Astros drop game 2 of the series

Astros daily report: Rays 4, Astros 2

Astros daily report: Rays 4, Astros 2
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

A quick recap of Friday night's Astros game against the Rays:

Final Score: Rays 4, Astros 2

Record: 1-1, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Charlie Morton (1-0).

Losing pitcher: Gerrit Cole (0-1).

Star of the game: Despite the score, Gerrit Cole looked dominant for most of his start, giving up just one earned run to go with three unearned after an error extended an inning and cost the Astros their 2-0 lead. Cole managed to get 10 strikeouts over his six innings and finished with 101 pitches.

Notes: After Cole and Morton both got out to hot starts with a combined eight strikeouts over the first two scoreless innings, the offenses traded blows in the third with Michael Brantley getting a two-RBI double in the top of the inning before an error in the bottom of the inning led to three runs for the Rays to take a 3-2 lead. Tampa Bay extended that to 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run off of Cole, then their bullpen took over and wrapped up Houston's first loss of the year, tying the series 1-1.

Up next: The Astros will be back at it for game three of four tomorrow at 5:10 PM. Tyler Glasnow will be on the mound for the Rays while Colin McHugh will return to the mound for as a starter for the Astros after playing his role in the bullpen last season.

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More changes are coming in MLB. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball's fastest players.

Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstruction, and the commissioner's office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcement.

The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunning and creating an increased risk of injuries.

“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessary injuries," Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team's facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”

With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.

“We'll touch on that. We'll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”

Making obstruction a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstruction calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntled players and managers as enforcement is stepped up, but it also means it won't create long replay deliberations.

A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.

MLB changed a different baserunning rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approaching first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.

“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparation was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that," New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”

Increased enforcement could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significant element of MLB's motivation is injury prevention.

Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop's lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.

“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control," Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”

While acknowledging his reputation as a significant offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn't sound too worried about his play.

“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. "It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentional. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”

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