The Nationals add some insurance, lead the Cardinals 7-5 going into ninth inning

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The Nationals just added some valuable insurance in the bottom of the eighth inning, as Kurt Suzuki smacked an RBI single up the middle to push the score to 7-5 going into the top of the ninth.

Jason Motte allowed back-to-back singles to Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse to begin the inning, but bounced back to get Ian Desmond to ground into a force and Danny Espinosa on a pop-up. However, Suzuki delivered the two-out single for the Nationals’ first run since the third inning. Suzuki is 3-for-4 on the night.

Drew Storen is coming out for the top of the ninth as the Nationals are just three outs away from advancing to the NLCS to face the Giants. Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig are due up for the Cardinals.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.