St. Louis Cardinals' Kozma hits a three run home run in front of Washington Nationals catcher Suzuki during the second inning in Game 3 of their MLB NLDS baseball series in Washington

NLDS Game 3 Live Blog: Cardinals vs. Nationals, baby!

80 Comments

4:42 PM: Bryce Harper flies out to second and that’s the ballgame. Cardinals win 8-0 and take a 2-1 lead. The Nats’ backs are up against the wall.

Stay tuned to HBT for some postgame analysis and all kinds of other things on a busy, busy evening of playoff baseball.

4:41 PM: Jayson Werth walks. He’s the Nats first baserunner since the sixth inning.

4:24 PM: After not going down in order in any of the first six innings, the Nats have gone down 1-2-3 in both the seventh and the eighth. We’re heading to the ninth with the score still 8-0.

4:18 PM: Michael Morse with a long fly out. No oohs or ahhs from the crowd this time. They’re starting to get jaded just like the fans of every other team. Playoff frustration will do that to you.

4:15 PM: Costas and Kaat continuing on the Strasburg stuff. Believe me, I have beaten that horse as much as anyone, but the two pitchers who pooped the bed in this series so far would have pitched even if Strasburg was on the team. And the Nats offense has sucked too. Strasburg will be a fun conversation topic if the Nats lose this series, but let’s not pretend he’s the difference between victory and defeat.

4:13 PM:  Mattheus just walked Allen Craig and unleashed the loudest F-bomb I’ve heard in a televised game since Greg Maddux retired.

4:07 PM: Ryan Mattheus is in for the Nats now in the top of the eighth. He gets two outs but then allows a Jon Jay single, a Carlos Beltran ground rule double and a Matt Holliday single and now it’s 8-0.

3:53 PM: It looked like multiple broken ankles would happen on the play, but Bryce Harper just grounded to first to a diving Allen Craig, Rosenthal covered first and just beat out Harper for the out.

3:45 PM: Garcia finally gets out of the inning, throwing 30 pitches to do it.  The bottom of the seventh awaits.

3:40 PM: Molina works a full count off Garcia and then takes ball four.  A run scores, it’s 6-0 St. Louis.

3:35 PM: The Cardinals start the seventh inning with back-to-back singles by Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran off of Christian Garcia. Then Matt Holliday grounds out to third, but the runners advance on the long throw.  Davey Johnson decides to walk Allen Craig to load the bases. Yadier Molina comes up with the bases loaded and one out.

3:30 PM: And Rosenthal gets Jayson Werth to foul out. The Nats have left a ton of runners on base today. Just can’t get that key hit.

3:26 PM: It’s Trevor Rosenthal. Here comes some serious heat, folks.

3:25 PM: Suzuki pops up — the 12th flyball out of the game — but then Stephen Lombardozzi lines a single to right. Two on and two out and here comes Mike Matheny to take Carpenter out of the game. We go to the pen. MLB Network cuts away before they say who is coming in. Oh well.

3:21 PM: Chris Carpenter strikes out Espinosa on a called strike three.  Joe West took approximately eight years to make that call. Because it’s the Joe West show. Meanwhile, Mike Matheny comes out to check on Carpenter. Carp says he’s OK. I guess we’ll see in this at bat to Suzuki.

3:18 PM: Ian Desmond leads off the bottom of the sixth with a single past Kozma at short. He’s 3 for 3. Chris Carpenter is approaching 100 pitches. He has pitched 17 innings all year before today. You have to figure he’s done soon.

3:13 PM: Carpenter strikes out. It’s 5-0 Cards after five and a half. At least Nats fans won’t be hitting rush hour all at once when the game ends.

3:11 PM: Kozma strikes out and the dangerous Chris Carpenter comes to the plate. Two out, runner at third.

3:09 PM: Daniel Descalso flies to right, Yadier Molina tags up and scores, Freese advances to third. 5-0 Cardinals. Pete Kozma to the plate with the infield in.

