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Carl Edwards Jr. admits to throwing at Austin Nola on purpose

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Cubs sluggers Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras were both hit by pitches during Tuesday afternoon’s Cactus League game against the Mariners. Bryant was hit by Nabil Crismatt in the bottom of the third inning and Contreras was hit by Wyatt Mills in the fifth.

Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. got the final out of the top of the fifth and came back out for the start of the sixth inning. He allowed a leadoff home run to Kyle Lewis, then got Tim Lopes to fly out, bringing up Austin Nola. Edwards hit Nola with a pitch and was promptly taken out of the game.

On Wednesday, Edwards admitted to defending his teammates by hitting Nola with a pitch. Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Edwards said, “Yeah, I did. It’s just, honestly, it’s like the nature of the game — spring training or not. It’s just you get to a point where you’re kind of tired of the guys getting hit. I mean, those are our big guys. That’s 25-man roster. Those are guys that are going to help us win championships, help us win ballgames. And, you know, all due respect, but it’s the nature of the game. And it just gets to a point where you just get tired, you know? Yes, it was Willy and a couple innings before it was KB.”

No other batters were hit in Tuesday’s game. Pitchers don’t often admit to intentionally throwing at batters because it easily turns into a fine and a suspension. We’ll have to see if Major League Baseball takes Edwards’ actions and admission seriously or looks the other way because it was just a spring training game.

The Mariners and Cubs, by the way, meet up in the regular season April 30 and May 1 in Seattle.

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.