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Plate-blocking rule hurts Angels in walk-off loss

Plate-blocking rule hurts Angels in walk-off loss

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.

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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."

Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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