Yankees squander chances in loss to Blue Jays

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The Yankees fell to the Blue Jays 3-2 this afternoon at Rogers Centre in Toronto, which means the Orioles could move into a tie for first place in the American League East with a win over the Red Sox tonight. (Editor’s note: Baltimore won 4-3)

The Yankees had plenty of chances to blow this game open, but simply failed to take advantage. They loaded the bases against Ricky Romero in the first inning, but only managed a pair of sacrifice flies. The leadoff hitter reached base in each of the next four innings, but none of them came around to score.

Romero left the game after three innings with left knee discomfort, but Shawn Hill came up big by tossing three scoreless frames in his first appearance in the majors since 2010. He also got the victory.

Andy Pettitte allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings for his first loss since returning from a fractured ankle. The veteran southpaw was pulled with two runners on in the sixth before Adeiny Hechavarria delivered a go-ahead RBI double off Joba Chamberlain. Yan Gomes was caught napping around third base on the very same play, but the Yankees couldn’t get anything going against Brad Lincoln, Steve Delabar and Casey Janssen.

The Yankees will send Phil Hughes to the hill tomorrow while Henderson Alvarez pitches for the Jays. If the American League East ends in a tie, there will be a one-game playoff on Thursday in Baltimore.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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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.