Before we move along to the next chapter of this running drama, let’s review a timeline of events:
- Jack Clark, a player for the Giants, Cardinals, Red Sox, Padres and Yankees over an 18-year major league career, claims on his CBS Sports 920 radio show in St. Louis that Albert Pujols’ former trainer used to inject the slugger with steroids. Clark says the trainer, Chris Mihlfeld, offered up this info while Mihlfeld and Clark were both on staff with the Dodgers in the late 1990s.
- Mihlfeld denies Clark’s story in a statement to HBT: “I haven’t even talked to Jack Clark in close to 10 years. His statements are simply not true. I have known Albert Pujols since he was 18 years old and he would never use illegal drugs in any way. I would bet my life on it and probably drop dead on the spot if I found out he has. … Albert and myself have been accused of doing something we didn’t do.”
- Pujols threatens legal action against Clark and the CBS Sports 920 ownership, insideSTL Enterprises. Clark and his partner Kevin Slaten are fired from the radio station, which had only been on air a week.
- Clark stands by his claim that Mihlfeld acknowledged injecting Pujols with steroids.
Slaten is now planning to sue insideSTL, writes Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Slaten said he got the termination call from insideSTL president Tim McKernan around midnight.
“I said ‘What?,”’ Slaten said. “He said, ‘We have to do what’s in the best interest of the company.’ I said, ‘You tell me how firing me is in the best interest of the company when you and (WGNU boss Burt Kaufman) said (earlier) that I did nothing wrong.”
Slaten said McKernan told him, “‘I know that, but everybody associated with the show has to go.
“I said, ‘Did you fire the producer? Did you fire yourself, you’re the one who paired us, did you fire yourself?’
There’s plenty more inside-radio stuff in that article. Clark is also upset about the sudden firing:
“I’m still trying to get my knife out of my back from the radio station, the way that was handled,” Clark told the Post-Dispatch. “They did not allow us to go ahead and talk about it, talk to callers. They made us lie and say the phones weren’t working.”
McKernan and insideSTL issued this short written statement on Saturday afternoon: “insideSTL Enterprises, LLC and all related companies would like to make clear that Jack Clark is no longer associated with the company. Mr. Clark was never employed by insideSTL but rather was an independent contractor. Any opinions, views or statements made by him strictly reflect his own personal views and do not reflect the views of insideSTL. insideSTL Enterprises, LLC and any related companies have never asserted and do not assert that Albert Pujols has ever used steroids or any other type of performing enhancing drug.”
The Rangers outlasted the Blue Jays in 14 innings to take the second game of the ALDS on Friday 6-4, moving to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. Second baseman Rougned Odor‘s star shone brightest, as he used his speed to set up the go-ahead run in the top of the 14th.
With LaTroy Hawkins on the mound and the Jays employing an infield shift, Odor slapped a weak ground ball towards Josh Donaldson, positioned where the shortstop would normally play. Donaldson’s momentum took his momentum away from first base, so he had to make an off-balance throw. Odor then moved to second base on Chris Jimenez’s single to right field — narrowly making it back to the second base bag after rounding too far, a play which required replay review. Odor scored the go-ahead run, breaking a 4-4 tie, when Hanser Alberto (Adrian Beltre‘s replacement at third base) lined a single to center field.
Center fielder Delino DeShields had three hits with an RBI and two runs scored in seven at-bats. The RBI padded the Rangers’ lead to 6-4 in the 14th, as he beat out an infield single against Liam Hendriks. Starter Cole Hamels was strong over seven innings, allowing four runs (only two earned) on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts. The Rangers’ bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings of relief, including Ross Ohlendorf‘s 14th inning in which he recorded all three outs on strikeouts.
On the Jays’ side of things, Josh Donaldson hit a home run and helped instigate a benches-clearing argument with Rangers reliever Keone Kela. Donaldson had smoked a Kela offering home run distance was foul, then repeatedly swore at Kela because he felt the right-hander was quick-pitching him, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Jays starter Marcus Stroman was shaky early, coughing up three runs in the first two innings, but was able to settle down. He ultimately allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. The Jays’ bullpen allowed only four base runners on two hits and two walks through the 13th, before Hawkins and Hendriks relented.
The two teams will have an off-day on Saturday as they travel to Texas to continue the ALDS. Game 3 starts on Sunday at 8:00 PM EDT, featuring Marco Estrada starting for the Jays and Martin Perez for the Rangers. The Blue Jays are still in search of their first playoff victory since Joe Carter’s walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.
Here are the Cubs and Cardinals lineups for Game 1 of the NLDS in St. Louis:
CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Starlin Castro
LF Chris Coghlan
SS Addison Russell
C David Ross
SP Jon Lester
Jon Lester’s personal catcher David Ross takes the place of Miguel Montero behind the plate. Kris Bryant shifts back to third base after playing left field in Game 1, with Chris Coghlan coming off the bench to get a start in the outfield against a right-hander. Addison Russell bats seventh, which he did just 10 times during the regular season.
3B Matt Carpenter
1B Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
CF Jason Heyward
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Randal Grichuk
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
SP John Lackey
Mike Matheny’s lineup for Game 1 is an interesting one. Jason Heyward is batting cleanup and playing center field, where he started just eight games all season. Stephen Piscotty plays first base, where he started just nine games. Yadier Molina is behind the plate, toughing his way through a significant thumb injury that’s sidelined him since September 20 and leaves him at much less than 100 percent now. Brandon Moss, Mark Reynolds, and Jon Jay are all on the bench.
Rookie left-hander Steven Matz hasn’t pitched since September 24 because of a back injury, but he’s on the Mets’ playoff roster for the NLDS and looks likely to start Game 4 against the Dodgers.
Matz prepped for a potential start by throwing 80 pitches in a simulated game Thursday and apparently experienced no issues. Even setting aside the health question mark Matz has started just six games in the majors, but he’s 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 34/10 K/BB ratio in 35.2 innings.
Matz is one of 11 pitchers on the NLDS roster, along with 14 position players. No big surprises.