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 Wolf, who allowed just two earned runs over seven solid innings, has been replaced by Francisco Rodriguez.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.

White Sox ballpark to be renamed “Guaranteed Rate Field”

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10:  General view as members of the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins stand for the National Anthem before the White Sox home opener at U.S. Cellular Field on April 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Stadium naming rights have long been with us. They’re just a part of the sports landscape now. Some are pretty spiffy despite their corporate underwriting: “Great American Ballpark” could be the name of a sports facility even if it wasn’t also the name of an insurance company. “Progressive Field” could be the name of a field even an anti-corporate dude like Bernie Sanders could appreciate, at least if he’s sloppy with capitalization.

Others are clunky: “Globe Life Park in Arlington” seems to have both adjective and preposition problems, as if it were run through a foreign language translator and then back again to English. The joint in Oakland went by the name O.co Coliseum for a spell. That was for Overstock.com, but it didn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

At the risk of being snobbish, I think it’s fair to say that there are also higher and lower rent names as well. Banks, airlines and beer companies, however crassly commercial they are, seem a bit more respectable and venerable than, say, the fly-by-night dot com companies which named sports facilities for several years. “Chase” and “Coors” aren’t going anyplace. Those places are named after American institutions, even if they’re still corporate institutions. I’m pretty sure that circa 2001 half the stadiums and arenas in the country were named after businesses still being run out of tech incubators in nondescript office parks, their first biggest investment being the naming rights, their second biggest investment being the ping pong table in the break room.

The White Sox have long played in “U.S. Cellular Field.” This is pretty dicey as it is, given that that company is only a regional wireless provider. Fifth largest in the country. Certainly not A-list, and likely far more identifiable to more Americans as the name of a ballpark than the name of a going telecommunications concern, thereby sort of defeating the purpose of naming rights. Which must be why U.S. Cellular is getting out of the naming rights business, leaving the White Sox to find a different naming rights partner:

As the tenth largest mortgage company in the country, is there even any guarantee that Guaranteed Rate will be in business in 2030? If the choices are “it goes under,” “it gets purchased by a larger lender” and “it’s still there,” I am not putting money on the latter choice.

That aside, it’s just a goofy name for a ballpark. It’ll better lend itself to columnist jokes about bad guaranteed contracts for bust veterans than it will to spreading awareness of a financial services company. And don’t even get me started on the dissonance between the ballpark name and its tenant’s ticket price policies:

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 4.48.18 PM

Best work on that, guys.

UPDATE: LOL

 

Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz cleared waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 10:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies follows through on a 3 RBI double in the ninth inning off of Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 10,  2016 in Los Angeles, California. Phillies won 6-2.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz have both cleared waivers, which means the club can attempt to trade either player unimpeded. Stark adds that two teams are mulling a pursuit of Ruiz, but Howard is “virtually certain” to stay with the Phillies.

Howard, 36, has unimpressive overall stats, as he’s carrying a .198/.252/.445 triple-slash line with 19 home runs and 43 RBI in 286 plate appearances. The Phillies have limited Howard to right-handed pitching by platooning him with Tommy Joseph.

Shockingly, Howard has been one of the best hitters of the second half, as Corinne Landrey explains at FanGraphs. Using wRC+, an all encompassing offensive statistic that sets 100 at average, only Joey Votto has been a more productive hitter since the All-Star break, owning a 226 wRC+ to Howard’s 191. Howard is trailed by Freddie Freeman (179), Adrian Gonzalez (149), and Paul Goldschmidt (140).

Howard is owed the remainder of his $25 million salary for the 2016 season as well as a $10 million buyout for ’17. Despite Howard’s productive second half and even if the Phillies were to cover all of the remaining money owed, there won’t be much of a market for an inconsistent 1B/DH in his mid-30’s who can’t field, can’t run, and can’t hit left-handed pitching.

Ruiz, 37, has had a solid season, batting .261/.368/.352 in 193 plate appearances. Like Howard, Ruiz has lost playing time at his primary position to a younger player — Cameron Rupp, in this case. Ruiz is owed the remainder of his $8.5 million salary and is under contract next season if his controlling club picks up his $4.5 million option. That option may make him even more attractive to interested clubs, as Ruiz is still a valuable catcher. He has accrued 1.3 Wins Above Replacement despite limited playing time and has a reputation for working well with his pitchers. A playoff-bound club could do a lot worse.