NLCS Brewers Cardinals Baseball

NLCS Game 4 Live Blog: Brewers vs. Cardinals

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11:31pm: Furcal grounds out to short, ending Game 4 of the NLCS. The Brewers captured a 4-2 victory and have guaranteed that the series will travel back to Miller Park. NLCS Game 5 is Friday night at 8:05 p.m. ET. Thanks for hanging out.

11:29pm: Berkman punches a single through the right side of the Brewers’ infield. Furcal is up.

11:26pm: Jay grounds out to short. Berkman steps in with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

11:24pm: Theriot completes an 0-for-4 night with a soft groundout in front of the plate. One out.

11:22pm: Theriot and Jay are coming up. We could see Lance Berkman as a pinch-hitter after those two hit.

11:19pm: Gomez flies out to deep center, then Braun strikes out. To the bottom of the ninth…

11:12pm: Morgan flares a single to left field after a long battle with Salas. One out for Carlos Gomez, who replaced Kotsay in the outfield earlier in the game. Braun will bat if Gomez avoids the double play.

11:08pm: Salas remains in the game for St. Louis and strikes out the pinch-hitting Jonathan Lucroy.

11:04pm: Molina fans on a ball in the dirt to end the threat. To the ninth inning we go…

10:59pm: Holliday grounds out to Hairston. Fielder makes an excellent pick at first base. Two down.

10:56pm: Freese registers his eighth hit of the NLCS with a single to center field. Holliday is up.

10:55pm: Pujols is retired on a groundout up the middle. The Brewers had perfect positioning.

10:53pm: The Cardinals will send Pujols, Freese and Holliday to the plate in a crucial eighth inning. Wolf, who allowed just two earned runs over seven solid innings, has been replaced by Francisco Rodriguez.

10:51pm: Betancourt grounds out to the pitcher, Kottaras pops out to Molina. Quick work by Salas.

10:45pm: The Cardinals’ fifth pitcher of the night is right-hander Fernando Salas, and he quickly retires Hairston on a fly ball to left field. Betancourt and Kottaras are due up next for Milwaukee.

10:43pm: Craig is retired on a weak groundout back to the pitcher. Pujols is left standing in the on-deck circle. The Brewers still hold a 4-2 lead in this NLCS Game 4 as we roll to the top of the eighth inning.

10:40pm: Morgan, now playing right field, tracks down a hard-hit ball from Furcal. Two down.

10:38pm: Punto strikes out as Wolf’s impressive outing continues. One down.

10:35pm: The Cards will send pinch-hitter Nick Punto to the plate to open the bottom of the seventh.

10:32pm: Weeks also falls to 0-2, then strikes out swinging. He appeared to strike out looking on the pitch before, but third base umpire Gary Darling called timeout before Dotel went into his delivery.

10:29pm: Fielder falls to 0-2, then draws a two-out walk. Weeks will bat next.

10:25pm: Kotsay grounds out to first base, then Braun strikes out. In steps Fielder.

10:23pm: The Cardinals will turn to right-hander Octavio Dotel to start the seventh.

10:19pm: Theriot chases a high fastball for the second out of the inning, then Jay hits a lazy fly ball to center field. The Brewers will carry a 4-2 NLCS Game 4 lead into the top of the seventh inning.

10:16pm: Molina flies out to center, but Holliday advances to third on Morgan’s weak arm. One down.

10:13pm: Holliday smacks a leadoff double to the left-center field gap. Molina steps to bat for the Cards.

10:10pm: Morgan strikes out looking. But the Brewers lead by two as we move to the bottom of the sixth.

10:09pm: Wolf is retired on a bunt. Morgan steps in to big boos from the St. Louis crowd.

10:08pm: Theriot bobbles a hot shot from Kottaras. Weeks scores, Hairston moves to third. Kottaras is safe at first base. The Brewers now have a 4-2 lead over the Cardinals in the top of the sixth inning.

10:04pm: Tony La Russa calls on veteran southpaw Arthur Rhodes to face Kottaras, a left-handed hitter.

10:01pm: Betancourt grounds out to shortstop. Weeks can’t score. One down.

9:59pm: Hairston follows quickly with a double over Furcal’s head. Weeks is at third base. No outs.

9:58pm: Weeks hits a leadoff single, and the Brewers are threatening yet again.

9:54pm: Freese grounds out to short to end the fifth. A big zero for the Brewers and Wolf as we move along to the sixth inning. The Brewers will send Weeks, Hairston and Betancourt to the plate.

9:51pm: Craig goes down looking, but Pujols keeps the inning alive with a sharply-struck single to left.

9:47pm: Furcal grounds out to third base to open the bottom of the fifth. Craig and Pujols are due up next.

9:40pm: Theriot starts a brilliant double play on Fielder, putting an end to the top of the fifth inning.

9:39pm: Braun punches a ball through the left side of the Cardinals’ infield, scoring Morgan from third base. The Brewers now have a 3-2 lead in this NLCS Game 4 with Fielder stepping to the dish.

9:34pm: Lohse is done after 4 1/3 innings. He allowed six hits and two earned runs (though Morgan will also count against him if he scores). The Cardinals’ first reliever will be right-hander Mitchell Boggs.

9:32pm: Kotsay grounds out, but advances Morgan to third base. Braun is up with just one out.

9:30pm: Morgan doubles down the left-field line, flashing a big “Beast Mode” after reaching second base.

9:29pm: The Brewers are back to the top of their batting order. Morgan steps in to more boos.

