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Cardinals cruise to Game 1 victory over Pirates in NLDS

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Adam Wainwright lived up to his billing as an ace while A.J. Burnett imploded as the Cardinals cruised to a 9-1 blowout win over the Pirates in Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday at Busch Stadium.

This game got out of hand rather quickly, as Burnett gave up seven runs in the third inning without recording an out before getting the hook. The big blow was a three-run homer from Carlos Beltran which traveled an estimated 443 feet. Burnett walked four batters and threw just 38 out of 72 pitches for strikes during the brief outing. Perhaps there was something to his previous struggles in the postseason and Busch Stadium after all.

Wainwright was brilliant, holding the Pirates to just three hits while striking out nine batters and walking none. He retired the first 11 batters he faced and had Pittsburgh’s hitters guessing with his curveball. His only mistake was a solo homer by Pedro Alvarez in the fifth inning. Wainwright probably could have thrown another inning or two if needed, but there was little reason to push it with such a big lead.

The Pirates were dominated in all phases of the game today, but they’ll have a chance to change the conversation quickly with Game 2 scheduled for 1 p.m. ET tomorrow. Pittsburgh will send rookie Gerrit Cole to the hill while Lance Lynn will start for St. Louis.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.