More umpires gone wild: Mike Eastabrook gets in Jason Kendall's face

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Yost Estabrook.jpgAt this point I’m thinking that there had to have been a memo sent out to all the umpires that acting all insecure and combative is the new thing to do because it happened again yesterday, this time involving home plate umpire Mike Eastabrook.

Zack Grekine threw a pitch that both he and catcher Jason Kendall thought was a strike (and, based on the video looked like a strike). Kendall obviously said something, but it’s not like he made a scene about it. Catchers and umps go back and forth on this stuff all the time.

Estabrook, however, didn’t appear too comfortable with that because he walked around Kendall — who was back in his crouch — bent over and started to jaw with him in a manner that suggested he was giving Kendall the “you talkin’ to ME?” thing.  Kendall didn’t take the obvious bait.  At that point Ned Yost came out to protect his catcher, got into it with Estabrook and was ejected with about 57% more theatrical flourish than you normally see in such situations.

Kendall after the game:  “He got in my face, and it was unprofessional what he did.”

Yost:

“The catcher will say something but he never turns his head back, and
the umpire will usually jaw back and stay right behind him. And that’s fine. That’s how they handle things. But to step out in
front and make a bit of a scene isn’t right . . . I’ll never let an umpire show up one of my players, and that’s exactly
what he was doing.”

I’m 100% on Yost’s and Kendalls’ side here. I have no idea why umpires have been acting out the way they’ve been lately, but they’re making utter fools of themselves.

Make a call. Stick with it. When someone jaws at you about it, simply say “That’s my call. Now let’s play ball.” How hard is that?

(thanks to reader Richard D. for the heads up)

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).