3:06 PM: Craig Stammen is in for Edwin Jackson to start the sixth. He plunks the first hitter he faces — Yadier Molina — and then gives up a double to David Freese.  Molina had to stop at third because it was a high, high hit that just glanced off the wall. Werth almost caught it. Two runners in scoring position, no one out. This could break open big here now.  Nats pitching coach Steve McCatty making a slooooow walk to the mound to allow time for the pen to get going.

2:59 PM:  And Morse pops up to right, leaving the bases loaded. A real missed chance there. Cards lead 4-0.

2:58 PM: Jim Kaat, in describing that walk: “it won’t show up in the box score, but …”  Actually, Jim, yes, walks do show up in the box score.

2:57 PM: With runners on the corners, Carpenter gets Adam LaRoche to a full count and then … walks him.  Bases loaded and the tying run to the plate. It’s Michael Morse.

2:53 PM: The Nats have a little something cooking now. Jayson Werth was at first and took third on a two-out single by Ryan Zimmerman.

2:51 PM: Carpenter retires Bryce Harper with a popup for the second out of the fifth. Costas says it’s nine popups or flyballs for Carpenter so far. Nats just getting under everything.

2:42 PM: After the sacrifice, Beltran grounds out to third, and Carpenter can’t advance. Edwin Jackson then strikes out Allen Craig. Gee, if only the Cardinals had one more out.  I’m not really rooting for either team here, but I sorta want bad things to happen to Mike Matheny now for bunting with his leadoff hitter after the pitcher hits a double.

2:37 PM: And Mike Matheny has Jon Jay bunting. Carpenter gets to third so I guess it worked, but with the pitcher nailing Jackson like Carpenter did, why doesn’t Matheny five Jackson a free out? When you have a boxer on the ropes, you don’t start clinching. You smack him in the head.

2:35 PM: Chris Carpenter nails a leadoff double off Edwin Jackson. It was freakin’ cranked and almost went out. Carpenter is 2 for 2 against Jackson and is now 4 for 7 against him in his career.

2:32 PM: Meanwhile, in game action, Ian Desmond doubled, but he was stranded at second. Chris Carpenter is shutting out the Nats on four hits through four.

2:29 PM: When the Nats were stuck with the 1PM start, fans complained that MLB was not respecting the history of the moment.  Glad to see the Nats themselves are properly reverent:

2:27 PM: Why hasn’t the government cracked down on Axe Body Spray for false advertising? I’ve used their products before and not once — once! — was the opportunity to participate in a foursome with three towel-clad beauties presented to me.

2:24 PM: Edwin Jackson strikes out two in the fourth. Guess he can’t mulligan the first two innings, but it’s good to see him snap out of it.

2:22 PM:  Costas just dropped a factoid Nats fans might not like: since the advent of the wild card, the team with the best record in baseball has only won three of 17 World Series.

2:15 PM: End of the third, still 4-0. Looks like everyone has settled down now.

2:13 PM: Not gonna say the Nats fans are totally out of it right now. Bryce Harper just flied out to left and, as Matt Holliday was camped out under it, the crowd was shouting “Nooonaann!” or something like it.

2:09 PM: Sometimes I say that I don’t think commercials work. Then the DQ chicken strip basket ad comes on and I’m all hungry for DQ chicken strip baskets. Hurm.

2:07 PM: Jackson strikes out Allen Craig and then induces a Yadier Molina double play. Jackson lives to give up solid hits in another inning.

2:01 PM: Matt Holliday hits a solid single to lead off the third. Jackson has nada.

1:58 PM: Meanwhile, the second inning ends with the Nats doing no damage. It’s still 4-0.

1:57 PM: I thought Bryce Harper looked weird earlier but I couldn’t figure out why. Here’s why: red contact lenses. Holy crap that’s disturbing.

1:54 PM: Jim Kaat notes that Joyce is “no stranger to controversial calls.” You don’t say.  Now MLB showing replays of the Armando Galarraga play. Oy.

1:53 PM: After a leadoff single, Danny Espinosa tries to bunt his way on, but was called out by first base umpire Jim Joyce. On replay, Espinosa was safe. Imagine Jim Joyce getting a call at first base wrong.

