Giants strike back with two runs, trail 3-2 going into the seventh

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The Giants answered the Royals’ two-run top of the sixth inning with a two-run bottom half, reducing their deficit back to one run at 3-2. Brandon Crawford led off the inning with a single off of starter Jeremy Guthrie, then scored from first when Michael Morse ripped a double down the left field line.

Royals manager  Ned Yost took out Guthrie for reliever Kelvin Herrera. The flamethrowing right-hander was shaky, missing the zone and eventually walking Gregor Blanco. Still struggling with control, Herrera was able to induce a ground out from Joe Panik, but his only play was to first base, pushing both runners up to second and third base. Buster Posey knocked in the Giants’ second run with a ground out to second base, moving Blanco over to third in the process, but the Giants weren’t able to tie the game as Pablo Sandoval ended the frame with a ground out to first base.

The Giants will have to continue chipping away at the Royals’ well-regarded bullpen if they want to take a victory in Game 3 of the World Series.

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

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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.