Link-O-Rama: Strasburg to debut in AFL

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* Now that they have Stephen Strasburg signed, the Nationals plan to have the No. 1 overall pick make a few instructional league starts before pitching in the Arizona Fall League. According to general manager Mike Rizzo, the goal is to have him throw “35-50 innings total” after not pitching since San Diego State’s season ended in late May. Strasburg will wear No. 37, just like he did in college.
* Alfonso Soriano has been dealing with knee pain since running into the outfield wall at Wrigley Field on April 22, hitting just .231/.288/.395 in 99 games since then while going 11-for-70 (.157) with 18 strikeouts this month. He’s been out of the lineup for the past three games and is set to undergo an MRI exam this afternoon. “I hope it’s nothing serious,” Soriano said. “I want to see the doctor and see. I don’t like surgery.”
* Also in the Cubs’ outfield, Milton Bradley talked yesterday about the “hatred you face on a daily basis” and how “it’s hard to be comfortable when you don’t get a hit and get booed every time.” Luckily for everyone involved, there are still two years and $21 million remaining on his contract.
* Random trivia: A.J. Pierzynski is batting .316 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs, putting him on pace to become just the third player in baseball history to hit above .300 with at least 15 homers and fewer than 50 RBIs in a season. The others? Bill Madlock (.309-15-44) in 1978 and Richie Zisk (.311-16-43) in 1981.
* Thanks to Joe Maddon and the Rays, hair-dye sales in the greater St. Petersburg area have gone through the roof.

Playoff Reset: Cubs vs. Dodgers NLCS Game 6

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers stands on the pitcher's mound during game two of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 6
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)

The Upshot:

We’re pulling out the big guns for this one. The Cubs took Los Angeles by storm again in Game 5, closing out their road trip with an eight-run spread over the Dodgers, and tonight they’ll try to clinch the NLCS on home turf in Game 6.

Pitching-wise, it’s a rematch of Game 2 with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) on the mound. Kershaw took the first set against the Cubs, going seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 while Hendricks held the Dodgers to a single run over 5 1/3 innings. Adrian Gonzalez was the only Dodger to capitalize on Hendricks’ cutter, going yard in his first at-bat to generate a 1-0 lead.

The Cubs’ biggest strength so far this series has been an electric offense, something the Dodgers have struggled to replicate against left-hander Jon Lester and Joe Maddon’s airtight bullpen. While they’ve already beaten Hendricks at Wrigley Field once this October, they’ll need Kershaw to go the distance in another playoff gem if they intend to keep the Cubs’ championship hopes at bay with a 3.4-run average. Should Kershaw and his crew knot the series again, the tiebreaker will fall to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta in Game 7.

Cavaliers will move ring ceremony to avoid conflict with World Series start

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 11: A general exterior image of the Quicken Loans arena which is next door to Progressive Field where the Chicago White Sox will take on the Cleveland Indians on July 11, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.

In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.

Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.