Rafael Furcal, Albert Pujols

Cardinals gain a game on punchless Braves

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The Braves were shutout by the Nationals in losing Sunday for the 10th time in their last 15 games, allowing the Cardinals to make up ground and climb to within one game in the wild card chase.

Atlanta lost this one 3-0 after dropping Saturday’s game 4-1.  Ross Detwiler tossed six scoreless innings and combined with three relievers on a four-hitter for his sixth big-league victory.  The Nationals got their three runs on homers from Wilson Ramos and Mike Morse.  The Braves, meanwhile, received nothing from their top four hitters, as Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Chipper Jones and Dan Uggla combined to go 0-for-16.

The Cards beat the Cubs for the second straight day, again by one run.  The Cubs went ahead 2-1 on a Starlin Castro single in the seventh, but the Cards responded with solo homers from Yadier Molina in the seventh and Rafael Furcal in the eighth to win.  Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel and Jason Motte combined to limit the Cubs to five hits.  Randy Wells was the hard-luck loser for Chicago, going the distance in a complete-game loss.

The Cards, now 88-71, will finish the season with a series in Houston.  MLB’s worst team, the Astros are 55-103 for the season, though they are 7-7 in their last 14 games.  The Braves, at 89-70, will finish at home against the struggling Phillies.  Philadelphia did win today to snap an eight-game losing streak, but the club has nothing to play for from here.

Must-Click Link: The Turbulent Final Year of Yordano Ventura’s Life

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 23:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals reacts in the sixth inning while taking on the Toronto Blue Jays in game six of the 2015 MLB American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 23, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.

It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.

Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.