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And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 9, Cardinals 2: In what is the most meaningful baseball played in Pittsburgh in over 20 years, Francisco Liriano was dominant and Pedro Alvarez hit his NL-leading 27th homer and the Pirates pull to within a half game of first place.

Rays 2, Red Sox 1: Gotta love that a blown call impacted a game in which a division lead changed hands. That’s just fantastic. Hey Bud: now that you’re showing how tough and powerful you’re getting with a union that once gave you fits with the drug stuff, how about doing the same with the umpires and unilaterally instituting replay?

Braves 9, Rockies 8: Four wins in a row for the Braves. The winning pitcher: Scott Downs, who didn’t show up to the park until ten minutes before first pitch and literally had to introduce himself to his infielders when he came into the game in the 10th. Lost in this win: Brandon Beachy’s return: pretty disastrous (3.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER).

Rangers 4, Angels 3: Ninth inning home runs from catchers is the new inefficiency. First A.J. Pierzynski homered then Geovany Soto, giving the Rangers a come-from-behind win.

Mets 6, Marlins 5: Mets blew a 3-0 lead and found themselves down 5-3 but Ike Davis hit an RBI double in a three-run seventh.

Indians 3, White Sox 2: The fifth straight win for the Indians, this on a Jason Giambi walkoff homer. He’s the oldest player to ever hit a walkoff player. The previous record holder was Hank Aaron, who did it in 1976. Except then they didn’t call them walkoffs. Indeed, I believe someone woulda looked at you funny if you called it a walkoff in 1976.

Brewers 5, Cubs 0: Scoreless until the ninth then the Brewers put up a five-spot. If you squinted you could see Carlos Marmol out there on the mound for Chicago. Then you realize it wasn’t him and you shed a single tear.

Athletics 9, Blue Jays 4: Yoenis Cespedes continues to climb out of his post All-Star Game funk. He homered and hit an RBI triple as the A’s scored four in the first and then cruised.

Padres 2, Reds 1: Chris Denorfia sat fastball on Aroldis Chapman and then drove a two-run homer over the wall in the bottom of the ninth. In other news, it feels like the Reds have been on this west coast swing for a month.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the 2016 World Series champion Cubs, who are the Cardinals biggest rival. Earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay, so I guess this makes ’em even.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.