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Red Sox extend lead over Rays in Game 3 of ALDS

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Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury continues to be a pain in the neck for the Rays.

After Clay Buchholz worked out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the Rays off the board in the bottom of the fourth inning, Ellsbury led off the top of the fifth with a liner which deflected off James Loney’s glove and bounced outside the first base bag. Ellsbury legged out a double on the play and eventually moved over to third base on an infield single from Shane Victorino. Yunel Escobar actually made an excellent play on the grounder and tried to throw out Ellsbury, who chose not to slide into third base. He was ruled safe, though replays showed that he may have been out. It ended up being a critical play in the inning, Ellsbury scored on a wild pitch after Alex Cobb was unable to handle a throw from Jose Molina. The Red Sox tacked on one more run on an opposite-field single from David Ortiz.

Ellsbury, an impending free agent, continues to have a heck of a series. He’s 7-for-12 with two doubles, two RBI, two stolen bases, and six runs scored.

The Red Sox lead this one 3-0 as we head to the bottom of the fifth inning. The Rays are running out of time to keep their season alive.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.