Dominican Republic's Santana is congratulated by third base coach Samuel after Santana's fifth inning home run against Puerto Rico during a 2013 World Baseball Classic game in Miami

Dominican Republic tops Puerto Rico to secure top seed in Pool Two of WBC

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The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have already clinched spots for the World Baseball Classic semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco, but the two teams squared off this afternoon to determine the top seed out of the Miami group.

Pitching was strong on both sides, but the Dominican Republic topped Puerto Rico by the score of 2-0 to stay undefeated in the tournament. Carlos Santana broke a scoreless tie with a long solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Francisco Pena, the son of Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena, provided some valuable insurance with an opposite-field RBI single in the eighth.

Wandy Rodriguez came up huge for the Dominicans by allowing just two hits over six innings of shutout ball. Jose Veras, Santiago Casilla and Fernando Rodney followed with three scoreless frames in relief to lock down the victory. Robinson Cano was selected as the MVP of the Miami bracket while the Dominican Republic is now 6-0 in the tournament.

As the top seed in Group Two, the Dominican Republic squad will get tomorrow off before facing the Netherlands on Monday night at 9 p.m. ET. They’ll be looking for revenge, as the Netherlands ousted them from the 2009 World Baseball Classic. As for Puerto Rico, they’ll have the tougher task of hopping on a plane to face a well-rested Japan team tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET. The winners will face off Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.