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.

Padres claim 2-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from Mets

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SAN DIEGO — The scuffling San Diego Padres claimed catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets.

The two-time All-Star was designated for assignment after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

With the disappointing Padres (24-29) getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sánchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola is batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, is hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

San Diego is responsible for just over $1 million in salary for Sánchez after assuming his $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The star-studded Padres have lost seven of 11 and are 3-3 on a nine-game East Coast trip. They open a three-game series at Miami.

San Diego becomes the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sánchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list last week, Sánchez was cut.

Sánchez’s best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019.

He was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

With the Padres, Sánchez could also be a candidate for at-bats at designated hitter, where 42-year-old Nelson Cruz is batting .245 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .670 OPS, and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter is hitting .174 with four homers, 21 RBIs and a .652 OPS.