Previewing Sunday Night Baseball: Cardinals at Indians

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With the Cardinals and Indians less than an hour from first pitch, here’s a few things to consider:

A pair of aces:

– Chris Carpenter (4-0, 1.23) toes the rubber for the Cardinals. He’s
coming off his worst start of the season against the Marlins, which is
saying a lot, considering that he allowed three runs over six innings.
The 2005 Cy Young award winner has limited opponents two runs or less
in all six of his other starts. He’s holding opposing batters to a .163
batting average and has served up just one home run in 44 innings
pitched this season.

– Cliff Lee (3-6, 3.17) starts for the Indians. The defending Cy
Young award winner was hit hard by the Royals in his last start,
yielding four runs on 11 hits over six innings as part of a
no-decision. The four runs were the most Lee has allowed since April
11. Lee has a 2.31 ERA over his last 11 starts, after a 9.90 ERA over
his first two starts. Righties are batting .322 off the southpaw.

El Hombre en fuego:

– With his 27th career multi-homer game on Saturday, Albert Pujols
has went deep in three consecutive games. He’s tied with Raul Ibanez
for the National League lead in home runs with 22 and is second to
Ibanez with 57 RBI.

Missing Sizemore:

– With Grady Sizemore on the disabled list due to an elbow injury,
the Indians first turned to Ben Francisco to lead off, but mired in a
4-for-30 funk, the Indians inserted Jamey Carroll there on Friday. So
far, Carroll is 2-for-8 with a walk from the top spot.

Fantasy angle:

– With the Cardinals loading their lineup with right-handed batters against the southpaw Lee, rookie Colby Rasmus takes a seat.

– Kerry Wood hasn’t allowed a run in his last nine appearances, spanning 8 1/3 innings.

Walt Weiss returning as Rockies manager in 2016

Walt Weiss
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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As first reported by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Rockies have decided to bring back manager Walt Weiss for the 2016 season — the final year of a three-year deal he signed after his debut season in 2013.

Weiss carries a rough 208-278 managerial record through his first three years at the helm for Colorado, but it’s not like the rosters he’s been managing have been built to win.

The biggest need for the Rockies this winter is pitching — both starters and relievers — and general manager Jeff Bridich is also being retained for the 2016 season to try to find some.

Colorado’s starters and relievers combined for a 5.04 ERA in 2015, worst in MLB.

Colorado’s offense produced 737 runs, ranking fifth in the major leagues.

Astros flashing power early in AL Wild Card Game

Colby Rasmus
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Houston got on the board first in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium when Colby Rasmus led off the top of the second inning with a solo home run to deep right field against Masahiro Tanaka.

It was the first career postseason homer for Rasmus, whose only other postseason experience came in 2009 with St. Louis. He slugged 25 home runs during the 2015 regular season and will be looking to cash in as a free agent whenever the Astros’ postseason runs come to an end. A big October (and perhaps early November) would obviously help that.

Tanaka retired the next two batters after the Rasmus bomb, but he gave up a single and two walks to load the bases before eventually inducing an inning-ending fielder’s choice groundout from Jose Altuve. Tanaka’s shakiness extended into the third and fourth innings, with Carlos Gomez adding a solo shot to left field in the top of the fourth.

Houston leads 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth. Astros starter Dallas Keuchel has looked sharp on three days of rest, tallying five strikeouts through four scoreless frames.