Daniel Descalso Getty

Cardinals cash in on early opportunities against Nationals, grab 7-1 lead

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The Cardinals had all sorts of opportunities in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Nationals yesterday, but they collected just three hits and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They aren’t wasting those chances today.

The Cardinals got to Jordan Zimmermann early and currently lead the Nationals 7-1 through four innings in St. Louis.

The Nationals got on the board first via an RBI single by Zimmermann in the top of the second inning, but the Cardinals battled right back with four straight hits to begin the bottom-half of the inning, including an RBI double by David Freese and an RBI single by Daniel Descalso. After seeing his team squander opportunities yesterday, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny then made the bold decision to have Skip Schumaker pinch-hit for starting pitcher Jamie Garcia. It paid off, as Schumaker drove in a run with a ground out before Jon Jay knocked in Descalso with the fourth run before he was cut down trying to stretch a single into a double.

Allen Craig extended the Cardinals’ lead in the third with a solo home run just inside the left field foul pole. The Cardinals tacked on two more in the fourth, as Descalso hit a solo homer to right-center field off Craig Stammen and Pete Kozma scored on a fielding error by Ian Desmond. Lance Lynn is currently pitching for the Cardinals, who appear poised to bring this series to 1-1 going to Washington, D.C.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.