Ryan Howard

NLDS Phillies-Cardinals Game 3 Live Blog

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8:21: Theriot bounces out to second base to end it. The Phillies win the ballgame 3-2 and take a 2-1 lead over the Cardinals in the NLDS.

The Phillies will attempt to advance to the NLCS tomorrow night when Roy Oswalt goes up against Edwin Jackson.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and stay tuned for a recap.

8:18: Molina delivers with an RBI single to bring the score to 3-2. Ryan Theriot, who is 4-4 on the day, will come to the plate. Kyle Lohse is running for Molina here.

8:17: David Freese grounds out to second base for the second out. Pujols moves over to third. Last licks for the Cards with Yadier Molina coming to the plate.

8:13: Berkman flies out to center field. One away for David Freese, who had an RBI single in his last at-bat.

8:11: Pujols leads off with a double. He’s 4-for-5 with three doubles tonight. Lance Berkman will come up as the tying run. Edge-of-your-seat stuff here.

8:09: Madson strikes out to end the inning. It’s 3-1 Phillies as we move to the bottom of the ninth.

Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and David Freese are due to bat against Madson.

8:06: They got it right. After the umpires huddled together, it was ruled as a catch. Nicely done.

8:04: Human element alert! Skip Schumaker, who came on to play center field for Jon Jay, just caught that fly ball by Carlos Ruiz, but it was ruled as a trap by Jerry Meals.

7:58: Oh boy, did the Phillies just get out of a pickle. Madson induces the double play ground ball on Craig to end the inning. Huge. It’s 3-1 Phillies as we move to the top of the ninth.

7:54: High drama in St. Louis.

Rafael Furcal dumps a single into to left after one heck of an at-bat against Brad Lidge. Allen Craig will come to the plate with the bases loaded and one out, but he’ll face closer Ryan Madson. By the way, Madson hasn’t had more than a three-out save all season.

7:49: Holliday reaches with a pinch-hit single to right field. Runners on first and second for leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal. Adron Chambers pinch runs for Holliday.

7:48: Fans chanting “Albert Pujols” at Brad Lidge as he enters the ballgame.

7:46: Punto skies it to center field for the first out. As expected, Charlie Manuel will bring in Brad Lidge to face Matt Holliday.

7:43: Tony La Russa counters, as Nick Punto comes up to hit for Jon Jay.

7:41: Theriot leads off with a single. He’s 4-for-4 on the day. Here comes Charlie Manuel with the hook. Antonio Bastardo is coming in to face Jon Jay. By the way, Matt Holliday is on deck in the pitcher’s spot. We’ll likely see Brad Lidge after the at-bat with Jay.

7:37: Salas sits the Phillies down in order in the top of the eighth. Interestingly, Vance Worley is headed back out there for another inning, though Brad Lidge and Antonio Bastardo are staying warm in the bullpen.

7:34: Fernando Salas on for the Cardinals in the eighth, as Jaime Garcia is done for the day. He allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings while striking out three and walking two.

7:30: Worley gets Yadier Molina to fly out to right field to end the threat. It’s 3-1 Phillies as we move to the top of the eighth inning in St. Louis.

7:28: The Cardinals are on the board. Freese delivers with an RBI single to cut the Phillies’ lead to 3-1. First and second with two outs for Yadier Molina.

7:27: Berkman hits a ground ball to Utley, who cuts down Pujols at second base. Smart play. First and third with two outs for David Freese, who has had a rough day at the plate.

7:25: Pujols dumps a single into shallow right field. The Cardinals will bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Lance Berkman.

7:24: Vance Worley issues a one-out walk to Allen Craig. Here comes Albert Pujols, who has two doubles on the day.

7:18: Jimmy Rollins stole third base after reaching on a double over the head of Jon Jay, but Garcia was able to get Chase Utley to ground out to end the inning. Still, the damage is done. It’s 3-0 Phillies as we move to the bottom of the seventh in St. Louis.

7:14: Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Ben Francisco delivers with a pinch-hit three-run blast. And Busch Stadium is rendered silent.

7:12: Now the Cardinals are walking Ruiz with first base open to pitch to Ben Francisco, who is pinch hitting for Cole Hamels. Don’t like this for the Cardinals.

7:09: Berkman catches the low liner from Mayberry and Victorino is nearly doubled off at second base. Phew, that was close.

7:08: Molina makes a rare mistake by losing a ball in the dirt, so Victorino advances to second base.

7:06: Leadoff single for Shane Victorino to begin the top of the seventh.

7:02: The walk works for the Phillies, as Garcia strikes out swinging to end the sixth. Hamels now has eight strikeouts over six scoreless innings, but with 117 pitches under his belt, he’s almost certainly done for the day.

6:58: Jon Jay draws a walk. Don’t want to count Jaime Garcia out here, but at least the Cardinals could have their leadoff hitter up in the seventh.

Vance Worley is warming up for the Phillies as Hamels is now at 112 pitches.

6:57: Two-out single by Ryan Theriot. He has three of the Cardinals’ five hits this afternoon.

6:53: We have a streaker in St. Louis! Don’t get too excited. It’s just a squirrel. Best part was the fan trying to grab it. It’s not a foul ball, dude.

