The Strikeout That Led To The Astros Winning Game Two ALCS
What happens during a high leverage baseball game deep in the playoffs when a bad call is made and then made up for? It swings momentum one way to one team and from the other.
There was no better example than Sunday night's American League Championship Series Game Two between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
With the Astros facing an 0-2 hole in the series with a loss, Houston was desperate for a win. The game wore on into extra innings with the score tied at two.
It was the top of the 11th and Joe Smith was able to retire the first two New York hitters of the innings before walking Edwin Encarnacion.
Ryan Pressly then came in for relief and allowed a single to Brett Gardner. He was quickly replaced for hard-throwing right-hander Josh James to face Yankees heavy-hitting catcher Gary Sanchez.
With the momentum of the game threatening to tip in the Yankees favor, a heavyweight battle of an at-bat between Sanchez and James ensued. James got ahead quickly 1-2 before Sanchez fouled five consecutive pitches off, or did he actually get a piece of the fifth pitch?
Well, if you were watching the game or saw the replay you'd say absolutely not. See still shot here:
The pitch was a nasty breaking ball, the absolute perfect pitch at the perfect time for James as he got the aggressive Sanchez to flail to seemingly end the New York threat but hold on.
Homeplate umpire Cory Blaser indicated that Sanchez had actually performed some sort of magical wizardry and made contact with the nasty breaking pitch. Bruh... Not even close.
That missed call gave the Yankees new life and another opportunity to grab the lead. However, the next pitch was a 99 mph heat piece about an inch or two off the outside corner of the plate which Blaser rang up Sanchez on. Needless to say, Gary was none too pleased about being called out on strikes.
In that situation, he had absolutely no reason to be upset even though that pitch was far enough outside to be called a ball.
In the mindset of a hitter in that situation after you know you just got away with a call that went in your favor, the umpire knows he made a mistake that he can't immediately fix but if given another opportunity he will make it right.
That's exactly what Blaser did and shame on Sanchez for not having the awareness of the situation to swing at anything close.
That strikeout swung the momentum squarely to the Astros and Carlos Correa took advantage of the first pitch from left-hander J.A. Happ.
With one swing of the bat, the ALCS is now knotted at two and a lot had to do with the strikeout the inning before by Josh James.
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