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.

 

Athletics acquire Jeurys Familia from Mets

Jeurys Familia
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The Athletics have acquired closer Jeurys Familia from the Mets, per official announcements from the teams. The Mets will receive minor league right-hander Bobby Wahl and third base prospect William Toffey in the deal, as well as $1 million in international slot money.

Familia, 28, has drawn significant interest from as many as seven or eight teams over the last week or so. While the right-hander hasn’t hit any career-best marks this season, he’s more than held his own with a 2.88 ERA, 2.54 FIP and 1.2 fWAR over 40 2/3 innings in 2018. He’s positioned to enter free agency at the end of the year, and the A’s are expected to absorb the remaining $3 million on his contract before he does so.

The Mets, meanwhile, came away with two lower-level players in the trade. The 26-year-old Wahl has just 7 2/3 innings of major league experience under his belt and issued four runs, four walks, and eight strikeouts during his first seven games with the A’s in 2017. He’s been far more productive in Triple-A Nashville this year, racking up 11 saves in 27 chances and pairing that with a ridiculous 2.27 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 14.7 SO/9 through 39 2/3 innings.

MLB Pipeline ranked Toffey no. 17 in the A’s system prior to the start of the 2018 season, noting his above-average defense but casting some doubt on his ability to hit for both average and power in the majors. The 23-year-old corner infielder is still getting his sea legs in High-A Stockton, where he’s batting .244/.357/.384 with five home runs and a .741 OPS in 197 PA.