National League Wild Card Game: Reds-Pirates lineups

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Here are the lineups for tonight’s National League Wild Card Game between the Reds and Pirates, in Pittsburgh:

Reds:
CF Shin-Soo Choo
LF Ryan Ludwick
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
3B Todd Frazier
SS Zack Cozart
C Ryan Hanigan
SP Johnny Cueto

Ryan Ludwick only drew three starts as the No. 2 hitter all season, but they were in the final three games of the year and with left-hander Francisco Liriano on the mound manager Dusty Baker no doubt wanted a right-handed bat with some pop between lefties Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto. Zack Cozart, who was the primary No. 2 hitter for the Reds this season despite a ghastly .284 on-base percentage, is now hitting seventh.

Pirates:
LF Starling Marte
2B Neil Walker
CF Andrew McCutchen
1B Justin Morneau
RF Marlon Byrd
3B Pedro Alvarez
C Russell Martin
SS Clint Barmes
SP Francisco Liriano

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is going with his standard late-season lineup, which includes Starling Marte starting in left field and leading off and trade pickups Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd in the 4-5 spots. Overall this season the Pirates’ most-used cleanup hitters were Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez, but Jones is on the bench in favor of Morneau and Alvarez is down in the sixth spot.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.