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Max Scherzer steals first career base, shuts out Braves

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer stole his first base and threw a shutout against the Braves on Monday evening, helping his team enjoy a 2-0 victory. Scherzer singled to lead off the bottom of the seventh against reliever Peter Moylan, then swiped second base easily while Trea Turner was batting for his first career stolen base. The Nationals could not bring Scherzer around to score, however.

As MLB’s Stat of the Day notes, Scherzer is the first player to steal a base and throw a shutout with 10 strikeouts in the same game since Nolan Ryan on May 16, 1984 against the Pirates.

On the mound, Scherzer held the Braves scoreless on two hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts on 102 pitches. The shutout is the fifth of the right-hander’s career and his first since the final game of the 2015 season, when he tossed a 17-strikeout no-hitter against the Mets.

Through three starts to begin the 2018 season, Scherzer has a 0.90 ERA with a 27/3 K/BB ratio in 20 innings.

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.