Nearly three months removed from right shoulder surgery, Roy Halladay is ready to return to game action.
According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon that Halladay will begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with the team’s Gulf Coast League affiliate. He was given the go-ahead after making it through a simulated game Saturday and a bullpen session earlier today.
Halladay is slated to throw about 80-85 pitches on Thursday. Amaro indicated that he could require just two rehab starts, which would place his return in the final week of August.
“If everything continues to go in a straight line, he could be back after two (rehab) starts,” Amaro said. “But it depends on how he feels. You can’t crystal-ball it.”
Halladay posted an uncharacteristic 8.65 ERA over seven starts prior to surgery in May to have a bone spur removed from his right shoulder as well as a partially torn rotator cuff and frayed labrum repaired. While the Phillies will be playing out the string over the final five weeks of the season, it will present Halladay with an opportunity to showcase his health and effectiveness. The 36-year-old is due to hit free agency this offseason.
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.