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.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.