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Missed HBP call wasn’t why Brewers lost NL Wild Card game

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The Nationals rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning to sweep the rug out from under the Brewers, turning a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead thanks to a bases-clearing single and subsequent fielding error by Trent Grisham in right field.

The whole inning unfolded, in part, because of an arguably botched hit-by-pitch call by home plate umpire Mike Everitt during Michael Taylor‘s at-bat. Replays showed Josh Hader‘s fastball appeared to hit Taylor’s bat first before glancing Taylor and ricocheting into his shoulder, but after replay review, the initial ruling was upheld. Taylor went to first base instead of continuing the at-bat and potentially making the second out of the inning. Trea Turner would strike out in what might have been out number three but was merely the second out. The rest, as they say, is history.

While it is true that Taylor taking first base as opposed to potentially making an out changed the shape of the inning, it was ultimately Hader’s fault. He uncharacteristically did not have command of his pitches. He fell behind Robles 2-0, missing up in the zone, before ultimately striking him out. Hader then fell behind Taylor 2-0 and the count became full as Hader continued to miss high in the strike zone. All five of Hader’s pitches to Turner were in the upper-third of the strike zone or higher, resulting in his second strikeout. Ryan Zimmerman blooped a single to center field to keep hope alive, which came on a 2-1 pitch with both balls registering quite high in the zone. Hader fell behind Rendon 3-0 with three more high pitches, eventually putting him on first base with a walk. During the fateful at-bat against Soto, Hader’s second pitch was a slider low and away that Gameday barely had the space to illustrate. The third pitch, which Soto ripped into right field, was a high fastball right over the plate. According to Statcast, it’s an area in which Soto hit .375 and slugged 1.029 during the regular season.

During the regular season, Hader struck out 138 batters and walked only 20 across 75 2/3 innings. Among qualified relievers, no one had a higher strikeout rate than his 47.8 percent and no one had a better differential between strikeout rate and walk rate than Hader’s 40.8 percent. This is not a guy who is famous for lacking command of his pitches. Whatever the reason for Hader’s struggles — adrenaline, nervousness, just an off-night — he is why the Brewers are not advancing into the NLDS. It is not Everitt’s fault, even though he did appear to get the call wrong.

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.