Albert Pujols to undergo more tests on sprained left wrist

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8:00 p.m. EDT: The Cardinals don’t intend to immediately place Pujols on the disabled list with the sprained left wrist and shoulder injury he suffered Sunday.  Pujols said he isn’t yet certain how serious the problems are.

“To be honest, I can’t give you guys too much until the X-rays and an MRI  tomorrow,” he said. “I know I’m pretty sore. Am I worried? Of course. Hopefully, everything will come out negative
tomorrow. When I come out of a game, believe me, something is really wrong. Hopefully, cross our fingers and I’ll be all right.”

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Ugly scene in St. Louis.

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was lifted in the sixth inning of Sunday’s series finale against the Royals after appearing to injure his left wrist and shoulder while stretching for a wayward throw from second baseman Pete Kozma.

Kozma made a nice play, ranging to his right and firing off a throw while leaping away from the infield. But the ball was not on target and Pujols jammed his extended left arm into the body of Wilson Betemit, who was trucking down the first base line.

Pujols immediately hit the ground in pain and his wrist began showing significant swelling within seconds. It’s quite possible that he suffered a fracture.

Pujols homered in the bottom of the fifth inning after taking an up-and-in pitch from Royals reliever Louis Coleman. The go-ahead shot left Busch Stadium in under two seconds and put a charge into the crowd, but that energy was erased quickly in the top of the sixth when Albert hit the deck.

A free agent this winter, Pujols had mashed eight home runs and tallied 14 RBI in 17 games this month. He was quickly making up for a slow offensive start. Now it seems that all could be put on hold for a while.

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UPDATE, 4:22 PM: According to the Cardinals’ television broadcast (FS Midwest), Pujols has been diagnosed with a sprained left wrist. He will be examined by a physician Monday. So far, the news is promising.

UPDATE, 5:34 PM: La Russa revealed very little in his postgame press conference, telling reporters only that “there’s a chance” Pujols avoided a major injury. The Cardinals tend to keep injury information close to the vest and might not address the matter further until Monday afternoon, after the slugger is reevaluated. La Russa did say that Pujols had “good strength” in his wrist during initial tests.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.