Hunter Pence isn’t playing, but that seems well explained. B.J. Upton’s absence from Tampa Bay’s lineup for the second time in four games, on the other hand, could and probably should be taken that a deal is close.
Also notable: there’s no Ian Desmond in the lineup for the Nationals tonight. Washington has long been considered a likely destination for Upton, and the Rays may well want a shortstop in return after Reid Brignac’s spectacular flameout this year.
You can bet we’ll be keeping an eye on things.
7:50 p.m. EDT update: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times is hearing that there’s no deal currently in place for Upton. That doesn’t mean something isn’t close.
8:20 p.m. EDT update: Upton said he was told by Maddon it was just a day off and that “there’s nothing going on.” Upton has been slumping, but it’s still very odd to see him getting a second day off in four days, particularly since there’s no disciplinary reason for the move.
We’re still in the third inning of NLCS Game 5 but the Dodgers are walloping the Cubs thus far, leading 7-0. Outfielder Enrique Hernandez has driven in five of those runs on a solo home run in the second inning and a grand slam in the third.
The other runs came on Cody Bellinger‘s RBI double in the first and Justin Turner‘s RBI single in the second.
The Dodgers loaded the bases on three consecutive singles to start the third inning, chasing starter Jose Quintana from the game. Hector Rondon entered in relief and struck out Logan Forsythe, revealing some light at the end of the tunnel. But his first-pitch slider to Hernandez caught too much of the plate and Hernandez drove it out to right-center field for a grand slam.
Hernandez has had two two-homer games in the regular season, on July 17 this year and April 15 last year. He has never had a five-RBI game. Hernandez’s home run in the second marked his first career postseason home run and RBI as well.
FanGraphs has the Dodgers’ win probability for this game at 96 percent. Clayton Kershaw is on the hill. It’s looking like they’re going to clinch the National League pennant tonight, but there’s still six innings left. We’ve seen big leads evaporate this postseason.