Mike Matheny’s quick hook pays off as Cardinals even NLDS with Nationals

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UPDATE: Well, this adds a new wrinkle to Matheny’s decision. According to Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jaime Garcia was pulled from the game because he aggravated a previous shoulder injury. He has been sent for an MRI.

8:13 PM: After being outmaneuvered by Davey Johnson in the Cardinals’ Game 1 loss to the Nationals yesterday, Mike Matheny made an interesting call in the bottom of the second inning this afternoon.

His starter, Jaime Garcia, labored over the first two innings, giving up one run on two hits and three walks while throwing 51 pitches. Meanwhile, the Cardinals had two runs home in the bottom of the second and the chance for more against Jordan Zimmermann, who was on the ropes. After the Cardinals squandered a number of scoring opportunities yesterday, Matheny wasn’t going to let it happen again, so he sent Skip Schumaker up as a pinch-hitter for Garcia. The Cardinals ended up scoring two more runs in the second inning and well, they never really stopped.

The Cardinals poured it on again Zimmermann and the Nationals, collecting 13 hits and four home runs as part of a 12-4 win. Carlos Beltran had a pair of home runs and drove in three while Daniel Descalso and Allen Craig added solo homers.

Lance Lynn wasn’t all that great in relief of Garcia, allowing back-to-back homers to Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche in the fifth inning, but he ate up three innings before handing the ball to the rest of the bullpen. Joe Kelly, Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Trevor Rosenthal then held the Nationals to just one run over the final four innings to lock down the victory.

The NLDS is now tied 1-1 and will resume Wednesday in Washington, D.C. for Game 3. Edwin Jackson, who was a member of the Cardinals’ World Series team last year, is scheduled to pitch for the Nationals while Chris Carpenter is expected to pitch for the defending champs.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.