NLCS - Los Angeles Dodgers v St Louis Cardinals

Cardinals put Game 6 out of reach with a fifth-inning outburst

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After going up 4-0 in the third inning, the Cardinals continued to tack on runs in the fifth. In doing so, they chased Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw from the game after 98 pitches. The lefty did not record an out in the fifth.

The inning started off with Yadier Molina singling to right field. Yasiel Puig had trouble getting the ball, so Molina took the opportunity to advance to second base. David Freese followed up with a seeing-eye single to left field. The slow-footed Molina took a turn at third base, but ultimately held up. Matt Adams let Molina score when he dumped a single to left field.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly took the slow walk out to the pitcher’s mound with the disappointing task of taking his staff out of an elimination playoff game with no outs in the fifth. Ronald Belisario was summoned from the bullpen to attempt to put out the fire. Belisario got Shane Robinson to hit a grounder to shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Freese, who was running on contact, instigated a run down, allowing both runners to advance — Adams to second, and Robinson to second. Belisario then walked Kozma intentionally to bring up pitcher Michael Wacha. Wacha grounded out, scoring Adams and moving Robinson to third and Kozma to second.

Mattingly had to come out to the mound again, this time to bring in lefty J.P. Howell for Belisario. Matt Carpenter greeted Howell with a a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 7-0. After going ahead 1-2 to Carlos Beltran, Howell threw a slider in the dirt that catcher A.J. Ellis couldn’t handle. Kozma scored, making it 8-0, and Wacha moved to third base. On the next pitch, Beltran hit a grounder in the hole between third base and shortstop, making it 9-0. The inning came to a close when Matt Holliday flied out to center.

The Cardinals appear to be well on their way to clinching a World Series appearance. Wacha thus far has held the Dodgers scoreless over five innings, continuing his run of post-season dominance.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.