Pablo Sandoval’s conditioning has been an issue at times over the past several years, so it’s no surprise to hear that it is a topic of conversation in Giants’ camp again this spring.
According to Chris Haft of MLB.com, Sandoval is listed at 262 pounds on the Giants’ spring roster, which is 22 pounds more than his listed weight for last season. Giants manager Bruce Bochy conceded that “it’s fair to say he has to shed a few,” but he also expressed optimism that he’ll be able to do so. Meanwhile, Sandoval didn’t understand what the fuss was all about.
“I feel in shape,” Sandoval told Haft. “Who cares what other people say? I’m here to do my job.”
Sandoval had 12 homers and a .789 OPS over 108 games last season, but poor conditioning wasn’t the problem as much as a broken hamate bone. Of course, he eventually found his power stroke by socking six homers in 16 postseason games en route to being named the World Series MVP. The best way for “Kung Fu Panda” to silence his critics is to hit.
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.