Scary news coming from the Rangers, as Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that reliever Tanner Scheppers was unavailable for last night’s game against the Indians after the 6-foot-4 right-hander was “sucker punched” by a group of males while walking in downtown Cleveland on Thursday night.
Scheppers said the incident occurred about two blocks from the team hotel as he was going to get something to eat. Nothing was taken from him and he has not filed a police report, though the Cleveland police are aware of the situation.
“One of those freak things,” Scheppers said. “I was just getting food and was blindsided. … It’s something you don’t want to be talking about. You want to be talking about baseball things.”
Scheppers suffered a laceration above his eye and a couple of cuts, but he passed all concussion tests. He is available for tonight’s game.
Scheppers has emerged as an important part of the Rangers’ bullpen this season, posting a 1.74 ERA and 32/17 K/BB ratio over 46 2/3 innings. He has held opposing batters to a .202 batting average.
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.