Are the White Sox going to let A.J. Pierzynski walk?

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Jim Bowden reports — that always sounds weird, by the way — that the White Sox have not yet offered a contract to free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski. And maybe they shouldn’t, because he has declined a great deal and he probably wants multiple years when he doesn’t really deserve them.  But it does leave me wondering what the Sox plan on doing at catcher.

Why? Because while everyone has assumed for a couple of years that prospect Tyler Flowers would take over behind the plate once A.J. was gone, he didn’t have a great year in Charlotte, regressing pretty substantially after an outstanding 2009 split between Triple-A and Double-A.  I saw him once when the Knights came to Columbus and, while I’m no scout, he had some pretty terrible-looking at bats.

Catcher take awhile to develop, but Flowers is going to be 25 in January.  Can he be trusted to simply step in and competently handle the catching duties for the White Sox? And if not, who is going to be there to pick him up when he falters?  A.J. Pierzynski? Someone else?

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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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.