Kevin Millwood notches 2,000th strikeout in beating Yankees

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One could stump a lot of people with this question: who is the active leader in strikeouts among right-handed pitchers?

It will soon by Roy Halladay, who stands at 1,980, but for now, Kevin Millwood is tops. The Mariners veteran fanned six Yankees in a 6-2 win Sunday, upping his career total from 1,998 to 2,004.

Javier Vazquez ended last season as the active strikeout leader with 2,536. Since he’s now out of the league, the list is topped by two left-handers who actually didn’t pitch at all in 2011: Jamie Moyer (2,429) and Andy Pettitte (2,253). CC Sabathia (2,070) is third and rising. Millwood is fourth even though he’s finished in the top 10 of his league in strikeouts just twice: a fourth-place finish in 1999 and and a 10th-place showing in 2002.

Millwood today spoiled Pettitte’s return to Yankee Stadium with his best effort of the season. He allowed just one run and three hits to earn his first win in seven starts and lower his ERA from 5.88 to 5.09. Pettitte gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings and took the loss.

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.