New Cardinals closer Jason Motte picked a bad time to suddenly lose it.
Up 6-1 after seven against the Mets, the Cards allowed one in the eighth and six in the ninth to lose 8-6 on Thursday.
A win would have left the Cardinals one game back of the idle Braves with both teams having six games left. Now they’re two back as they begin a series against the Cubs on Friday.
The Cardinals got homers from Allen Craig and Albert Pujols in building their lead. Jake Westbrook allowed just one run and three hits in six innings, but he was pulled for a pinch-hitter after a mere 84 pitches.
Things still looked good initially from there. Arthur Rhodes worked a flawless seventh, and Octavio Dotel allowed an unearned run in the eighht, making it 6-2. The Cards turned to their closer then, but Motte walked three of the five hitters he faced and had another reach on a Rafael Furcal error. Marc Rzepczynski took over with the score 6-3 and the bases loaded and gave up an RBI single to Jose Reyes.
Fernando Salas was next in. He gave up a two-run double to Ruben Tejada, tying the game with still just one out in the inning. Left fielder Shane Robinson almost made what would have been an outstanding leaping grab on the play, but he came up a little short. After an intentional walk to Angel Pagan reloaded the bases, Salas was able to strike out David Wright. However, Willie Harris followed with a line drive single to right, plating two more runs. After, Nick Evans flied out to end the inning, the Cards went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
The Cardinals are going to need some real help from the Nationals and Phillies now if they hope to catch the Braves. They do get to face the Cubs and Astros in their last two series, so a 5-1 or even a 6-0 finish can’t be ruled out. Atlanta is in the driver’s seat, though.
Here’s a pretty good way to finally break out of that turkey-induced Thanksgiving tryptophan coma.
It’s a compilation of the 10 longest home runs from the 2015 season, with MLB.com’s Statcast technology providing data along the path of each blast …
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.