A week after the Marlins shocked everyone by announcing his callup, 20-year-old Jose Fernandez allowed one run in five innings and struck out eight Mets in his major league debut Sunday.
Fernandez, regarded as one of the game’s top five pitching prospects, was expected to spend the bulk of the season in the minors. In fact, he made just one two-inning appearance for the Marlins this spring before being sent down. The team, though, had a change of heart when both Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi came down with sore shoulder at the end of the spring.
Fernandez allowed three hits and walked one before leaving with a 3-1 lead today. He threw 80 pitches, 53 of them for strikes, and topped out at 97 mph on the gun. He became the 22nd pitcher since 2000 to strike out at least eight batters in his major league debut. Matt Harvey (11) and Collin McHugh (nine) of the Mets were the only two to do it last year.
The Marlins are planning on limiting Fernandez to 150-170 innings this season, so five- and six-inning starts will be the norm for him.
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.