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.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.

Report: Rangers agree to six-year extension with Rougned Odor

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The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.

It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.

According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.