8/7/2014 12:52 A.M. ET
Plate-blocking rule hurts Angels in walk-off loss
By Matthew DeFranks / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Tuesday night's finish between the Dodgers and Angels would have been simpler if it had happened a season ago.
Juan Uribe scored the winning run in the ninth inning, racing home on a soft grounder to third and evading a carefully positioned Chris Iannetta at the plate.
Iannetta placed his left foot just inside the third-base line, giving Uribe a clear path to the plate (and following Rule 7.13) but restricting his motion to snag an errant throw. David Freese's throw went off Iannetta's glove and the Dodgers won, 5-4.
"I was trying to maintain the lane, give Uribe a lane to get to the plate and the throw started tailing into him, so I tried to come across but I was a little bit late and it went off the end of my glove, didn't get a chance to secure it, make a tag," Iannetta said.
Rule 7.13, implemented this season, states that catchers cannot block the plate without having the ball. With the addition of the rule and video replay, the play at the plate is much different than it was a year ago, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"I think if Chris was aggressive going after that ball, there's a chance that that play could be overturned," Scioscia said. "It's a sensitive play, it's going to be called sensitively from replay officials. It's a different play than I grew up with for sure."
The rule forces catchers to consciously think of their positioning instead of simply reacting to quick bang-bang plays.
"You kind of second-guess yourself there," catcher Hank Conger said. "If the ball is tailing, you're like, 'Oh, I have to get in there and make the tag. But at the same time you're like, 'If I go too early and they call obstruction, I don't want to lose the game on that.'
"It's a tough rule. There's too many gray areas and there's too many hiccups to the rule that really hinder our decision-making for a play that is reaction-based."
Angels' first-inning production tops in Majors
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have notched a Major League-high 33 comeback wins this season, but it has been their early offense driving the machinery recently.
The Angels average 0.66 runs per game in the first inning this season -- tops in baseball -- one season after leading the Majors in the same category. In their last five games, the Angels have scored in the first inning three times, winning all three games. They lost the other two times.
What's behind the early firepower and sudden leads? Not much, according to leadoff man Kole Calhoun.
"I don't think it's a product of anything," Calhoun said. "We're trying to score every inning, get some guys on, have some good at-bats early on and getting some runs across."
But Calhoun, himself, may be the answer. The stocky right fielder catalyst is hitting .396/.491/.604 in the first at-bat of a game and has scored 19 first-inning runs.
The Angels have scored four-plus runs in the first inning a Major League-high six times, including twice in the last three games. Most recently, they tagged Dodgers starter Zack Greinke for four first-inning runs on Monday.
"There's no strategy that we've implemented to say, 'We're going to do this to make us score early,'" Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have a good offensive team, and if it meets a pitcher that's not quite locked in for his first 25-30 pitches of a game, we have a chance to score some runs early and we did off of Zack and off of Clayton [Kershaw]."
While the Angels failed to notch a first-inning run off Kershaw, they did plate two in the second and one in the third.
As a team, the Angels are hitting .288 in the first inning (.260 in every other inning) and are 41-20 when scoring first.
"We try to score runs with nobody out in the first inning if we can," Scioscia said.
Freese sits with sore left knee
ANAHEIM -- Third baseman David Freese was held out of the starting lineup Wednesday with a sore left patellar tendon sustained during Tuesday night's 5-4 loss to the Dodgers.
Freese came into the game as a pinch-hitter for John McDonald in the sixth inning and singled to center. He remained in the game to play third base.
Freese said he hurt it during his sixth-inning strikeout against Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday but the injury did not affect him on the field. He did not take batting practice Wednesday.
Freese committed two errors Tuesday night, leading to two unearned Dodger runs, including the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. He has hits in five of his last six games and is hitting .391 with four RBIs over that span. His .251 average is the highest it's been since July 21.
Angels to honor Fregosi before Tuesday's game
ANAHEIM -- The Angels will honor the late Jim Fregosi with a pregame ceremony before Tuesday's game against Philadelphia.
Fregosi was a six-time All-Star shortstop with the Angels and managed both the Angels and Phillies. He died in February due to complications from a stroke.
The ceremony will feature a video tribute to Fregosi, an on-field presentation to the family and Jim Fregosi Jr.'s ceremonial first pitch. Both teams will wear patches remembering Fregosi and his No. 11 will be stenciled on the field.
Fregosi was selected by the Angels in the December 1960 expansion draft, and his number was retired by the franchise in 1988.
• Injured utility man Grant Green took grounders for the first time Wednesday after rehabbing his back in Arizona over the past week.
Green is hitting off a tee, doing soft toss but has not begun running or seeing live pitching and said there was no certain timetable for a rehab appearance.
"It's something very fragile and something that you have to make sure is OK before you can start doing stuff," Green said.
• Albert Pujols has served as the designated hitter just once in the last nine games, including Wednesday's start at first base. He was the DH in four of his previous 11 starts.
Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels were better with Pujols at first base and have used the DH slot as a way to rest tired legs.
"I think it's served its purpose as far as keeping him fresh, and we'll do it as needed and maybe still do it just to stay ahead of things and keep him fresh," Scioscia said.
Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.