Watch out for the big Redbird machine

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cardinals_090820.jpgDon’t look now, but the St. Louis Cardinals have the largest division lead in all of baseball.

Thursday’s victory over the Padres, combined with the Dodgers’ whomping of the Cubs (thanks in part of Russell Martin’s grand slam) have upped the Cards’ lead to 7 games.

(Check out the standings here)

The Cards are hot, no doubt about it, having just come off a winning series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Now you might knock their schedule of late, as they’ve faced the Pirates, Reds, and Padres before the Dodgers. And now, the Padres again. In those games, St. Louis is 11-2.

Rip the schedule all you want, but good teams do tend to beat up on bad ones. And bad teams, well, they do whatever the Cubs are doing.

With the Cubs trying to figure out how to blame it all on a goat, the Brewers having essentially thrown in the towel at the trade deadline, and the Astros breaking new ground in sleepy-eyed mediocrity, a division that looked pretty tight only a couple weeks ago is suddenly taking on the characteristics of a runaway.

Is it over? Of course not. But even Bluto Blutarsky is beginning to have his doubts.

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If you Twitter, and think photos of a grousing Jamie Moyer are amusing, you can follow me at @Bharks.

Report: Blue Jays and Marco Estrada nearing agreement on contract extension

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Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays and starter Marco Estrada are nearing an agreement on a contract extension. The deal is expected to be for one guaranteed year, Morosi adds.

Estrada, 34, was set to become a free agent after the season. He earned $26 million on a two-year contract signed with the Jays in November 2015. While the right-hander has a subpar 4.84 ERA on the season, he has a solid 170/67 K/BB ratio in 176 2/3 innings and has looked much better since the end of July. Between July 31 and his most recent start on Saturday, Estrada owns a 3.75 ERA.

J.A. Happ is the only other starter technically under contract with the Jays next season. Marcus Stroman will be eligible for his second year of arbitration and the Jays will certainly agree to give him a raise on his $3.4 million salary for the 2017 season. The Jays will likely be active this offseason in adding rotation help and they’re starting early by locking up Estrada.

Video: Jackie Bradley, Jr. robs Chris Davis of a home run

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Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. robbed Orioles first baseman Chris Davis of his 25th home run on Tuesday evening, leaping at the fence in center field to make the catch and keep the game scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Davis swung at the first pitch he saw from Drew Pomeranz, a slider that crossed the middle of the plate.

This game has potential playoff implications, as the first-place Red Sox hold a three-game lead over the Yankees in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Orioles are still in the AL Wild Card race, trailing the Twins by 5.5 games for the second Wild Card slot.