1:51 PM:  You guys think I’m a troll? Ha!

1:46 PM: Jon Jay hits into a double play. Jackson needed that like nobody’s business. Then Beltran grounds out. Inning over. But, dudes, 4-0 Cardinals.

1:43: PM: Next pitch, Chris Carpenter of all people hits a single to right field.  We officially have Bad Edwin Jackson in the house. I wonder what Stephen Strasburg thinks about all of this.

1:42 PM: Pete Kozma hits a three run homer! It’s 4-0 Cards. And Nats Park deflates, almost immediately.

1: 41 PM: After the double, Jackson goes 3-2 to Descalso who then deposits the payoff pitch into left for a single. Runners on first and second, no one out.

1:38 PM: David Freese leads off the second with a double. Edwin Jackson floated it over the plate despite Kurt Suzuki wanting it outside. If his command is off, he can be beaten around like nobody’s business.

1:33 PM: Carpenter strikes out Morse to end the inning. Carpenter threw a lot of pitches that inning. He tends to settle down as games go on. The Nats missed a chance.

1:31 PM: Carpenter goes full count to LaRoche and he grounds to second. If it was any other runner there would have been no chance at all for a double play. LaRoche was safe at first, but because he’s slow as molasses out there, it was close. Runners on the corners, two out and Michael Morse at the plate.

1:26 PM: One out Werth on first, Ryan Zimmerman hits a slow grounder to third which David Freese muffed. Runners on first and second now and Adam LaRoche at the plate. It was too slow a ball for a double play, methinks, but there should be two out now.

1:25 PM: Bryce Harper nailed a ball to right which sounded like a homer off the bat but fell short for an out. The crowd almost exploded. When I was at Nats Park in August I noticed that, like a lot of places with relatively new fan bases, Nats fans tend to think every pop up is a potential homer.  The phenomenon is enhanced, I imagine, by all the playoff Nattitude flowing through the place.

1:23 PM: Costas notes that Davey Johnson is “a forward thinking guy.” Which is totally true and always has been. One thing I’ve hated to see this year is the lazy idea that Johnson is somehow some crusty old school guy simply because he’s old.  Nothing is further from the truth.

1:21 PM: Jayson Werth leads off the bottom of the first with a single to center. The crowd goes nuts. They’re really amped in Washington, you can tell. Probably all thrilled that their bosses gave them the day off.

1:20 PM: As I watch the 115th Captain Morgan commercial of the postseason, I will note that Michael Morse was impossibly slow getting to that double to left field. The ball stuck under the pad on the wall, and Morse was expecting a bounce. If he’s more spry about it, Holliday may not score.

1:15 PM: Matt Holliday singled and then Allen Craig doubled into the left field corner. Holliday scores. 1-0 Cardinals. Then Molina ground out, and the Nats are out of the top of the first.

1:13 PM: Second out of the first inning is a popup to Danny Espinosa at second. He fought the sun. It looks kinda brutal out there. Keep it in mind for later.

1:10 PM:  Joe West is the home plate umpire. Not all umpires get to ump in the postseason. It’s an honor and a reward for what MLB thinks is good work. Think about that. Joe West.

1:08 PM: I know we’re supposed to hate everything on the Internet, but I’m not gonna lie, I like the Bronson Arroyo/Aroldis Chapman Red Hooded Sweatshirt commercial. Laugh every time. I don’t care what you think of me.

1:06 PM: In case you missed it earlier, here are the lineups:

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS            WASHINGTON NATIONALS
1. Jon Jay, CF                 1. Jayson Werth, RF
2. Carlos Beltran, RF          2. Bryce Harper, CF
3. Matt Holliday, LF           3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Allen Craig, 1B             4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Yadier Molina, C            5. Michael Morse, LF
6. David Freese, 3B            6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Daniel Descalso, 2B         7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
8. Pete Kozma, SS              8. Kurt Suzuki, C
9. Chris Carpenter, RHP        9. Edwin Jackson, RHP

1:00 PM: I forgot that we get Bob Costas for this broadcast. He’s so big now — hosts the Olympics and everything else — that it’s kind of jarring to hear him in a regular old baseball game, even a playoff game. I’ll say though — and I’m not being an NBC homer here, I’ve always thought it — that Costas was the best baseball play-by-play guy outside of the Valhalla in which Scully, Harwell and the like reside.

