With Franklin Gutierrez working his way back into playing shape after landing on the DL with a strained right hamstring, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times suggests Endy Chavez could be the odd man out to create room on the roster. Chavez has a .288 on-base percentage and .310 slugging percentage. Meanwhile, Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez are both performing well at the plate, thus making it difficult for Baker to see the Mariners dropping either one of the two.
Interestingly, the Mariners may move Gutierrez from center field to right field — and in response, Michael Saunders to center — going forward. From Baker:
“We want him to play some right field as well as center field for a couple of reasons,” [Mariners manager Eric] Wedge said. “One…I think it’s easier to stay healthy if you’re playing left field or right field versus center field. Two, Saunders has been great in center field.
And three…if he’s not 100 percent, then we’re better off with him in right field. Now, if he’s the Guti of old, 100 percent, then of course you want him in center field. But he just hasn’t proven that he can do that. So, we’re going to give him some time down there to work things out.”
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.