tony la russa and yadier molina cardinals

Can you hear me now? Bullpen phone mixup sinks Cardinals

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During his postgame press conference Tony La Russa shed light on the odd sequence of events that led to the Rangers taking the lead in the eighth inning, explaining that he stayed with left-hander Marc Rzepczynski to face right-handed slugger Mike Napoli and then used Lance Lynn solely to intentionally walk Ian Kinsler because the bullpen coach never heard him call for Jason Motte to get warmed up.

Seriously.

According to La Russa the dugout first placed a call to the bullpen to have Motte warm up alongside Rzepczynski, which would have gotten him ready to face Napoli. However, bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist either never picked up the phone or didn’t hear the instruction correctly.

Later a second call was made, but Lilliquist once again misunderstood the instructions and, according to La Russa, thought he heard “Lynn” rather than “Motte” even though Lynn was only to be used in what the manager described as an emergency situation. “I saw Lynn and was like ‘OK, what are you doing here,'” La Russa explained, adding that crowd noise has caused similar problems at other ballparks.

So without Motte ready to pitch La Russa stuck with Rzepczynski, who allowed the go-ahead double to Napoli, and then brought in Lynn only to remove him after an intentional walk. Motte finally came in after that and did his job, striking out Elvis Andrus to the end the inning, but the damage had already been done.

And all because the calls from the dugout to the bullpen were misunderstood.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.