NLCS Game 5 Live Blog: Brewers vs. Cardinals

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11:15: It’s all over, as Craig Counsell pops out to Daniel Descalso at third base for the final out of the ballgame. The Cardinals win 7-1 and take a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. The series will resume Sunday in Milwaukee.

11:14: A little confusion in shallow left center, but Jon Jay catches a pop fly off the bat of Taylor Green for the second out.

11:12: “First ball swinging Yuni Betancourt” – Ah, everything is back to normal. Betancourt flies out to center field. One away.

11:07: Matt Holliday knocks in two runs with a double to left, extending the Cardinals’ lead to 7-1. They are three outs away from a 3-2 lead in the series.

11:02: Marco Estrada commits the Brewers’ fourth error of the game on a pickoff attempt at first base. Jon Jay ends up at second base on the errant throw.

10:58: Things are looking good for St. Louis at the moment, but this could potentially be Albert Pujols’ last home at-bat as a member of the Cardinals. Crowd gives him a nice hand.

10:52: Rickie Weeks grounds out to end the top of the eighth inning. Another scoring opportunity turned aside by the Cardinals’ bullpen.

10:48: Rzepczynski gets Fielder swinging for the second out. Huge out. Closer Jason Motte is coming in to face Rickie Weeks.

10:43: Braun grounds into a force out, as Rafael Furcal made an awkward play to cut down Hairston at second base. Marc Rzepczynski (no idea if I’m spelling that right) will come in to face Prince Fielder with runners at the corners.

10:40: Things are getting interesting here in the top of the eighth, as Lance Lynn walks Hairston. Runners on first and second with nobody out for Ryan Braun.

10:38: Corey Hart reaches with a leadoff single, his third hit of the night.

10:34: Lynn works the count full, but strikes out looking for the final out of the inning. It’s 5-1 Cardinals as we move to the top of the eighth inning.

10:31: After Kameron Loe induced a double play ground ball, he allowed a single to Yadier Molina and walked Nick Punto. Two away for Lance Lynn. Interesting that La Russa sticks with him as they have a chance to tack on some insurance runs, but everything he touches is turning to gold tonight.

10:23: Nyjer Morgan grounds into an inning-ending double play, much to the delight of the Busch Stadium faithful.

10:15: Chris Narveson, who replaced Greinke, just got Lance Berkman to ground out for the final out of the sixth. Didn’t see a replay, but it looked like Prince Fielder may have taken his foot off the first base bag before he caught the throw from Jerry Hairston, Jr. Anyway, it’s 5-1 Cardinals entering the seventh.

10:11: Pujols capitalizes on the error by Betancourt, delivering an RBI single to give the Cardinals a 5-1 lead. Greinke is done.

Greinke didn’t pitch well — in fact, he failed to strike out any of the 30 batters he faced tonight — but his defense didn’t do him any favors, either.

10:08: After a two-out double by Rafael Furcal, Yuniesky Betancourt boots a ground ball for the Brewers’ third error of the game. Two on for Albert Pujols. Yeesh.

10:01: Octavio Dotel, who struck out Braun to end the fifth inning, retires the Brewers in order in the top of the sixth.

9:54: Greinke wiggles his way out of the bases loaded jam, getting Molina to fly out to center fielder Carlos Gomez for the final out of the inning. The score remains 4-1 in favor of the Cardinals as we move to the sixth.

9:51: Freese walks, loading the bases for Yadier Molina. Greinke is on the ropes here as pitching coach Rick Kranitz visits the mound and Kameron Loe gets loose in the bullpen.

9:48: Yuniesky Betancourt saves a run with a diving stop, but is unable to get Matt Holliday at first base. First and third with two out for David Freese.

9:43: Rickie Weeks is charged with an error after making a horrible throw on a ground ball off the bat off Albert Pujols, who advances to second base on the play.

9:38: La Russa does it again. Dotel gets Braun swinging to end the top of the fifth as the Cards keep the Brewers off the board.

9:32: Quick hook, as Garcia is done after 4 2/3 innings. Dotel will pitch against Braun. La Russa’d.