9:27pm: Another quick pitch count update: Wolf is at 64, Lohse is up to 72.

9:25pm: Theriot flies out to left field to open the bottom of the fourth inning and Jay follows with a weak groundout to first base. Lohse then pops out to center, capping an easy frame for the Brewers’ Wolf.

9:20pm: Kottaras grounds out to second base, then Wolf flies out to center. We head to the bottom half…

9:15pm: Betancourt singles to center field, scoring Hairston from second base. This one is tied, 2-2.

9:14pm: Hairston doubles down the left field line, just beyond the glove of a diving Freese. Fielder scores easily as the Brewers close to within one run. Betancourt will try to pour on some more.

9:13pm: Weeks strokes a line drive to right-center, but Jay is in the right spot to snag it. One down.

9:11pm: Fielder rips a leadoff double to the right-center field gap. Weeks steps in, looking for a big hit.

9:05pm: Molina can’t pad the lead, grounding out to short. The Cardinals will take a 2-0 lead into the top of the fourth inning. Fielder, Weeks and Hairston will come to the plate against Lohse.

9:04pm: Holliday draws a four-pitch walk. Two baserunners on for Molina.

9:02pm: Freese keeps the inning alive with a shot off of Betancourt’s glove. Holliday will bat.

9:01pm: Pujols grounds out to short and is now 0-for-2 in this NLCS Game 4. Two outs.

8:58pm: Allen “Wrench” Craig sends an opposite-field homer into the right-field bullpen, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. It also appeared to catch the wind. Pujols steps to the plate, looking to add on.

8:57pm: Furcal flies out again to center field to open the bottom of the third inning.

8:54pm: Braun falls to 0-2, then pops out to first base. Lohse works out of the jam to preserve the Cardinals’ one-run lead. St. Louis will send Furcal, Craig and Pujols to the plate in the bottom of the third.

8:52pm: Kotsay flies out to left field. Two outs, but Braun steps in with two ducks on the pond.

8:50pm: Morgan gets caught on the right arm by an inside pitch, takes first base. One out.

8:49pm: Wolf smacks a double to right field. Morgan comes to the plate to more boos.

8:47pm: Kottaras strikes out looking. Lohse looks to be settling in nicely. Wolf steps to the dish.

8:45pm: A quick pitch count update on both starting pitchers: Lohse is at 29, Wolf is at 36.

8:43pm: Lohse strikes out after chasing a couple of high fastballs. The Cardinals lead the Brewers 1-0 in this NLCS Game 4 as we move to the top of the third inning. Kottaras, Wolf and Morgan will bat.

8:41pm: Jay grounds out softly to first base, so Molina can’t score from third. Lohse steps in.

8:40pm: Theriot reaches first base when Weeks muffs a routine groundball. Molina to third, Jay is up.

8:37pm: Molina drills a ground-rule double down the right field line, then mocks the Brewers’ “Beast Mode” gesture with what we’re calling the “Cry Baby.” Theriot will bat with a runner in scoring position.

8:33pm: Holliday hits a ball that barely squeaks over the right field fence, just to the left of the foul pole. It looked to catch the wind, which is blowing out to right. St. Louis leads 1-0 here in the second inning.

8:31pm: Freese strikes out swinging to lead off the bottom of the second inning. Holliday is up.

8:28pm: Betancourt flies out to center field. A quick second inning for Lohse, who was able to get ahead of all three batters he faced. He fell behind all four hitters he faced in that shaky first inning.

8:27pm: Hairston hits a hot shot to third base. Freese makes the play. Two outs for Milwaukee.

8:26pm: Weeks grounds out to shortstop. He, too, voiced concerns about the strike zone.

8:22pm: Pujols chases a low pitch and strikes out. Wolf registers a perfect first frame. He’s the first starting pitcher on the Brewers’ staff to keep the Cardinals scoreless through the first inning.

8:20pm: Craig grounds out sharply to third base. Pujols will bat with the bases empty.

8:18pm: Furcal swings on the first pitch and launches a ball to the warning track in center field, but Morgan snares it. Wolf, the Brewers’ starter, has had trouble containing offenses in the early innings.

8:14pm: Fielder chases a ball in the dirt, giving Lohse his second strikeout. To the bottom of the first…

8:12pm: Braun singles up the middle for the Brewers’ first hit of the game. In steps Fielder.

8:10pm: Kotsay fans looking, has a few words with the home plate umpire, then heads to the dugout.

8:06pm: Morgan steps to the plate to boos, then grounds out to shortstop.

7:43pm: We’ll get underway at the top of the hour. Wouldn’t want to interrupt TBS’ thrilling pregame show.

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The Cardinals are carrying a 2-1 series lead into Thursday night’s NLCS Game 4 against the Brewers. First pitch is scheduled for just after 8:00 p.m. ET. Follow along as we provide updates throughout the night.

Your starting lineups, as shared earlier:

   MILWAUKEE BREWERS            ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
1. Nyjer Morgan, CF          1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Mark Kotsay, RF           2. Allen Craig, RF
3. Ryan Braun, LF            3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B        4. David Freese, 3B
5. Rickie Weeks, 2B          5. Matt Holliday, LF
6. Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B    6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS   7. Ryan Theriot, 2B
8. George Kottaras, C        8. Jon Jay, CF
9. Randy Wolf, LHP           9. Kyle Lohse, RHP

Updates will read bottom-to-top. Consider the comments section an “open thread.” Let’s do this.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.