Cardinals mashing early, jump out to big lead on Astros

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The Cardinals went right to work in the top of the first inning against Astros starter Brett Myers, providing an early 5-0 cushion for Chris Carpenter.

Jon Jay singled through the left side of the infield, Allen Craig did the same, then Albert Pujols rocketed a ball off Minute Maid Park’s Crawford Boxes to tally the game’s first score. Lance Berkman followed with a run-scoring single and David Frese smashed an RBI double to left-center as the first five St. Louis hitters reached base.

After a Yadier Molina groundout, middle infielders Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto each added RBI singles.

The Cardinals sent 10 hitters to the plate and racked up five runs on seven hits. Carpenter responded by shutting down the Astros’ lineup in order in the bottom half of the frame. This has the look of a blowout.

The Cubs send Kyle Schwarber to the minors

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Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.

Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.

Now this:

The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.

The A’s designate Stephen Vogt for assignment

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A surprising move out of Oakland: the Athletics have designated catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment.

Vogt is suffering through a bad season at the plate, hitting .217/.287/.357, so on the basis of pure performance it’s understandable that the A’s may want to part ways with the 32-year-old former All-Star. That said, Vogt is considered to be a leader in the Oakland clubhouse and is one of the last players remaining from the A’s 2013-14 playoff teams.

Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogt’s place on the roster. Main catching duties will belong to Josh Phegley.