Angels DH Albert Pujols entered Sunday afternoon’s game against the Rangers tied with Ichiro Suzuki in 23rd place on Major League Baseball’s all-time hits list at 3,089. Pujols broke the tie to secure 23rd place all to himself with a third-inning single to right field.
Pujols, 39, went 1-for-3 with a walk on the afternoon. He’s now batting .250/.368/.375 with a home run and two RBI in 38 plate appearances on the season. Pujols has two more years on his 10-year, $240 million contract, so the Angels are hoping he has a little bit left in the tank.
Pujols is now 20 hits shy of matching Dave Winfield’s 3,110 hits for 22nd on the all-time hits list. Álex Rodríguez is 21st at 3,115. Pujols could potentially move into 15th place by the end of the season, passing Cal Ripken, Jr. at 3,184.
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.