Carlos Beltran, A.J. Burnett AP

Cardinals score seven runs in third inning to chase A.J. Burnett early in Game 1 of NLDS

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The Cardinals have stormed out to an early lead over the Pirates in Game 1 of the NLDS.

Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett completely melted down in the bottom of the third inning, giving up seven runs before being pulled from the ballgame. He failed to record an out in the nightmare frame.

The ugly inning started with a leadoff walk to Adam Wainwright and a single from Matt Carpenter, which set up a long three-run homer from Carlos Beltran which landed in the second deck inside the right field foul pole. Burnett then gave up a double to Matt Holliday and hit Matt Adams with a pitch before walking Yadier Molina and Jon Jay to force in a run. David Freese followed with a single down the right field line to score two more runs while a third run scored on a throwing error by Marlon Byrd. That was enough for Clint Hurdle to finally bring the hook.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the seven runs scored by the Cardinals are an NLDS record for an inning. It might be time to start thinking ahead to Game 2.

As for Beltran, his postseason excellence continues. He now has 15 home runs in 153 plate appearances in the postseason, tying him with Babe Ruth for eighth all-time. As our own Matthew Pouliot points out, his 1.275 OPS is the best all-time among players with at least 100 plate appearances. You can watch the video of his third-inning blast below:

Meanwhile, Wainwright has been brilliant on the mound for the Cardinals. He has sat down all nine batters he has faced while striking out three. The Cardinals lead it 7-0 as we move to the top of the fourth inning.

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.