Cardinals beat Mets after controversial call in ninth inning

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Andres Torres had a leadoff double erased on appeal to start the top of the ninth Monday as the Cardinals edged the Mets 5-4.

First-base umpire David Rackley ruled that that Torres did not touch the bag as he rounded it on his way to second base, giving the Cardinals a big out in a one-run game. Replays weren’t conclusive, but it did appear as though Torres caught the corner on the way by. Torres didn’t argue the call afterwards, but he said after the game that he “definitely” touched the bag.

Here’s the video.

After the call, Cardinals closer Jason Motte struck out Ronny Cedeno, walked Ruben Tejada and got Daniel Murphy to fly out to end the game.  The win ensured that the Cardinals would stay ahead of the Dodgers in the wild card standings. They’re one game ahead of Los Angeles for the second wild card, with the Dodgers hosting the Padres tonight.

As for Rackley’s call, he must have been awfully sure in his mind, even though it’s hard to see how he could have been. Umpires have to make most of their tough calls an instant after the play happens. However, in this case, Rackley had plenty of time to think about it, given that the out was only called after the play was over and the Cardinals made the appeal to first.

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.