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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.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.