12:57 PM: Frank Robinson is about to throw out the first pitch. He’s accompanied by several members of the military. For there is no one short of that as badass as he is. Gotta love Frank.  Oh, and he threw a strike on the fly.

12:31 PM: Since Major League Baseball was so cruel and unethical to schedule the Nats first-ever home playoff game at 1PM, and since they put it on MLB Network, I realize that a lot of you guys can’t really see it.  In light of that, we’re doing you a solid and live-blogging it.

Seeing how much hell we’ve given the Nats this week, we promise to be equal opportunity trollers for this one.  I’ll admit it will be harder to troll the Cardinals without Tony La Russa around, but I’m sure we’ll think of something.  Suggestions in the comments, of course.

Be sure to hang out here once the game gets underway at 1:07PM Eastern. And that’s the case even if you think I’m gonna be mean to your team.  It beats workin’, right?

Darvish wins 1st start since 2014 as Rangers top Pirates 5-2

160528 darvish
Getty Images
Leave a comment

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Yu Darvish struck out seven in five strong innings in his first start in the majors in almost 22 months, and the Texas Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Saturday night.

The Japanese right-hander allowed three singles with a walk in his return from last year’s Tommy John surgery, ending Pittsburgh’s five-game winning streak.

Adrian Beltre had a two-run homer in the first inning off Juan Nicasio (3-3) to become the fourth third baseman with at least 1,500 RBIs, finishing with 1,501.

Mitch Moreland snapped a 1-for-27 skid with a solo home run in the fourth.

Four Texas relievers allowed four hits and a run with four strikeouts in four innings.

The “Yuuu” calls from a sellout crowd started early for Darvish, who last pitched in the big leagues on Aug. 9, 2014. He missed the rest of that season with right elbow inflammation, and ended up needing ligament reconstruction surgery after his only spring training appearance last year.

Darvish (1-0) had a 0.90 ERA in five rehab starts this month, culminating with an 87-pitch outing. He threw 81 against the Pirates, hitting 98 mph with his fastball in the first inning and displaying his usual array of breaking pitches, some as slow as 70 mph.

John Jaso had a leadoff single on Darvish’s second pitch before Andrew McCutchen struck out. The Pirates didn’t get another hit until Francisco Cervelli‘s sinking liner in front of rookie right fielder Nomar Mazara in the fifth.

No. 9 hitter Cole Figueroa ended Darvish’s shutout bid by pulling a hanging slider into right-center field for a single that scored Cervelli from second. Darvish then struck out Jaso for the second time to finish his outing.

Beltre’s homer just cleared the wall in center field after Prince Fielder‘s RBI groundout to score leadoff hitter Jurickson Profar, who had two hits filling in for suspended second baseman Rougned Odor. It was the second game of Odor’s seven-game ban.

SHORT HOPS

Joey Gallo, who had just one at-bat in his five-day stint, was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to make room on the roster for Darvish. … Pirates lefty reliever Tony Watson came off the paternity list and pitched a perfect eighth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: Manager Clint Hurdle planned to give 2B Josh Harrison the night off after he came out of the series opener early. He’s been battling an illness that kept him out of the lineup Thursday as well.

Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos is expected to start a rehab assignment Tuesday with Double-A Frisco. He’s been out since April 10 with a broken right forearm and could be activated as soon as he is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 9.

UP NEXT

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-3, 4.30) has won his last four starts against the Rangers and is 5-1 with a save and a 2.89 ERA in nine career games against them, most of those with Minnesota. His last appearance against Texas was Sept. 10, 2013.

