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Albert Pujols leads the way in Game 2 blowout win over Brewers

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Albert Pujols didn’t do everything for the Cardinals tonight, but it sure seemed like it at times.

Pujols went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, three doubles, five RBI and three runs scored in a 12-3 win over the Brewers in Game 2 of the NLCS, tying the series at 1-1. As part of a 17-hit attack by the Cardinals, David Freese homered for the second straight game while Jon Jay added three hits and Nick Punto chipped in with a pair of RBI singles.

Pujols is just the fourth player in postseason history to have four extra-base hits in the same game. The others:

Hideki Matsui: NYY vs. BOS – 2004 ALCS Game 3 (won 19-8)
Bob Robertson: PIT at SFG – 1971 NLCS Game 2 (won 9-4)
Frank Isbell: CWS vs. CHC – 1906 WS Game 5 (won 8-6)

Just icing on the cake, Pujols is the first player with four hits, four RBI and 10 total bases in an NLCS game since former Giants’ first baseman Will Clark in 1989 against the Cubs. Pujols now has 14 home runs and 42 RBI in his postseason career, passing former center fielder Jim Edmonds for the franchise record.

Shaun Marcum was smoked for five runs on seven hits over four innings in Monday’s loss. He has allowed 12 runs over 8 2/3 innings during the postseason, good enough for an ugly 11.25 ERA.

While this game ended up being a laugher, the Brewers actually had a chance to make things interesting in the fifth inning. After Edwin Jackson was chased from the game with the score 7-2, Rickie Weeks came up to the plate with the bases loaded against right-hander Lance Lynn. He hit into what was seemingly a rally-killing double-play to end the inning, however, it was clearly a blown call by first base umpire Sam Holbrook. The Cardinals poured it on offensively from there, including a four-run seventh inning, but this may have been a different ballgame if he made the right call.

Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder both homered in a losing cause for the Brewers while Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a double. Braun is batting .500 (13-for-26) during the postseason.

The series will now turn to St. Louis on Wednesday night, when Chris Carpenter takes on Yovani Gallardo.

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.