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!

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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?

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.

Brewers GM: Acquiring Jacob Nottingham doesn’t change Jonathan Lucroy’s status

Jonathan Lucroy
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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The Brewers acquired prospects Jake Nottingham and Bubba Derby from the Athletics on Friday in exchange for slugging outfielder Khris Davis. The hope is that Nottingham will develop into the Brewers’ catcher of the future, so you could say that the club is planning for life after Jonathan Lucroy. However, Brewers general manager David Stearns said today that the trade doesn’t change Lucroy’s immediate status.

The Brewers are in rebuild-mode and Lucroy is an excellent trade chip if healthy, as his contract includes a $5.25 million club option for 2017. It’s likely just a matter of time before he’s shipped elsewhere, but yesterday’s trade shouldn’t change the timeline for a potential deal. Nottingham doesn’t turn 21 until April and has yet to play in Double-A, so he’s still a ways off from the majors. The Brewers can afford to wait on the right offer for Lucroy, whether it’s in spring training or at the trade deadline or perhaps later.

Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Nottingham batted .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs over 109 games last season between Class A and High-A. He was traded from the Astros to the Athletics as part of the Scott Kazmir deal last July. It’s worth noting that Stearns was the assistant GM for Houston when Nottingham was drafted in the sixth round back in 2013, so he’s clearly a fan.

Joe Panik says he’s “100 percent” recovered from back injury

San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik follows through on a single off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg in the eighth inning of Game 1 of a baseball doubleheader Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Denver. The Giants won 10-8. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Giants second baseman Joe Panik missed nearly all of August and September last season due to a nagging back injury, but he told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com on Friday that he’s feeling “100 percent.”

Panik, who earned his first All-Star selection last season, originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to what was described as lower back inflammation. He made his return in September, but appeared in just three games before being shut down. The good news is that he was cleared by doctors in mid-December and considers himself “back to normal.”

“It was right around the time of all the signings,” he said, smiling. “I was able to fly under the radar. I got tested and everything had healed up. I got cleared and was able to have my full offseason workouts. I’m good to go. I’m happy to be feeling good and going back out on the field to show that I’m healthy. My swing feels strong.”

Panik altered his offseason workout routine and plans to spend less time in his spikes in the early part of spring training. The hope is that these changes will prevent future issues.

After a strong showing as a rookie in 2014, the 25-year-old Panik proved to be one of the best second baseman in the majors last season by batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over 100 games while playing solid defense.

Baseball America names Corey Seager as baseball’s top prospect

Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager follows through a single that scored Austin Barnes, in front of Colorado Rockies' Wilin Rosario during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Baseball America unveiled their top 100 prospect list Friday night during a special on MLB Network. It should come as no surprise that Dodgers infielder Corey Seager came in at No. 1.

This makes Seager the consensus top prospect in the game. He was also ranked first by MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was ranked second on all four lists.

Baseball America has the most aggressive ranking of Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, who checked in at No. 3. He was followed by pitching prospects Lucas Giolito from the Nationals and Julio Urias from the Dodgers to round out the top five.

You can see Baseball America’s full top 100 list here.