It’s still only one loss for Cardinals

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To put it simply, the Cardinals were never in Game 1 of the World Series. Terribly sloppy defensively, they were down 3-0 after one and 5-0 after two. They mounted little rallies in the fourth and fifth innings, but nothing came of them. At no point did Boston’s lead seem surmountable.

None of that matters now, though. Losing the opener 8-1 with three errors and a solitary extra-base hit in the ninth? It’s no different from losing 5-4.

Here’s what the Cardinals have working for them:

Game 2: Michael Wacha

Games 3-5: Home-field advantage. Either David Ortiz or Mike Napoli — perhaps the Red Sox’s two best hitters right now — is going to be limited to one at-bat off the bench.

Game 6: Michael Wacha

Game 7: Well, anything can happen in Game 7.

So, yeah, the Cardinals’ chances of winning the World Series very much hinge on Wacha. But who better to put them on? The rookie who has allowed one run and nine hits over 29 2/3 innings in his last four starts. He has the freshest arm of any starter in the series, and the Red Sox have never seen him before, which should work to his advantage. Maybe he’ll be nervous, but nothing that happened in the NLCS suggests it. If the Cardinals can win Game 2, they’ll have gotten all they should have hoped for in Boston.

Rangers will not exercise Mike Napoli’s 2018 option

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The Rangers have informed 1B/DH Mike Napoli the club will not exercise his 2018 option, worth $11 million, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Instead, the Rangers will pay Napoli $2.5 million to buy him out of his contract, making him a free agent.

Napoli, 35, hit a disappointing .193/.285/.428 with 29 home runs and 66 RBI in 485 plate appearances this past season. Given his age and declining production, it’s not shocking that the Rangers want to look elsewhere.

Napoli turns 36 at the end of the month. Given his age and worsening peripheral stats, he will likely have to settle for a one-year deal this offseason.