Braves minor league manager hit by foul ball in dugout, airlifted to the hospital

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A scary scene in Orlando as the Braves play the Cardinals this afternoon:  a foul ball came screaming off the bat of Brian McCann and into the Braves dugout.  It struck Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar, who was face down on the ground for several minutes after it hit him. An ambulance crew took him away in a stretcher, and he was then airlifted to an Orlando hospital.

UPDATE:  Mark Bowman from MLB.com reports:

Salazar was hit as he stood along the rail of the dugout in the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals. He appeared to be stiff-legged as he fell back and seemingly struck his head against the hard dugout floor.

This is sounding worse and worse.

UPDATE II:  Dave O’Brien reports that Salazar was unconscious for as long as 20 minutes, but when he regained consciousness he was breathing on his own.  Real life isn’t like the movies. Being knocked unconscious for even a few minutes is scary stuff.  Twenty minutes is an eternity. Still, guardedly good news so far.

UPDATE III:  Salazar has multiple facial fractures and an eye surgeon is currently examining him. He was hit in the left side of the face by the ball, and then fell and hit the floor of the dugout face-first.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).