The improbable continues in NLCS

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Game 1: Zack Greinke versus Joe Kelly.

Cardinals win.

Game 2: Clayton Kershaw versus Michael Wacha.

Cardinals win.

Game 3: Adam Wainwright versus Hyun_jin Ryu.

Dodgers win.

The Cardinals led the National League in runs scored both for the season as a whole and in the second half. The Dodgers started slowly, but they were third in the league in runs and second in OPS after the All-Star break. 31 innings into the NLCS, the teams have combined to scored nine runs.

And if that wasn’t unlikely enough, one of those three runs that scored tonight was charged to Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist. It’s the first earned run he’s allowed in three months. It’s just the second he’s surrendered in 42 innings as a major leaguer.

Finally, a fan dressed as a bear was thrown out of the ballpark tonight.

Tonight’s game could have seen the Cardinals virtually clinch the series with their ace on the mound. Wainwright allowed two runs over 16 innings in his two NLDS starts against the Pirates. Ryu gave up four rins in three innings in his NLDS loss to the Braves.

Yet, Ryu, amid rumors of elbow and back problems, came out throwing his hardest pitches of the season tonight. It’s not even an exaggeration: he hit 95 mph on the gun for the first time as a major leaguer.

Wainwright was fine, but Ryu was better. The lefty pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits. It was just the second time in 32 starts this year that he went without allowing a run.

With the loss tonight, the Cardinals will definitely see Greinke again. They don’t necessarily have to win another Greinke or Kershaw start to advance, but now it’s a series, even if it’s still an incredibly odd one.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.