Few would disagree that the Cardinals and Reds have the most active rivalry in Major League Baseball. Yanks-Sawx is classic, Giants-Dodgers is still plenty heated, and Cards-Cubs tends to draw to great interest, but the Redlegs and Redbirds genuinely seem to dislike each other. And that same sentiment is shared by the competing fanbases.
Two games into this weekend’s three-game set at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, the tension is as potent as ever. On Friday night, the Reds won in walkoff fashion thanks to a Brandon Phillips ninth-inning blast. But the back-and-forth game looked to be in the Cardinals’ hands just an inning earlier, when resurgent slugger Albert Pujols ripped an Aroldis Chapman pitch high into the left field seats to give St. Louis a 5-4 eighth-inning lead.
Pujols is booed heavily by Reds fans when he steps to the plate in Cincinnati, as is teammate Yadier Molina.
Here is Albert’s post-homer reaction to those boos, via a screen-grab by Reds fan Joe Lankford:
Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter operated well in damage control over eight innings on Saturday and Pujols homered again to give St. Louis a 4-1 victory. The series finale gets underway at 1:15 PM ET.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.