Did Tony La Russa pull a fast one on Dusty Baker last night?

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Tony La Russa used the weather and the rules to his advantage in last night’s 4-2 win over the Reds, moving his club back into first place in the National League Central.

La Russa scratched Kyle McClellan from his scheduled start because of the threat of inclement weather, instead sending Miguel Batista out for the first inning. He threw just six pitches before play was stopped, which resulted in a rain delay of two hours and 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez warmed up as the starting pitcher for the Reds, but never entered the game. When play resumed, McClellan came out to pitch for the Cardinals while Dusty Baker was forced to use Matt Maloney.

Maloney lasted just two-plus innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, while McClellan allowed two runs over six innings for his third win of the season. Well played, La Russa.

I honestly never knew this until last night, but MLB rules state that the home team — and not the umpires — have control over whether a game starts on time. According to Matthew Leach of MLB.com, Baker said he was informed that there was a window to play the ballgame.

“It’s really a tough start,” Baker said. “The information that we received was probably not the same information they received, or else we wouldn’t have started [Volquez] in the first place. We were told there was going to be a window of opportunity there. That window lasted about three minutes.”

While it sure seems like La Russa used the situation to his advantage, don’t you think Baker could have just fired up the internet or had someone check the weather forecast before sending Volquez out to the bullpen? Wasn’t he at least a little suspicious when Batista began to warm up for the Cardinals? Just sounds like he was one-upped by his longtime rival.

Cubs sign Drew Smyly to a two-year, $10 million contract

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday evening that the club signed pitcher Drew Smyly to a two-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the contract is for $10 million total and allows Smyly to earn another $7 million with performance bonuses. Smyly was non-tendered by the Mariners at the beginning of the month and became a free agent.

Smyly, 28, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June. He’s expected to miss, at minimum, the first half of the 2018 season. The Cubs are hoping he can contribute to a playoff push in the latter half of the season as well as in 2019.

Smyly didn’t pitch at all in 2017. When he was healthy the season prior, he made 30 starts for the Rays and put up a 4.88 ERA and a 167/49 K/BB ratio in 175 1/3 innings.