Cardinals will try to finish off the Giants in five

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Is everyone all geared up to see the NL’s fifth best team and the AL’s seventh best team square off in the World Series?

Of course, the Cardinals and Tigers have genuinely looked like baseball’s best teams during October. And if some would prefer neither had reached the postseason because they weren’t all that good in the regular season, well, that’s just too bad.

One win away from reaching the World Series, the Cardinals will send Lance Lynn to the mound in Friday’s Game 5 in St. Louis. The 18-game winner will be opposed by 15-game winner Barry Zito.

The Cardinals should be favored in the game, but to win, they’ll need to overcome the Giants’ good luck charm. The team has won each of Zito’s last 12 starts, including Game 4 against the Reds in the NLDS when Zito lasted just 2 2/3 innings and gave up two runs. Zito himself hasn’t been all that much better than usual with a 4.04 ERA during the streak. He was 8-8 with a 4.27 ERA before it began.

Coincidentally, the Zito streak actually started in St. Louis, with the Giants winning 4-2 on Aug. 7. It was Zito’s only start versus St. Louis this year, and he allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. Lynn took the loss for the Cardinals that game.

Lynn also had a bit of a rough go of it in his Game 1 start in the NLCS, surrendering four runs in 3 2/3 innings. However, the Cardinals went on to win the game 6-4.

Even if the pitching matchup isn’t necessarily a big point in the Cardinals’ favor for Game 5, they’d seem to have the advantage on offense and in the pen. They used only Fernando Salas in relief in the Game 4 rout, meaning that Friday’s game will likely feature an ample helping of Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Motte if it stays close.

Also, the Cardinals are aiming to get Carlos Beltran back into a lineup that’s been the most productive of any in either league this month. Beltran left Wednesday’s game with a knee strain and didn’t play Thursday. Matt Carpenter has done a terrific job filling in, homering off the bench in Game 3 and then reaching three times and scoring twice in Game 4.

Report: Orioles interested in Jarrod Dyson

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Free agent outfielder Jarrod Dyson is still a possible target for the Orioles, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The outfielder has received limited interest after entering free agency this season, due in part to the season-ending sports hernia surgery he underwent last September. To that end, Kubatko says, the team has verified his medicals and no red flags appear to have surfaced so far.

Dyson, 33, managed a modest .251/.324/.350 batting line, five home runs and 28 stolen bases in 390 plate appearances for the Mariners last year. He didn’t overwhelm the competition at the plate, particularly during an injury-riddled second half, but still showed himself capable of maintaining the speed and defense that have become his calling cards over the last five seasons. Kubatko notes that while Dyson doesn’t appear to be seeking an everyday role again in 2018, he could be a “useful player” for Baltimore if he remains healthy.

The Giants have also tossed their hats in the ring for Dyson this winter, going so far as to call him their primary non-Lorenzo Cain candidate. Nothing is close to being finalized, however, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that both Dyson and the Giants are still talking to other interested parties. The Orioles, too, are exploring alternatives to Dyson, and are rumored to be in talks with an anonymous right fielder who could conceivably platoon in right field and help provide depth behind Adam Jones in center.