Aces Carpenter, Wolf show nerves in Game 1

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Chris Carpenter hadn’t issued four walks in a game since an NLCS start in 2006. Randy Wolf hadn’t walked five batters since a loss June 27, 2008 against the Mariners. In Wednesday’s Game 1, both fell victim to wildness in combining to pitch just 8 2/3 innings in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win.
Fortunately for Los Angeles, Wolf was able to pitch out of his jams until the fourth, when Jeff Weaver rescued him with the bases loaded and two out. He was charged with just two runs despite allowing six hits, walking five and hitting a batter in 3 2/3 innings. Two of his free passes were intentional, with both going to Albert Pujols. He was never in control of the game, though.
Carpenter’s command problems didn’t result in walks early on. Leaving too many pitches in the middle of the strike zone, he gave up a single, a two-run homer and then two more singles before escaping the first. In the third, he hit Andre Ethier and walked Manny Ramirez to start a rally, but he minimized the damage by allowing only a single in the frame. The run he allowed in the fifth was also aided by a walk. He was taken out after that inning, having allowing four runs.
Neither the Dodgers nor Cardinals achieved a 1-2-3 inning until Ronald Belisario induced three straight groundouts by the sixth. By the time the seventh inning rolled around, the teams had already set an NLDS record for men left on base. It ended up as a postseason record. Even though the bullpens combined just two walks in 8 1/3 innings, the game finished with the Dodgers having stranded 16 and the Cardinals 14.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.