9:31: Hairston follows with a single to left. Two on and two out for Ryan Braun while Octavio Dotel throws in the bullpen for St. Louis.

9:29: Hart gets the Brewers on the board with an RBI single to left. It’s now 4-1 Cardinals.

9:25: Greinke bunts Jonathan Lucroy over to second base. Two away for Corey Hart.

9:19: Carlos Gomez saves a run with a diving catch in center field, robbing Rafael Furcal of a hit. It’s 4-0 Cardinals as we move to the fifth in St. Louis.

9:16: And it works out. Garcia hit a ground ball to Yuniesky Betancourt, but he had no shot to cut down David Freese at home plate. Garcia gives the Cardinals a 4-0 lead with the RBI groundout.

9:14: You don’t see this often. The eighth place hitter Nick Punto bunts the runners over for the pitcher Jaime Garcia. Interesting choice by Tony La Russa.

9:13: Yadier Molina dumps a single off Rickie Weeks’ glove in shallow center field. Runners on first and second with nobody out for Nick Punto.

9:11: David Freese just keeps hitting. After getting hit by a pitch in the bottom of the second inning, he just lined a single to right field to lead off the bottom of the fourth.

9:07: Garcia sits the Brewers down in order in the top of the fourth.

9:05: Big, orange and fall of hot air = Boog Sciambi. Burn, John Smoltz. Burn.

9:02: Greinke works around a walk to Albert Pujols to pitch a scoreless third. It’s 3-0 Cardinals as we move to the top of the fourth.

8:56: Rafael Betancourt follows Albert Pujols with a fine over the shoulder catch of his own. Of course he does.

8:54: Albert Pujols makes a fantastic over the shoulder grab on a foul ball along the first base line to end the threat. This guy is good at baseball.

8:52: Hairston strikes out swinging. Two away for Ryan Braun. Does he get anything to hit here?

8:50: Corey Hart singles, moving Greinke over to third base. Here comes Jerry Hairston Jr. with a chance to redeem himself.

8:47: Zack Greinke reaches with a one-out single. Didn’t see a beastmode this time.

8:43: Furcal grounds out for the final out of the bottom of the second inning, but the Cardinals put a three-spot on the board.

8:41: Oh boy. Garcia hits one right between the legs of Hairston, scoring two runs. It’s now 3-0 Cardinals. After the play, a frustrated Greinke threw the baseball into the ground and it came up and hit him in the neck. Garcia remained at first base, however.

8:40: Jerry Hairston Jr. just robbed Nick Putno of an RBI single with a diving stop at third base. Two away for Jamie Garcia.

8:37: Molina drives one just over the outstretched glove of Corey Hart for an RBI double. He narrowly missed a three-run homer. It’s now 1-0 Cards with runners on second and third for Nick Punto.

8:35: Greinke hits the hot-hitting David Freese. Runners on first and second with one out for Yadier Molina.

8:33: Berkman, who didn’t start Game 4, hits a leadoff single against Greinke in the bottom of the second inning. First hit of the night for the Cards.

8:28: Gomez was on the move and got picked off by Jamie Garcia to end the top of the second inning. He was 16-for-18 in stolen base attempts during the regular season.

8:25: Carlos Gomez, who is making the start in center field against the southpaw, dunks a two-out single into left field.

8:19: Albert Pujols hit a ground ball right up the middle, but the Brewers had him positioned perfectly. Zack Greinke retires the Cardinals in order in the bottom of the first.

8:16: Rafael Furcal lines out to Corey Hart in right field for the first out in the bottom of the first.

8:13: Garcia fans Prince Fielder for the final out in the top of the first inning, stranding Braun at second base.

8:10: Ryan Braun smacks a two-out double down the third base line. He is now batting .486 (17-for-35) during the postseason.

8:07: Garcia strikes out Hart swinging to get us started.

8:06: And we’re off! Jaime Garcia delivers a first-pitch strike to Corey Hart.

