Russell Martin
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Blue Jays trade Russell Martin to Dodgers

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Arash Madani is reporting that the Toronto Blue Jays are trading Russell Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers. No word yet on the return. It is presumed, however, that the Blue Jays will be eating a good portion of Martin’s $20 million salary for 2019.

Martin, who will turn 36 next month, played in 90 games last year and hit .194/.338/.325 with ten homers. This year will be the last year of the five-year, $82 million deal he signed with the Blue Jays. In Los Angeles — where he started his career back in 2006 — look for him to be a backup catcher and, if recent form holds, an occasional fill-in at third base, and a clubhouse guy.

UPDATE: The Dodgers are sending two minor leaguers to Toronto: starting pitcher Andrew Sopko, who had a 3.52 ERA, 2.1 BB/9, 9.3 K/9 in 117.2 IP between Double-A Tulsa and Hi-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2018, and shortstop Ronny Brito, who posted an .841 OPS with 11 HR in 244 PAs with Rookie Level Ogden.

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.