MILWAUKEE -- The consensus in the Astros' clubhouse a day after their ninth-inning comeback against the Brewers was foiled by Major League Baseball's new slide rule is that the rule should be changed to allow some interpretation of intent.
In the midst of a four-run rally in the ninth inning that brought the go-ahead run to the plate with one out Friday, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve hit a slow bouncer to Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett, who threw to second to get Colby Rasmus for a forceout. Rasmus was out, but he also slid past the base. Shortstop Jonathan Villar did not even throw to first base to try to complete the double play, but second-base umpire Dan Bellino called interference on Rasmus, resulting in a game-ending double play. The call was reviewed and upheld and the Brewers won, 6-4.
Under the new rule 6.01(j), runners have to make a "bona fide slide," which involves contact with the ground before reaching the base, attempting to reach the base with a hand or foot and being able to remain on the bag at the completion of the slide.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch contends that because Rasmus didn't impede Villar and that Villar didn't attempt to throw to first to double up Altuve, the third out at first base should not have been awarded to the Brewers.
"Not impeding the play and yet still get rewarded with a double play makes no sense to me," Hinch said Saturday. "And the thing that probably sticks out the most to me is the lack of intent or maliciousness, the lack of contact, the lack of anything that a rule was instituted to avoid.
"It's an aggressive slide on a baseball field by a Major League athlete who happened to slide a foot past the base with no damage done and they get to end the game like that. As I look at it -- understanding it didn't have to be interference, it didn't have to be such a controversial topic because there was no interference -- makes it a joke. It needs to be addressed unless something else happens."
Altuve said the rule goes too far.
"Especially with that play last night," he said. "Villar's got zero chance to get me out at first base. … You have to keep protecting players, but at least you have to know if it's any double-play chance and you did something to avoid the double play, then OK, I understand you can be out. If not, you should be safe."
Shortstop Carlos Correa likes the rule but said it should be tweaked to consider whether the fielder covering second base makes a throw to first and whether the runner makes contact with the fielder.
"I mean, [Rasmus] went past the bag, but he didn't touch the runner," Correa said. "If it's an act of aggression to try to hurt a player, then it should be an automatic double play. Villar is not even going to throw to first. If he was going to throw to first and he gets him, then yeah, it's an automatic double play, but [Villar] caught the ball and looked at third. There was not going to be a double play. There was no chance to turn two on that play."