Pirates grab early lead over Cardinals in NLDS Game 3

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Francisco Liriano’s success against the Cardinals has been well-chronicled. And he has continued that pattern of pitching dominance in the early stages of this NLDS Game 3 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

With the help of a wide Jerry Layne strike zone, the left-handed Liriano carved his way through St. Louis’ batting order in the opening frame. Matt Carpenter struck out to open the game and Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday were then retired on groundball outs.

Cardinals starter Joe Kelly also was the beneficiary of some odd called strikes in the bottom of the first inning but he issued a two-out walk to Andrew McCutchen anyway and then deflected a comebacker from Justin Morneau that Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma threw beyond the reach of Matt Adams at first base. With runners on third and second, Marlon Byrd smacked a two-run single into left field.

It’s a 2-0 lead for the host Pirates after one and the crowd is rocking in the Steel City.

Watch: George Springer robs Todd Frazier with an incredible catch at the wall

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Perhaps there are a few who still miss the slope of Tal’s Hill rising from center field, but George Springer isn’t one of them. He lassoed a 403-foot fly ball from Todd Frazier in the seventh inning of Game 6, reaching nearly to the top of the wall to prevent the Yankees from gaining on the Astros’ 3-0 lead.

According to Statcast, a fly ball with an exit velocity of 103.6 MPH and a launch angle of 29 degrees lands for a home run 72% of the time. That wasn’t going to fly with the Astros, who were facing runners on first and second with one out and saw Justin Verlander‘s pitch count rapidly approaching 100.

It wasn’t long before the Yankees tried for another home run, however, and this one sailed far above the heads of all of the Astros’ outfielders. Aaron Judge lofted a 425-foot shot to left field in the eighth inning, destroying a first-pitch fastball from Brad Peacock and finally getting New York on the board.

The Yankees currently trail the Astros 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.