KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Manager Matt Williams decided to take advantage of instant replay during a 10-9 loss to the Astros on Wednesday afternoon.
In the top of the sixth inning, with a runner on first, no outs and the Nationals leading, 9-4, Jose Lobaton hit into a double play. Erick Dalton, the Nationals' coordinator of advance scouting and video, relayed to bench coach Randy Knorr via walkie talkie that the play was close. Knorr then communicated the information to Williams, who went to first-base umpire Ryan Blackney to challenge the call.
"Erick called. It was the perfect time. You don't know if you are going to get another chance," Williams said. "That play is at first. I went directly to the first-base umpire to let him know that we would like to [challenge the call]."
As soon as Lobaton touched first, he thought he was safe. At first he was mad, because he knew it was his final at-bat of the game, then Williams told him to stay at first.
"I was like, 'Why?'" Lobaton said following the game.
"Because we appealed [the call]. We challenged [it]," was Williams' reply.
"I was like, 'Really? What is that? Oh, OK. I got you,'" Lobaton said.
The umpires checked the replay, and after 45 seconds the call was confirmed by replay official Toby Basner.
"It's our first time. We get a few more times during spring to create some different situations and see what we could come up with," Williams said.
An inning later, the Astros had a call overturned in their favor. With two outs and Jerry Blevins on the mound, Delino DeShields Jr. hit the ball between short and third. Shortstop Jose Lozada grabbed the ball and appeared to throw DeShields out, bit Astros manager Bo Porter challenged the call, which was reversed. The Astros would go on to score on an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez.
"We're in the third-base dugout, and I was able to have a clean look as Delino hit the base before the ball hit the first baseman's glove, so I had a pretty good idea when I left the dugout that he was safe," Porter said. "Our replay crew, they did a great job of getting it down to the dugout right away that he was safe, so it's definitely a benefit to have that late in the game."
Each team is allowed one challenge during the game. If a team is right, it gets another challenge toward the end of the game. If the challenge is lost, the team does not get another.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.