Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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The National League playoff picture got a step closer to taking shape last night, as the Cardinals walloped the Nationals 12-2 at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals are three games up on the Dodgers and five ahead of the Brewers for the second Wild Card spot with just five games to play.

Edwin Jackson was hit really hard by his former team, giving up nine runs (eight earned) on six hits and four walks over just 1 1/3 innings. It was his shortest outing of the season.

Allen Craig went 4-for-4 in the victory while Yadier Molina added to his case for National League MVP by hitting his 22nd home run. Adam Wainwright bounced back from some recent shaky efforts to toss six innings of one-run ball. Despite the loss, Bryce Harper went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. His OPS is now over .800 (.804) for the first time since July 18.

Because the Braves lost to the Mets last night, the Nationals’ magic number to clinch the National League East is down to two. They could clinch it tonight with a victory and another Braves loss. As for the Cardinals, their magic number to clinch the second Wild Card is at three.

Your Saturday box scores:

Reds 1, Pirates 0

Red Sox 1, Orioles 9

Phillies 1, Marlins 2

Royals 5, Indians 8

Mets 3, Braves 1

Yankees 11, Blue Jays 4

Astros 7, Brewers 6

Angels 7, Rangers 4

Rays 1, White Sox 3

Cubs 3, Diamondbacks 8

Tigers 2, Twins 4

Giants 3, Padres 1

Mariners 2, Athletics 8

Rockies 0, Dodgers 8

Rangers will not exercise Mike Napoli’s 2018 option

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The Rangers have informed 1B/DH Mike Napoli the club will not exercise his 2018 option, worth $11 million, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Instead, the Rangers will pay Napoli $2.5 million to buy him out of his contract, making him a free agent.

Napoli, 35, hit a disappointing .193/.285/.428 with 29 home runs and 66 RBI in 485 plate appearances this past season. Given his age and declining production, it’s not shocking that the Rangers want to look elsewhere.

Napoli turns 36 at the end of the month. Given his age and worsening peripheral stats, he will likely have to settle for a one-year deal this offseason.