Kirk Nieuwenhuis suffers knee injury

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Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, battling for a job in spring training, suffered a knee injury this afternoon during a game against the Miami Marlins. In the seventh inning, Nieuwenhuis attempted to steal second and came up limping. The 25-year-old says he simply bruised his left knee badly, but he had to be transported via cart from the dugout to the clubhouse.

More, from Adam Rubin:

“It was on the slide,” Nieuwenhuis said. “I just hit it on something. Hopefully it’s just a bad bruise. When I went to go take my lead, it just kind of buckled a little bit, but I think the ligaments are OK. I haven’t seen a doctor yet, but I think I just have got a bad bruise. … I don’t think it’s that bad.”

The Mets entered camp with a surfeit of questions surrounding their outfield and now must add one more. Jordany Valdespin, already helping himself with a .412 average in 17 spring at-bats, seems the likely successor in the absence of Nieuwenhuis. Valdespin, though, has been used exclusively at second base so far.

Nieuwenhuis impressed early in 2012, posting a .325 average in April. The struggles began to mount and his average plummeted, hitting .263 in May, .238 in June, and .105 in July. The Mets then optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. After only five games, he had to be shelved with a nagging plantar fasciitis injury. The Mets certainly hope the lack of concern by Nieuwenhuis is more accurate than wishful thinking.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.