According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the Rangers have signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year, $6.25 million contract, which almost surely means Bengie Molina won’t be back in Texas.
Torrealba is five years younger than Molina and represents an upgrade offensively. Over the past two seasons Torrealba has hit .279 with a .725 OPS, compared to Molina hitting .258 with a .682, and the difference between them is especially huge when it comes to getting on base. Torrealba posted a .346 on-base percentage during that time, compared to a ghastly .290 OBP from Molina.
And while Molina has the superior defensive reputation, Torrealba threw out a higher percentage of steal attempts this season and they’re both right around 30 percent for their careers. Torrealba is also merely really slow, rather than the slowest player in the history of baseball, so the Rangers upgrade their team speed too.
Molina was acquired from the Giants at midseason because the Rangers were desperate for help behind the plate after none of their young catchers of the future panned out. He was a fine stop-gap pickup thanks to some postseason heroics, but signing Torrealba to a reasonable two-year deal is a smart move for the defending AL champs.
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.