Cardinals complete stunning comeback against Nationals to advance to NLCS

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After the Nationals took an early 6-0 lead over the Cardinals through three innings, Game 5 had all the makings of a laugher. It was anything but.

The Cardinals chipped away throughout and scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to complete a stunning comeback, topping the Nationals 9-7 for the right to face the Giants in the NLCS.

The Cardinals scored one in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the seventh and one in the eighth before getting to Drew Storen in the ninth. Daniel Descalso, who homered in the eighth, singled off Ian Desmond’s glove to drive home two runs to tie the game before Pete Kozma put the Cardinals ahead with a two-run double into right field. Jason Motte retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the ninth to finish off the shocking victory.

The comeback wasn’t just stunning, it was also historic. This was the biggest comeback ever in an elimination game. The Yankees previously came back from four runs down against the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS while the Pirates came back from four runs down against the Senators in Game 7 of the 1925 World Series. Yes, the Nationals now share some dubious history with the Senators.

The Cardinals will now move on to the National League Championship series, which will begin Sunday night in San Francisco.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.