Craig Calcaterra

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Astros’ rally ends on ‘Utley rule’ call, Brewers win

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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.

 

Settling the Scores: Dave Roberts was right to pull Ross Stripling with a no-hitter in progress

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ross Stripling, right, is pulled from the game by manager Dave Roberts, center, during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 8, 2016, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Associated Press
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Quite an eventful night in baseball. No more eventful than in San Francisco.

Dodgers rookie starter Ross Stripling had a no-hitter in progress in the eighth inning of his major league debut against the Giants. And then Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled him. The Giants game back against the pen and then won the game in extra innings.

So why did Roberts pull him? Here’s what he said after the game:

“We made that decision before the game. The most he threw in spring was 78 pitches. He’s coming off Tommy John, he threw 70 innings last year,” Roberts said. “At 100 pitches, that was our number. … I want to keep his future and health in mind. I made that decision if somebody gets on base, we’re going to go to (Chris Hatcher).”

“That’s kind of how it played out, and I think it’s a great story. He pitched well but under no circumstance am I going to even consider putting his future in jeopardy,” he said.

It was the right call. A no-hitter us an individual accomplishment and an historical curiosity. That’s all it is. Stripling was literally making his first ever start. You don’t push a pitcher past his limits and put his arm at risk to chase an individual accomplishment. The Dodgers have suffered loads of injuries to their pitchers in the past two years, they do not need to do anything to risk the health of those who aren’t hurt. The results of a season are more important than any one game, the results of any one game are more important than any neato personal accomplishment.

I expect, after the initial “wow, the manager pulled a guy pitching a no-hitter?” surprise, most people will agree that Roberts made the right call, even if the game ended up being lost. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: good decisions do not always lead to good outcomes and bad decisions do not always lead to bad ones. This is just one of those times.

Roberts got some guff for leaving his starter in too long on Thursday night. On Friday night, however, he did the right thing when he pulled his guy. Every situation is different. In this situation, Roberts did the right thing.

The scores

Tigers 4, Yankees 0 
Mets 7, Phillies 2
Indians 7, White Sox 1
Padres 13, Rockies 6
Orioles 6, Rays 1
Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 7
Pirates 6, Reds 5
Cardinals 7, Braves 4
Brewers 6, Astros 4
Royals 4, Twins 3
Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 2
Rangers 7, Angels 3
Athletics 3, Mariners 2
Giants 3, Dodgers 2

Kyle Schwarber out for the year with torn knee ligaments

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We feared the worst, but hoped for the best. But we’re getting the worst. The Cubs just announced that left fielder Kyle Schwarber full tears to his ACL and LCL in his left leg. He will need surgery and will be out for the entire 2016 season.

For those who missed it last night, Schwarber and center fielder Dexter Fowler converged in an attempt to catch a Jean Segura fly ball in left-center in the second inning against the Diamondbacks. The two collided, but Schwarber took the brunt of the collision and was on the ground clutching at his leg before being carted off.

In the game Kris Bryant moved to left field from third base and Tommy La Stella came in to play third, but going forward it’s likely that Jorge Soler will get more playing time. That is, if the Cubs don’t decide to seek a trade to replace what many expected to be a big offensive year from young Kyle Schwarber, 23, who hit 16 homers in 69 games last year.

Such a shame.