As part of their cuts Monday, the Rangers released veterans Conor Jackson, Joe Beimel and Mitch Stetter, making the group free agents.
Jackson, who finished last season with the Red Sox, was vying to make the Rangers as a right-handed hitting option at first base and in the outfield corners, but he was just 3-for-33 this spring. The poor showing suggests that he’ll have to go to Triple-A for a bit to earn another shot. The Nationals are one team that may want to give him a look, considering they have Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse banged up and the fragile Mark DeRosa as their top fallback at first base.
Beimel and Stetter were among those vying to become the lone lefty in the Texas pen. Beimel allowed three runs in six innings this spring, while Stetter gave up six runs — two earned — in 3 1/3 innings. The Rangers are still considering Michael Kirkman, Neal Cotts and maybe Robbie Ross for a role, though it’s not guaranteed that they will keep a lefty.
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.