Astros' rally ends on 'Utley rule' call, Brewers win
MILWAUKEE (AP) The Houston Astros huddled around video monitors in the clubhouse for extra views. Manager A.J Hinch fumed in his office. Ace Dallas Keuchel made his frustration known on Twitter.
The Astros became the latest team in the majors to get a firsthand look at the ''Chase Utley rule.''
Colby Rasmus was called for interference because of the new rule, resulting in a game-ending double play and blunting Houston's ninth-inning rally in a 6-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
''My interpretation is that it's a shame. The game ends on a play that the rule isn't intended to protect,'' said Hinch after the game, his voice cracking.
Down 6-0, the Astros scored four times in the ninth and put runners on first and second with one out.
Jose Altuve hit a bouncer to second baseman Scooter Gennett, who threw to shortstop Jonathan Villar for the forceout. Rasmus slid past the base, and Villar didn't make a relay to first.
Second base umpire Dan Bellino called Rasmus for not trying to stay on the bag, part of the requirement under baseball's new rule governing slides on potential double plays. The call was upheld after the Astros challenged the play.
''My second base umpire determined that it was not a bona fide slide because Rasmus did not attempt to stay on the base. He could not stay on the base,'' crew chief Tom Hallion said. ''With that, that is the rule of interference.''
Keuchel had a different opinion.
''Are we even playing baseball anymore??? Unbelievable,'' the opinionated Cy Young Award winner said on Twitter.
It was the second time this week that ''Utley rule'' call ended a game. Toronto lost two runs and a potential win when Jose Bautista was called for interference at Tampa Bay.
Jeremy Jeffress was credited with his second save after getting the double play, in spite of allowing a hit and walk in the ninth.
''It's a different way to end a game,'' Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, ''but we'll take it.''
Counsell said the ''Utley rule'' was talked about at length during spring training, but players are still learning to adjust. Managers are still learning how to interpret it.
''The rule is the rule and we're going to have to learn how to play with it,'' Counsell said.
Hinch said there needed to be more clarification.
''He slid through the base and didn't hang onto the base. When a play happens late, you're asking major league athletes to essentially shut it down and slide at a pace that isn't competitive,'' Hinch said.
Rookie Tyler White hit a three-run homer in the ninth off Sam Freeman. White also doubled and singled, and is 9 for 13 since making his major league debut this week. He set a franchise record for most hits by a player in his first four games.
White said he was nervous in his first at-bat in the season opener.
''But after that, it's just baseball. It's a game. The same game I've been playing since Little League,'' the 25-year-old White said.
Chase Anderson (1-0) allowed four hits and struck out five in five shutout innings in his Brewers debut. He was acquired in the offseason in a deal that sent starting shortstop Jean Segura to Arizona.
Gennett had a solo homer and Chris Carter added a two-run shot later in the first off Scott Feldman (0-1).
Astros: DH Evan Gattis (sports hernia surgery) had a single in four at-bats in the second night of his rehab assignment at Double-A Corpus Christi. Hinch said that he would consider having Gattis catch during his rehab stint if it extended into next week.
Brewers: Counsell said that he'll stick with a four-man rotation with RH starter Matt Garza on the 15-day disabled list for a strained muscle in his back. Because of off days, Milwaukee wouldn't need a fifth starter until April 17 at Pittsburgh.
Astros: RHP Doug Fister makes his Houston debut on Saturday after signing a one-year deal as a free agent in the offseason. He gave up four runs in four innings in his only start against Milwaukee, a 5-4 loss in 2010 while with Seattle.
Brewers: Opening day starter Wily Peralta (0-1) makes his first career start against Houston.