BOSTON -- The most impactful replay challenge of the season for Astros manager Bo Porter on Sunday afternoon against the Red Sox wasn't without some controversy.
When Marwin Gonzalez grounded into what initially was ruled an inning-ending double play in the second inning, Porter raced onto the field and challenged that Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts threw the ball to first before stepping on second base for a forceout.
Following a two-minute, 24-second review, the call was overturned after replays clearly showed Bogaerts released the ball early, putting runners at second and third with two outs. Robbie Grossman drew a walk to load the bases, and Jose Altuve launched his first career grand slam over the Green Monster to make it 6-0 in an eventual 8-1 Houston victory at Fenway Park.
"I saw the runner coming on me and I tried to touch the bag and get it out as quick as possible to turn the double play," Bogaerts said. "[Red Sox pitcher] Joe Kelly was going through a rough stretch with his command, so getting a double play right there would have been huge. It really would've turned the game around, but since I didn't make it, it turned it around differently."
The review was allowed after crew chief Jim Joyce communicated with the replay center in New York to find out if the play was indeed reviewable and not deemed a "neighborhood play," where a middle infielder is typically rewarded a forceout at second by stepping near the bag to avoid a possible collision with the runner.
"I explained to Bo that I was going to ask New York, the replay center, if it was in fact reviewable because the neighborhood play is not," Joyce told a pool reporter. "New York came back to me and said, 'Yes, that play is reviewable.' And I came back to them and said, 'OK, Houston is challenging that play,' and that was the outcome."
The outcome obviously loomed large for the Astros, who ended the second leading, 6-0, instead of 2-0.
"That there is a big play," Porter said. "You look at that stage of the game and what proceeded to happen after that, you know Altuve with the big grand slam, and one could say that was the biggest play of the game."
Red Sox manager John Farrell disagreed, not with the result of the review, but that the play should have been reviewed in the first place and was ejected after the half-inning.
"My initial explanation on the field was that the front end of a double play is a non-reviewable play," he said. "My interpretation is the neighborhood play should not be dependent upon a feed throw or not. A neighborhood play is not a reviewable play."
Joyce said it was up to him to check on the rules and regulations at his discretion.
"The whole idea is to get them right," he said. "If we have a rules and regulations question, we can go to the headsets and ask about the rules and regulations. That's one of the procedures. Being the first time we had this this year, I thought we better be 100 percent on it, so instead of just saying to Bo 'Yes' or 'no' because we really weren't sure, they actually took a couple of minutes on it just to make sure it was reviewable."