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 3.13) makes his team-high 11th start and has gone 2-2 with a 2.23 ERA in his past six starts. He threw six shutout innings in a 4-1 win over the Angels in his last start

Utley answers with slam, solo HR as Dodgers rout Mets 9-1

160528 utley
Getty Images
3 Comments

NEW YORK (AP) After the New York Mets missed, Chase Utley connected twice.

Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing New York 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch – which certainly appeared to be his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year’s playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers’ bench to keep teammates calm – and later responded by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

“I think a loud, energizing environment gets the best out of you. I think it’s fun,” said Utley, who has 19 RBIs this season, nine in the first two games of this series. “It kind of gets the adrenaline going a little bit, makes you kind of dig down deeper.”

Asked if he thought Syndergaard delivered a purpose pitch, Utley said: “Possibly, but I understand it.”

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets’ 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Howie Kendrick and Corey Seager also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that hit him on the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings. The right-hander yielded two hits, both singles in the first, and stopped his three-game losing streak.

“Pretty impressive. You wouldn’t see too many other pitches staying in the game at that point,” Utley said.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets – and their fans – were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night; Utley played all four games without incident May 9-12 when the teams split a series in Los Angeles.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

“The ruling was that he intentionally threw at the batter,” crew chief Tom Hallion told a pool reporter. “We can either warn or eject. And with what happened in that situation, we felt the ejection was warranted.”

Hallion said no warnings were issued before the series.

“We take each game individually,” he said when asked if last year’s playoff series played a role in the ejection. “We have to make a snap decision. We can’t think about, OK, well this guy did this or he did that in Game 6 of whatever. We don’t have enough time to think that way. We make a decision on what happens in the game.”

Collins said he had never before seen a pitcher get ejected without a warning.

“My argument was, nobody got hit,” Collins said. “There was a time when, in this game, where you had a shot and nothing happened, the ball went to the backstop. So that was kind of my argument.”

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

“It was just a pitch that got away from me. That’s all I got,” Syndergaard said. “I can understand why he did what he did. I still think a warning would have been better.”

Collins acknowledged he’s a little concerned Syndergaard might get suspended.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett’s first pitch of the sixth for a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, making it 6-0 with his 38th homer against the Mets.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

“We came together as a group,” Utley said. “We battled, and it was a good win.”

WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts vs. the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May – including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Mets’ Syndergaard ejected after throwing behind Utley

160528 noah
Getty Images
42 Comments

NEW YORK — In a scene that has seemed inevitable since October, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been ejected for throwing a 99 mph fastball behind Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since his late takeout slide in last year’s playoffs broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.

New York was incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules on slides at bases this season. But the Mets had not attempted to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman’s back by a considerable margin.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting irate Mets manager Terry Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected.

Indians’ Brantley unsure of return from shoulder injury

160528 brantley
Getty Images
Leave a comment

CLEVELAND — Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has no timetable for his return from the shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the second time this season.

Brantley spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 14. He began the season on the DL following surgery for a torn right labrum in November. Brantley hit .231 with seven RBIs in 11 games before being shut down again.

“I wasn’t bouncing back quick enough to keep playing back-to-back games, which is very important,” he said. “I want to be healthy each and every day and I have to play at a high level. This is the major leagues. You have to be at the best of your ability and the highest health-wise you can be.”

Brantley, who received an anti-inflammatory shot in the shoulder two weeks ago, doesn’t think he returned from the surgery too soon.

“I was ready,” he said. “We talked about it. We had a great process laid out. Everything went smoothly. It was just a bump in the road.”

Brantley has been hitting off a tee but isn’t sure when he will begin taking swings in the batting cage. He is playing catch since he throws left-handed but wants to be cautious about resuming a hitting program.

“Surgery is nothing to play with,” he said. “You have to be smart and understand your body.”

Brantley visited Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed the surgery, in Wilmington, Delaware after he returned to the DL. An MRI showed no changes in the shoulder.

“He said everything checks out good, just make sure to take your time and we’ll see what happens from there,” Brantley said.

Brantley finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2014 when he hit .327 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs. He batted .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs last season.