Andy LaRoche's ridiculous day

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If only he could always play against his old team, LaRoche really would be the star many thought he’d become. The 26-year-old third baseman went 5-for-5 with two homers, two doubles and six RBI in Monday’s rout of the Dodgers. That made him 14-for-29 against the Dodgers this season. His slash line is .483/.516/.931, compared to .259/.333/.403 overall.
LaRoche’s performance this month and in the four-game series win over the Dodgers in particular won’t change the fact that he’s been a disappointment in his first full season as a regular, but it likely will lock up a starting job for him in 2010. He’s hit .338 and launched five of his 12 homers during September.
Beyond the first couple of months of next year, it’s hard to tell what’s in store. The Pirates’ former top position prospect and current top prospect are both third baseman. Neil Walker, though, needed a strong finish just to end this year with a modest .264/.311/.480 line as a 23-year-old in Triple-A, and Pedro Alvarez seems increasingly likely to end up at first base.
LaRoche looked like a future 30-homer guy in the low minors, but injuries sapped his power potential. Almost as disappointing is that his on-base skills haven’t come along. LaRoche posted OBPs of .410, .399 and .445 in his final three minor league seasons. He was often aided by kind offensive environments, but his patience and his ability to hit line-drive singles and doubles figured to make him a quality major leaguer. Instead, he’s really only been adequate against left-handed pitchers so far. Fortunately, two-homer, two-double games do have a way of changing numbers in a hurry.

Royals hold on to beat Astros, even up ALDS at 1-1

Alcides Escobar
AP Photo
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The Royals kept their foot on the pedal, rallying late to take down the Astros in Game 2 of the ALDS by a 5-4 score. The series is now evened up at one game apiece in the best-of-five series.

Ben Zobrist broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the seventh, ripping a single to left field to plate Alcides Escobar, who had led off the inning with a triple to right-center.

The Royals were down 3-0 after the first two innings and 4-2 after three. Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus accounted for two of the runs with an RBI double in the first inning and a solo homer in the third. Catcher Salvador Perez opened up the scoring for the Royals with a solo homer in the second.

Royals starter Johnny Cueto started off poorly but was able to rebound in the latter half of his six innings. Overall, he gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts. Relievers Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson, and Wade Davis each pitched a scoreless inning behind Cueto to seal the deal. Davis benefited from replay review to secure the second out of the ninth inning, picking off pinch-runner Carlos Gomez at first base. He replaced Preston Tucker, who had walked with one out.

For the Astros, starter Scott Kazmir wasn’t able to escape the sixth inning, leaving with one out in the frame. He ultimately allowed three runs on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Lefty reliever Oliver Perez came in after Kazmir, but gave up two singles and a walk as his inherited runner scored. Josh Fields relieved Perez and allowed one of Perez’s runners to score on a bases-loaded walk.

The Royals are the first home team to win so far this post-season. The visiting Rangers beat the Blue Jays in both ALDS games played thus far, while the visiting Astros and Cubs both won in the Wild Card games.

The two squads will travel to Houston. Game 3 resumes on Sunday at 4:00 PM EDT with Dallas Keuchel taking the hill for the Astros and Edison Volquez toeing the slab for the Royals.

Cardinals take early 1-0 lead over the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS

Matt Holliday
AP Photo
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Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday staked his team to an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning of Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cubs. Rookie Stephen Piscotty had doubled with one out against Cubs starter Jon Lester, putting himself in scoring position ahead of Holliday’s single.

Starter John Lackey tossed a scoreless top of the first inning and reprised the performance in the top of the second, so the Cardinals have a small lead to open up their post-season.

Holliday, 35, posted an .804 OPS during the season but missed a significant amount of time in the second half due to a Grade 2 strain of his right quadriceps.

Video: Rougned Odor gets the benefit of the doubt upon replay review

Rougned Odor
The Associated Press

Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor appeared to luck out when a replay review was upheld in the 14th inning, ruling Odor safe at second base. Odor had beaten out an infield single to put the go-ahead run on base in a 4-4 game, then scampered to second base on Chris Jimenez’s single to right field.

Odor rounded the second base bag a little too hard and had to retreat quickly as Jose Bautista fired a laser to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. To the naked eye, Odor appeared to barely get back in safely, but replays showed Odor’s foot coming off of the bag following initial contact as Tulowitzki applied the tag. The initial safe call was upheld as there ostensibly wasn’t overwhelming evidence upon which to base a decision to overturn.

The call would immediately prove important, as Odor came in to score the go-ahead run when Hanser Albert ripped a single to center field. The Rangers took a 5-4 lead in the game and would tack on one more before the frame was over, helping them move to a 2-0 AL Division Series lead over the Blue Jays.