Phillies drawing lots of interest in Antonio Bastardo

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While we wait to see if the Phillies will end up trading aces Cole Hamels and/or Cliff Lee, it sounds likely that reliever Antonio Bastardo will be moved before July 31.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that at least a handful of teams are interested in Bastardo and have been scouting the left-hander. Last night manager Ryne Sandberg was full of praise for the setup man when speaking to the media, to the point Salisbury noted that “it almost sounded like a sales pitch” to suitors.

Durability and control have been issues for Bastardo over the years, but there’s no denying his ability to dominate. He has a 3.58 ERA and 296 strikeouts in 239 career innings, including a 3.27 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 44 innings this season.

Bastardo is also under team control for 2015 via arbitration, so the Phillies should be able to get more value for him than a typical two-month rental.

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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.