TORONTO -- A play at the plate in the eighth inning of Tuesday's contest against the Blue Jays had a major impact on Houston's 5-2 series-opening loss.
With one out, and runners on second and third, pinch-hitter Dexter Fowler hit a grounder back to Toronto reliever Brett Cecil, who fielded the ball and tossed it home to nail a sprinting L.J. Hoes at the plate. After home-plate umpire Mike Estabrook ruled Hoes out, Astros manager Bo Porter immediately came out from the dugout.
After Porter challenged the play, the call was confirmed and the review lasted one minute and 26 seconds. Porter said he came out because of multiple issues he had with the play at the plate.
"One, I felt like he blocked the plate before he had the ball and two, I thought Hoes cut underneath the tag," Porter said. "I felt like he tagged him a little high. I thought his foot may have gotten in there."
Under new rules the backstop must give the runner a sliding lane, something Porter wasn't sure Toronto catcher Dioner Navarro did.
"To their thought process, his legs were open, and he had a sliding lane," he said.
Hoes, too, felt the play should have gone in the Astros' favor.
"You can't block the plate without the ball, and from my point of view he was blocking the plate," Hoes said. "Umpire's judgment, umpire's rules, and he ruled I was out."
If this sort of play happened last season, Hoes said he would have initiated contact.
"In the old situation, that's a play where I would try to run the catcher over," he said. "It's different, you have to get used to the rules and play the game differently."