World Series - St Louis Cardinals v Boston Red Sox - Game Two

Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal own the late innings for Cardinals

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Even as Michael Wacha was through five scoreless, one thing seemed pretty clear: his pitch count up to 90, the sixth would be his final inning.

That sixth inning didn’t go as planned, but the seventh through ninth innings sure did. The Cardinals rallied from 2-1 down beat the Red Sox 4-2 in Game 2, with Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal striking out six in three scoreless innings of relief.

Martinez, who initially signed with the Red Sox out of the Dominican Republic, only to land with the Cardinals after MLB voided the deal, got six outs. After a clean seventh, he got into trouble by giving up a pair of groundball singles in the eighth. However, he was able to get Mike Napoli to pop out to end the rally.

Rosenthal got the bottom of the Boston’s order, which has produced nothing in October, and made quick work of Jonny Gomes, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and pinch-hitter Daniel Nava, striking out all three.

As good as Edward Mujica was for the Cardinals for most of the season, the team probably caught a break when he was injured down the stretch, rendering him ineffective and resulting in Rosenthal going into the closer’s role. It’s possible — perhaps not likely, but possible — that Martinez wouldn’t have even made the postseason roster if not for Mujica’s injury. He was only handed his first late lead with 10 days to go in the regular season. Mujica was far more likely to have a Joaquin Benoit moment against these Red Sox than either of the young gunslingers are. Rosenthal and Martinez have combined to allow five homers in 121 1/3 innings this season.

At least the Red Sox have had a look at both now. They actually got a run off Martinez in Game 1. Rosenthal is nothing if not predictable; it’s nothing but high-90s fastballs and hit them if you can. Few do. The Red Sox will certainly see Martinez again, and probably Rosenthal, too, if the Cardinals can continue taking leads into the ninth. Against the Tigers, the Red Sox’s best hope was to outlast the starters and prey on the pen. Versus these Cardinals, especially the next two games with Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn starting, they’re going to have to feast on the starters some in order to prevail.

Stephen Strasburg unlikely to pitch in the NLDS

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals walks off the field after an injury in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that starter Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS against the Dodgers, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. Strasburg hasn’t pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass.

Strasburg was pitching well before a few poor starts prior to being shut down in August. He currently holds a 3.60 ERA with a 183/44 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings.

The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May. This was obviously not how they invisioned his 2016 campaign going.

A.J. Cole fined, suspended five games for throwing at Jung Ho Kang

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Home plate umpire Jordan Baker ejects A.J. Cole #22 of the Washington Nationals in the third inning during the game at PNC Park on September 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally throwing at Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Cole is appealing his suspension.

Kang faked a tag on Bryce Harper, who was coming into third base on a triple. The fake-out caused Harper to slide awkwardly, injuring his left thumb. The Nationals took exception to this and Cole threw a fastball that ended sailing behind Kang’s back during his next at-bat. Cole was ejected and both benches emptied. There was some yelling and some light pushing and shoving, but nothing beyond that.

Cole will remain active until his appeal is heard, which may allow him to make one more start before the end of the regular season. He’s carrying a 5.09 ERA with a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over seven starts this season.