thursday night in Minnesota to get their first crack at JA Happ since the team acquired him at the 2018 trade deadline.

Of course, that was when he starred in August and September before turning his New York legacy to dust with a terrible postseason start at Fenway Park.

Then, the drama only built from there, leading to a skipped start contract dispute (Happ had a right to be angry) and a postseason relief appearance in Deivi Garcia’s wake (Happ did not have a right to be angry) in 2020.

The lefty signed with the Twins, and after a sterling few starts, his previous five outings prior to this start were flat dreadful. After two straight good offensive games (seriously!), the Yankees were licking their lips to get to the plate in the first inning — and Giancarlo Stanton delivered with a three-run shot!

Then, as they often do, things got weird.

Gio Urshela followed the blast to dead center with a poke off the right-field wall, which became a triple (and nearly an inside-the-park home run). Gary Sanchez threatened to strand him for good with a whiff, as did Miguel Andújar before a two-strike pitch bounded away from the catcher and Urshela broke for home.

He was safe! No…he was…out? But only because Happ slid into the plate and sat directly on it.

Yankees: Why was JA Happ allowed to block home plate?

Replay showed Urshela was out, but he certainly didn’t have a lane to get his hands past Happ, who slid on the plate, plopped upon it, and wrangled a loose ball in his bare hand before finding a finger to tag.

Didn’t we outlaw catchers blocking the plate several years ago? If not for that rule, surely Gio would’ve truck-sticked Happ.

If that’s the letter of the law, then why are expectations different for pitchers who are bumbling around by home plate? There was legitimately nothing Urshela could do to score here, so long as the ball ended up in the general vicinity of Happ’s palm.

The correct call was made here, but it all felt extremely dumb.

Congratulations to Happ for getting the perfect bare-knuckle bounce and the out. Rolling our eyes forever at this.