A couple of early season themes came into play during the first game of the Yankees' split doubleheader with the Cubs Wednesday.
Instant replay. Chicago's Junior Lake was called out on a close play at first in the second inning after Masahiro Tanaka fielded Lake's bunt down the third-base line. Chicago manager Rick Renteria called a surprise challenge, given there was one out and nobody on so early in the game.
The video review reversed first-base umpire Manny Gonzalez's call. Tanaka then struck out the next two Chicago batters.
In the seventh inning, after Anthony Rizzo's bunt single, Nate Schierholtz hit a hard ground ball that glanced off Tanaka's glove, knocking Tanaka backward before shortstop Dean Anna's throw barely beat Schierholtz to first. Renteria again challenged, and when the video review proved inconclusive, Renteria lost that one.
The new rule to prevent baserunner-catcher collisions at home plate.Before the game, Joe Girardi conceded there is "nothing clear cut on what is considered blocking the plate right now.
"The catcher is not allowed to block home plate without the ball. The rule is, in and of itself, a good idea. But let's say you're straddling home plate toward the third-base line and you catch the ball 40 feet before the guy gets there. Were you really blocking home plate? No, you weren't. So now, what if it's 20 feet? Or 10 feet? What if it's five feet? We're just going to have to iron this out."
In the fourth inning, Brian McCann, on Anna's fly ball to short center, slid home just as Cubs catcher John Baker reached for a high throw. McCann shot his right leg between Baker's legs to touch home plate for a clear score. No collision. No controversy.