Justin Morneau officially ruled out for ALDS

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Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made it official just a short while ago, confirming that Justin Morneau will not be included on the ALDS roster, according to Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

“He hasn’t hit live, he hasn’t dove for a ball, he hasn’t done anything
like that. If you want a formal, ‘No he won’t be on the playoff roster
for the first round,’ there’s your formal. No, he won’t.”

Not a surprising revelation, as Morneau basically said the same thing after taking batting practice Thursday. Still, he continues to make progress from a concussion that has sidelined him since July 7. Morneau worked out again this afternoon, taking some swings and fielding groundballs. Barring any setbacks, the next step would be for him to face live pitching.

“We’ll have to make that decision within whatever, the next few days,”
Gardenhire said. “He’d have to go to Florida to do that. That’s down the
road a few days here. He’s doing good.”

Gardenhire wouldn’t speculate on his status for the rest of the playoffs, but Morneau told Mackey earlier this week that he hopes to return if the Twins are able to reach the ALCS. The Twins obviously won’t count on him, hence Gardenhire’s guarded optimism here, but that the possibility is even being discussed is a very encouraging sign.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.