And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 8, Nationals 0: Adam Wainwright was outstanding, tossing a two-hitter. What worked for him? Everything, as after the game he said “my sinker was sinking, my four-seamer was four-seaming, my curveball was curving.” He also had two hits to (altogether now) help his own cause. Of course, he could have been merely competent and won this one, as the Nats looked feckless at the plate, were far worse on defense and couldn’t get Cardinals batters out to save their lives.

Phillies 1, Braves 0: I called the 1-0 Braves win on Wednesday night perfect baseball, so I’d be remiss in not saying that this was something close to it too, even if I didn’t care for the ultimate result. A.J. Burnett wasn’t as dominant as Cliff Lee, Alex Wood seemed more mortal than Julio Teheran and there wasn’t that sense that the Braves, unlike the Phillies on Wednesday, were one hit away from tying it, but 1-0 is still pretty bitchin’.

Tigers 7, Indians 5: Ian Kinsler drove in four. So far that trade is looking pretty good for Detroit. Danny Salazar, who looked so dominant at times last year, has a 7.71 ERA in three starts and has given up 19 hits in 14 innings.

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed seven shutout innings. He had some help in the field from Yasiel Puig as well. Well, help of a sort. I mean, it was interesting at least.

Twins 7, Blue Jays 0; Twins 9, Blues Jays 5: Not a great day for the Jays, eh? R.A. Dickey was knocked around in the first game and the Blue Jays bullpen was knocked around in the second. Well, not really knocked around as much as melted down. And I’m not talking a Three Mile Island meltdown. I’m talking Chernobyl. There are a couple of long-time, inner circle Hall of Fame Blue Jays fan commenters at HBT. Please, comment early fellas. I’m worried about you after this one. Let us know you’re still breathing.

Rockies 3, Padres 1: Ian Kennedy had a one-hit shutout through six but then the Rockies clawed back. Franklin Morales got a second chance at starting following some injuries to Colorado pitchers and he made the most of it, allowing one run and four hits in six innings with five strikeouts and a walk.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $60,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $8,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Rangers 8, Mariners 6: Homers from Choo and Cano got them off the schneid, but ultimately the game was won thanks to Kevin Kouzmanoff, who I still believe died in an industrial accident in 2011 or something and is actually a zombie. Kevin “Walking Dead” Kouzmanoff hit two doubles and scored twice. He’s hitting .414 since being called up to fill in for Adrian Beltre.

Yankees 10, Rays 2: A triple play and a nice offensive outburst are what people may talk about today, but the most significant thing for the Yankees here was CC Sabathia turning in a strong outing, allowing only one earned run on seven hits in seven innings. With so many injuries to position players and with Tanaka and Pineda looking so strong, an effective Sabathia could be the difference between a pitching-first Yankees team challenging for a playoff spot all a year and them finishing in the middle of the pack.

Pirates 11, Brewers 2: Homers from Andrew McCutchenPedro Alvarez and Josh Harrison put the surprisingly powerful Pirates over. They led the NL in bombs so far this year, which is not something I personally would have bet on.

Red Sox 3, White Sox 1: Jon Lester and Chris Sale each carried no-hitters into the sixth. David Ross had a tiebreaking RBI double in the ninth.

Royals 5, Astros 1: James Shields struck out 12 in eight innings. At one point he struck out seven Astros hitters in a row. Some of them were even major league hitters.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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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.