6:46: Howard makes contact this time, but grounds out harmlessly to first base to end the inning. Garcia has six scoreless innings under his belt, but isn’t getting any help from his offense.

6:44: Interesting. Garcia walking Pence with first base open to pitch to Ryan Howard with two outs. Howard has struck out in his first two at-bats today.

6:42: Dick Stockton pronounces Jaime Garcia like “Jamey.” Cringe.

6:40: “Looks like Dave could use a little floss.” – Bob Brenly on Cardinals’ pitching Dave Duncan.

6:37: Hamels gave that one a ride to the opposite field, but Allen Craig was able to catch up to it for the first out of the inning. Nice running grab.

6:35: Hamels escapes by getting Berkman on a groundout. Another opportunity missed for the Cardinals, as we’re scoreless through five innings. Hamels is at 86 pitches, by the way.

6:32: Pujols sends another one to the right-center field gap. His second two-out double of the ballgame.

6:27: Do I really need to say it? Another 1-2-3 inning for Jaime Garcia. The southpaw has allowed just two hits over five scoreless frames, throwing 39 out of 51 pitches for strikes. Still no score.

6:23: The birthday boy Tony La Russa is in a much better mood tonight than he was Sunday. After the fine this week, he says his jaws are “wired shut.” Garcia has thrown 31 out of 39 pitches for strikes to begin the fifth, so little to complain about, really.

6:19: The Phillies give the intentional pass to Jon Jay in order to pitch to Jaime Garcia, who hits a broken-bat ground ball to end the inning. We’re scoreless through four innings in St. Louis.

6:16: Theriot power! He reaches on a chopper down the third base line that traveled about 45 feet.

6:14: Is Rich Dubee wearing a calculator watch? It would be sweet if he was. Those things were awesome in the 80s.

6:10: Here’s a very fun read on why Tony La Russa decided to play Lance Berkman in right field today. Hat-tip to Bill of the Platoon Advantage.

6:08: Garcia cruises through another 1-2-3 inning. He has thrown 31 out of 39 pitches for strikes over four scoreless innings.

6:02: Hamels dances around a walk to Allen Craig to make it out of the third. Sorry, had to do it.

6:00: I’m convinced that mentioning these tidbits like “Player X is 3-for-9 lifetime against Player Y” is just a way for broadcasters to kill time.

5:57: “Only one win in his last eight starts” – Dick Stockton about Cole Hamels. Is this supposed to mean something?

5:51: Utley grounds out to Albert Pujols to end the threat. We’re scoreless going into the bottom of the third. Despite the two hits, Garcia only threw 11 pitches in that inning.

5:49: Not sure Jon Jay ever saw that liner from Jimmy Rollins, but he probably didn’t have a realistic shot at it, anyway. Here’s Utley with runners on first and second and two away.

5:47: I blinked the Phillies already have one out. Do they have dinner reservations or something?

5:46: All-time career OPS reference on the TBS broadcast. Silly “Moneyball” stats.

5:43: Hamels makes it through the second inning unscathed, but has already thrown 39 pitches.

5:41: Jon Jay strikes out looking with a pitch off the outside corner. Has La Russa complained about the strike zone yet?

5:37: Ryan Theriot with a one-out single. And he dove head-first into first base, just for the heck of it. Ok, not really.

5:34: And…Yadier Molina narrowly misses a home run down the left field line.

5:30: And he gets Mayberry swinging, as well. Garcia has thrown 19 pitches over two scoreless innings so far this afternoon.

5:25: Howard goes down swinging to begin the top of the second inning.

5:20: The Cards catch the Phillies off guard with a double-steal. Interesting considering Pujols’ recent heel injury. Turns out it doesn’t matter much as Freese strikes out to end the inning.

5:19: Berkman hit on the foot by the pitch. Runners on first and second now for David Freese.

5:18: Albert Pujols sends one to the right-center field gap for a two-out double. Here comes Berkman.

5:14: These shadows are intense, but I’m not sure anything could be worse than Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee. Yovani Gallardo was excellent, but the sun definitely helped him against those Diamondbacks hitters.

5:12: Rangers-Rays update: Desmond Jennings grounds out to second base to end it. Rangers win 4-3 and are headed to the ALCS. Ok, no more flipping back and forth.

5:10: Hunter Pence lines out to Rafael Furcal to end a 1-2-3 first inning for Jaime Garcia. Up come the Cardinals.

5:08: After taking a first-pitch strike to begin the ballgame, Jimmy Rollins is retired on a foul pop-up to Albert Pujols.

5:07: Craig Sager is neon. That is all.

5:04: I know this is a Phillies-Cardinals thread, but I’m still keeping an eye on Rangers-Rays. The Rays are down to their final two outs against Neftali Feliz.

5:02: Awkward intro there on the telecast. Must be distracted by all those white rally towels. Have I ever told you how much I hate rally towels?

5:00 p.m. ET: After splitting the first two games in Philadelphia, the Phillies and Cardinals will play Game 3 of the NLDS this afternoon/evening in St. Louis.

Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA) is on the mound for the Cardinals while Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.79 ERA) starts for the Phillies.

I’ll be dropping some of my random thoughts and observations here throughout the ballgame. Feel free to join the conversation in our comments section.

Looking for lineups? We have you covered right here.

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.