And the lineup is:
1. Infante 2B
2. Diaz LF
3. Lee, 1B
4. McCann C
5. Gonzalez SS
6. Heyward RF
7. Glaus 3B
8. Ankiel CF
9. Lowe P
I know Troy Glaus can’t field anymore either, but what choice does Bobby Cox have? All the players said the right things last night, but you know deep down none of them want Conrad at second base. And the fans? Well, Bobby Cox doesn’t give a hoot about what they think, thank goodness, but they wouldn’t be too pleased themselves. If Glaus screws up, well, yeah, that will suck, but at least he saved everyone’s bacon on Friday. At least he’s a veteran. At least it’s not doing the same thing and expecting a different result, and people will accept that a hell of a lot better than they’d accept Conrad fielding a ground ball again.
The truth is that there are no good options here. Diory Hernandez may have an OK glove, the Braves wouldn’t be in the mess they’re in if they could hit a lick, and Hernandez’s bat is probably worse than Glaus’ glove. When you do battle in the playoffs with your sixth or seventh infielder starting games you’re pretty much screwed no matter what you do.
Maybe more interesting in all of this: unless it’s a blowout, Bobby Cox is almost certain to use Brooks Conrad as a pinch hitter. Which, by the way, is the position that got him where he is today. His big hits this year helped the Braves into the playoffs. And while that doesn’t excuse his defensive lapses, he at least has a chance to add some value in that role.
I hope that, if he does get to bat tonight, Braves fans cheer for him. I fear they won’t, but I really hope they do.
The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.
Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.
Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.
James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.
The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.