It was 4-4 in the top of the 11th of Tuesday night’s game between the Astros and White Sox. George Springer singled with one out against Matt Albers and was looking to run with Carlos Correa at the plate. He took off on the 0-2 pitch, which Correa swung through for the strikeout. Here’s where Correa ended up after his swing.
This was, by any definition, interference. It was Correa’s momentum from the swing that carried him through home plate, but that’s irrelevant, and while he did eventually make an effort to duck, it happened too late for Alex Avila to make the throw he wanted to make.
If interference had been called by home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo, Springer would have been out* and the inning would have been over. Instead, Springer was credited with the steal, Evan Gattis followed with a two-run homer and the Astros went on to win 6-5.
(The reason Springer would have been out is because it was strike three on Correa. If it had happened earlier in the at-bat, Springer simply would have been sent back to first base.)
It seems to me that umpires have gotten better recently about calling interference on these sorts of plays. It used to be that interference was hardly ever ruled unless the catcher hit the runner with the ball or with his arm on the follow through. Obviously, that shouldn’t be necessary to draw the call. Randazzo, though, seemed to be watching the steal attempt, rather than the clear case of interference in front of him.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.