ALCS: One Wide Strike Later, Astros Walk Off Yankees in 11th to Square Series
Renowned sportscaster Ray Gandolf once offered this bitta existential wisdom about baseball:
It's not a strike because the ball went over the plate. It's a strike because the umpire called it a strike.
This will be forever so until the machines take over.
Gary Sánchez, for one, probably can't wait for that to happen.
The New York Yankees catcher had one of the more bizarre AB's in modern baseball history, and of course, it'd happen at a pivotal moment in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
There he was at the plate in the 11th inning of a 2-2 game in Houston with runners on first and second, having a shot at giving the Bombers a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. Putting it mildly, everything happened:
Here's a partial list of occurrences:
- Sánchez sent an 0-2 pitch so far up the shaft that it hit the stadium's roof, turning a sure out into just another unplayable foul ball, as in getting a second life.
Minute Maid Park roof rules: pic.twitter.com/pQ3kTpxOle— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) October 11, 2015
- A 1-2 foul tip turns into a bean shot that staggers 'Stros catcher Robinson Chirinos to the point that consideration of concussion protocol must have entered the trainers' minds.
- After seeing the 99mph Express, it appeared that umpire Cory Blaser spaced out on a wild slider, calling Sánchez's flailing swing-&-miss a foul tip because of the way the ball caromed away from a likely still-buzzed Chirinos.
- Then came the coup de grace: Blaser rang Sánchez up on a pitch he couldn't have hit with a snow shovel.
Here it all is in living color:
Now, being real, JA Happ had to witness all that -- expecially the wide called strike -- while waiting to take the mound in the bottom of the 11th.
Why in the name of Steve Dalkowski didn't he put his first pitch out in the Great Beyond, too, to see what Blaser'd call?
But he didn't, and Carlos Correa was grateful:
Put it all together, and this 3-2 Astro victory tied the series at a game apiece.
With the exception of that nutso Sánchez AB and a few questionable decisions by New York manager Aaron Boone, this one was what we'd expect from the two most powerful teams of 2019:
Houston thus avoided the peril of heading to Yankee Stadium two games down.
In a sport notorious for stats, they'll like this one: since the best-of-seven format came to the League Championship Series in 1985, the team winning ALCS Game 2 has advanced to the World Series 28 times in 34 series, including 19 of the last 21.
With stacked odds like that. New York had best be ready for anything. Maybe Sánchez should ask his bat supplier to express deliver a snow shovel.