7:45 p.m. ET: The Brewers and Cardinals are all tied up at 2-2 going into Game 5 of the NLCS tonight at Busch Stadium. We’ll have it all covered in a live blog, beginning right around first-pitch at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Here are tonight’s lineups, as mentioned by Aaron earlier this afternoon:

MILWAUKEE BREWERS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

1. Corey Hart, RF               1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Jerry Hairston, 3B           2. Jon Jay, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF               3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B           4. Lance Berkman, RF
5. Rickie Weeks, 2B             5. Matt Holliday, LF
6. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS      6. David Freese, 3B
7. Carlos Gomez, CF             7. Yadier Molina, C
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C           8. Nick Punto, 2B

SP Zack Greinke, RHP            SP Jaime Garcia, LHP

Feel free to join the conversation in our comments section.

Former U.S. Senator and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning dies at age 85

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Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame right-handed pitcher and former U.S. Senator, died on Friday at age 85. He suffered a stroke in October 2016 and was in hospice care when he died, according to former Senate chief of staff Jon Deuser.

Bunning rose to prominence in Major League Baseball during his first full season with the Tigers in 1957, recording 14 complete games and a league-leading 20 wins. The following year, Bunning pitched his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox, just the fourth no-hitter in franchise history. During his first season with the Phillies in 1964, Bunning followed up his no-hitter with a perfect game against the Mets, marking the first National League perfecto in the 20th century. By the time he retired in 1971, he boasted seven All-Star nominations, 2,855 strikeouts (maintaining his second-place ranking on the all-time strikeout list from 1967-1971) and a 224-184 record over 17 seasons.

Following a storied major league career, Bunning entered politics at age 46, serving 12 years in the House and eventually getting elected to the Senate at age 67, where he served two terms. The Republican senator was famously outspoken for his opposition to steroids in baseball, illegal immigration and an extension of unemployment benefits, among other issues, and drew criticism within his party for his ornery nature and controversial statements. He declined to run for a third term in 2010, citing a lack of financial support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and choosing instead to throw his weight behind fellow candidate Rand Paul.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement following news of Bunning’s death on Saturday:

Jim Bunning led an extraordinary life in the National Pastime and in public service.  He was a consistent winner and workhorse pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies.  Jim threw no-hitters in both leagues, pitched a perfect game on Father’s Day in 1964 and, at his retirement, had more strikeouts than any pitcher in history except Walter Johnson.

“In his baseball career, Jim was proud of always taking the ball.  The work ethic that made him a Hall of Famer led him to the House of Representatives and the United Stated Senate.  He served the state of Kentucky for more than two decades and became the only Hall of Famer ever to serve in Congress.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Senator Bunning’s family, friends, constituents and the many fans who admired his career in our game.

Homer Simpson was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame

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Twenty-five years ago, “Homer at the Bat” became one of the most iconic Simpsons episodes of all time. Legendary talents like Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, Jose Canseco, Mike Scioscia, Steve Sax, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr. lent their talents to the episode while their cartoon doppelgängers were put through the ringer, leaving only Homer Simpson and Darryl Strawberry to clinch the city softball championship for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant squad. On Saturday, the show’s creators were recognized when Homer Simpson was awarded a long-overdue membership in the Hall of Fame.

The full text from Homer’s honorary plaque is below:

Inept safety inspector turned city-wide softball hero. Right fielder led Springfield nuclear plant to city championship game, then sacrificed his body to win it all. Nearly supplanted by lineup of all-world superstar ringers, came through in a pinch — and came to in time for the next episode. Girthy right-handed hitter powered many a mighty wallop during celebrated 1992 season with “Wonderbat” — his secret weapon. Lack of mobility in the field was no match for moves atop the dugout. Found fame as bush league mascot phenom, parlaying his “elephant walk” into a taste of the majors. Unacquainted with scientific concepts, only isotopes of which he was aware played at Duff Stadium, where uncanny knowledge of southwestern palate exposed team’s impending move to Albuquerque.

“Homer at the Bat” will be enshrined in Cooperstown with a special display, featuring the plaque alongside some of the more memorable moments of the episode.