Twins release Joel Zumaya ahead of Tommy John surgery, must pay entire $850,000 salary

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Joel Zumaya is scheduled to undergo Tommy John elbow surgery tomorrow, but he won’t do so as an official member of the Twins after Minnesota released the oft-injured right-hander this morning.

Minnesota could have simply transferred him to the 60-day disabled list and cleared the 40-man roster spot that way, which is generally more common than outright releasing an injured player.

Either way, as part of his partially guaranteed one-year deal Zumaya will get $400,000 and has said he plans to continue pitching. He looked healthy this spring before walking off the field with a torn elbow ligament following an early batting practice session, so the best-case scenario for Zumaya likely involves searching for minor-league deals next February or March.

UPDATE: Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com reports that, contrary to what was previously believed, the Twins are “on the hook” for Zumaya’s entire $850,000 salary because the injury occurred before the season, which would seem to go against the entire point of not guaranteeing his deal.

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.