Cardinals take early lead in decisive NLDS Game 5 after a David Freese two-run homer

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Cardinals postseason legend David Freese has struck in this loser-heads-home NLDS Game 5.

What looked like a brewing pitcher’s duel suddenly turned into an early 2-0 lead for host St. Louis when Freese launched a two-run homer to left field with two outs in the bottom of the second inning, setting off a round of fireworks at Busch Stadium. Jon Jay drew a two-out walk in an eight-pitch at-bat off Pirates starter Gerrit Cole to set up the big two-run blast.

Freese — including this year’s results — is a .325/.391/.593 hitter in 35 postseason games.

Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright has held the Pirates to one hit in his first two frames.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.