La Russa presses the right buttons again, Cardinals defeat Rangers in World Series Game 1

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Locked in a 2-2 tie with the Rangers in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday night at Busch Stadium, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa stuck by the script he’s been authoring since his club snuck into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

Game 1 starter Chris Carpenter was cruising, fresh of a clean top of the sixth. His pitch count was at a meager 87 and Alexi Ogando, who had been nearly unhittable this October, trotted to the mound with two outs in relief of Rangers starter C.J. Wilson.

But the Cardinals had David Freese on third base, via a one-out double then a wild pitch, and Nick Punto at first base courtesy of a pitch-around-him walk. Hoping to capitalize, La Russa opted to pull Carpenter from the game for pinch-hitter Allen Craig.

Once again, TLR’s quick hook worked.

Craig laced a ball down the right-field line, just beyond the glove of a sliding Nelson Cruz, scoring Freese from third and lifting the Cardinals to a 3-2 lead. Thanks to another fine performance by the St. Louis bullpen, that 3-2 score would hold. Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel and Arthur Rhodes combined to throw two scoreless innings before beared saves man Jason Motte closed it out with a perfect ninth.

The Cardinals will take a 1-0 series lead into Thursday night’s Game 2. The staggering storyline rolls on.

David Price likely to be scratched with a “barking” elbow

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David Price is reported to have a “barking” elbow and it is expected that the Red Sox will scratch him from tonight’s start against the Royals in Boston. Dan Shaughnessy reports that the elbow soreness is similar to what he was feeling in the spring and that the Red Sox may place him on the disabled list.

Price was knocked around for six runs — five earned — in five innings against the Angels in his last start. He was also the subject of controversy soon after that after Shaughnessy reported the details of his run-in with Dennis Eckersley on the Sox team plane in June. That incident and his elbow are obviously separate things, but that’s not stopping the talk radio from people using the report of Price’s elbow to question is fortitude and stuff. Which is dumb, even if it is predictable. If you want to question Price’s character, fine, but to suggest that it’s related to his health is a silly way to go about it.

Price is 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA and a 63/22 K/BB ratio in 66 innings across 11 starts this year. The Red Sox are a half game up on the Yankees in the AL East.

The Yankees and A’s are at an impasse on a Sonny Gray deal

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There was a lot of talk yesterday that the New York Yankees and the Oakland A’s were close to a Sonny Gray deal, but that seems to be at an impasse now, as Jon Heyman reports that the A’s want either either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres and the Yankees say both of those prospects are off limits.

Frazier, who has held his own with a .284/.299/.541 line since his callup at the beginning of the month, is a key part of the Yankees future or — if you think Brian Cashman is bluffing here — a prime trade chit for someone better than Sonny Gray. Torres, despite his season ending due to Tommy John surgery following a freak play, is widely considered the Yankees shortstop of the future. Again, no one is untouchable in the right deal, but it’s an open question as to whether Sonny Gray is really the guy you burn your top prospects for.

There are lesser pitchers for whom the Yankees could trade, such as Jaime Garcia. Or, if they want to take a chance on a rental, they could go after Yu Darvish. But at the moment it does not seem like a Gray-to-New York deal is gonna happen.