Braves' Kris Medlen lifted from start with elbow injury

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Braves starter Kris Medlen was lifted from his start against the Mets in the fifth inning Wednesday because of an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament of his pitching elbow.  This according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

It may turn out to be nothing — soreness or tightness, whatever.  But, as O’Brien notes, serious injuries to the ulnar collateral ligament often require Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery.  A tear of any sort could result in Medlen missing the rest of the season, and perhaps more.

The Braves officially converted the 24-year-old right-hander from the bullpen to the starting rotation in June and he’s been brilliant in both roles.  Through 31 total appearances this season (14 starts), he has posted a 3.68 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and 83 strikeouts against 21 walks over 107.2 innings.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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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.