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J.D. Martinez in left field for Game 3, Andrew Benintendi benched

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When an American League team with an established DH plays in a National League park it always raises the question of whether to bench the DH or whether to force him into the defensive alignment. The Red Sox have known that was coming with J.D. Martinez for some time, and there has been significant speculation regarding where he’ll play in Los Angeles.

Alex Cora ended the speculation a little while ago when he released his lineup: J.D. Martinez will play in left field and Andrew Benintendi will ride pine.

The lineup:

1. Mookie Betts (R) RF
2. Xander Bogaerts (R) SS
3. Mitch Moreland (L) 1B
4. J.D. Martinez (R) LF
5. Brock Holt (L) 2B
6. Rafael Devers (L) 3B
7. Jackie Bradley Jr. (L) CF
8. Christian Vazquez (R) C
9. Rick Porcello (R)

Some had speculated that Mookie Betts might play second base, which was his original position, allowing Martinez to play in right, but it’s been a while since he’s played there and the Sox have decided to keep the presumptive MVP in his usual position and go with Brock Holt at the keystone.

Another thing they could’ve done is put Martinez in right, slid Betts to center and kept Benintendi in the game, but I like this move better. Martinez is going to be a defensive liability wherever he plays. He’ll be less of one in left than right and, if you keep Jackie Bradley Jr. in the game at least you have your best defensive outfielder next to Martinez to at least try to cover for him. Not that Martinez is a complete tourist out there, as he played 32 games in left field during the season.

As for the Dodgers, there are no surprises here. Against the righty Rick Porcello they, finally, put their big bats in the starting lineup, with Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson getting the call:

1. Joc Pederson (L) LF
2. Justin Turner (R) 3B
3. Max Muncy (L) 1B
4. Manny Machado (R) SS
5. Cody Bellinger (L) CF
6. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
9. Walker Buehler (R) P P

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.