This isn’t what you want to hear with the start of the season just one week away. According to AJ Cassavell of MLB.com, Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was forced to exit last night’s Cactus League game against the Padres after he felt soreness in his surgically-repaired left knee.
Gonzalez, who had season-ending surgery last August, aggravated the knee when he caught a fly ball off the bat of Will Middlebrooks in the third inning. He stayed in for his next at-bat before being removed from the game.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss decided to play it safe, but Gonzalez doesn’t think it’s anything major and said it was “just a little fatigue.” He’ll be re-evaluated today.
Gonzalez has played well this spring, hitting .333 (9-for-27) with three doubles in 11 games. However, keeping him healthy is an ongoing concern for the Rockies. The 29-year-old has averaged just 110 games played over the past four seasons.
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.