Blue Jays right fielder Randal Grichuk narrowly avoided a gruesome outcome during Sunday’s game against the Indians. In the fourth inning, Brandon Guyer lofted a foul ball to right field, prompting both Grichuk and first baseman Justin Smoak to chase it down. As they approached the wall, the security guard sitting along the first base line grabbed his stool and had started to get out of the way when Grichuk came sliding in to make the catch and inadvertently collided with the edge of the chair.
Both men immediately fell to the ground as Grichuk made contact with the stool, and he was quickly helped off the field with what appeared to be a facial injury of some kind. While the Blue Jays have yet to announce an official diagnosis, the outfielder was evaluated for a concussion after exiting the game and is expected to undergo follow-up imaging to his face in order to determine whether he sustained any fractures in the collision.
Following the incident, Billy McKinney shifted from left to right field and Teoscar Hernandez was brought in to cover the empty spot in the lineup. Grichuk went 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts against Cleveland right-hander Mike Clevinger before making his eventual departure in the fourth. The 27-year-old is batting .247/.303/.488 with 21 home runs and a .791 OPS over 403 plate appearances this year.
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.