Shane Robinson

Lineup change suggests Cardinals are ready for small ball

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If you did a million World Series simulations last week — and I assume someone out there probably did — Game 5 almost surely ended up being the lowest scoring contest of the bunch. It’s simply a rematch of Game 1 with Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright facing off again, but this time it’s in the NL park, with no designated hitter. Also, Busch Stadium is a tougher place to hit than Fenway anyway. Those John Lackey-Michael Wacha matchups may also have projected as pitcher’s duels, but they were both slated for Fenway and the DH.

So, yes, on paper, tonight appears likely to be a low scoring game. That’s probably a big reason why Cardinals manager Mike Matheny decided to not only start Shane Robinson but to put him in the two hole ahead of Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran. If leadoff man Matt Carpenter singles or walk to lead off an inning, it’s a good bet that Robinson is going to bunt him over or that Matheny will at least try a hit and run. It may be the latter, since Robinson actually doesn’t have any successful sac bunts in his major league career.

And that’s not necessarily such a horrible plan; one run could make a whole lot of difference in tonight’s game. But it’ll sting in the end if the Cardinals again happen to find themselves up down two runs in the ninth with two outs and their No. 2 hitter up. Beltran didn’t get his chance in Game 4 because of Kolten Wong’s miscue. Tonight’s it’s Matheny’s machinations that could cost him an at-bat.

Hisashi Iwakuma’s 2017 option vests, but salary still undetermined

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: Hisashi Iwakuma #18 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the third inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 13, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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With last Wednesday’s start against the Yankees, Mariners hurler Hisashi Iwakuma pushed his 2016 innings total up to 2016. That clears the 162-inning hurdle for his 2017 option to vest at $14 million. However, as Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors reports, the language in Iwakuma’s contract also stipulates that the right-hander finish the season without suffering a specific injury.

Iwakuma, 35, was in agreement with the Dodgers on a three-year contract back in December but failed the physical, which nullified the deal. He ended up signing with the Mariners on a one-year, $12 million deal with a full no-trade clause and club options for 2017 and ’18 that vest at specific inning thresholds (162 each or 324 for both seasons).

This season, Iwakuma has stayed healthy, making 26 starts to the tune of a 14-9 record, a 3.81 ERA and a 118/36 K/BB ratio in 163 innings.

Ichiro Suzuki passes Wade Boggs for 27th on baseball’s all-time hits list

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 28: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins grounds out during the 2nd inning against the San Diego Padres at Marlins Park on August 28, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki deposited a single to left-center field in the fourth inning of Monday night’s game against the Mets, then added a double to center field in the eighth. Those mark hits No. 3,010 and 3,011 for Suzuki in his major league career, tying and then moving past Wade Boggs for sole possession of 27th on baseball’s all-time hits list.

Suzuki would come around to score on a double by Xavier Scruggs to break a scoreless tie in the eighth.

Here’s the video of Ichiro’s first hit.

By the end of the season, Suzuki will have presumably moved ahead of Rafael Palmeiro (26th; 3,020) and Lou Brock (25th; 3,023).

Suzuki was 2-for-4 after the double. With baseball’s fifth month nearly complete, the 42-year-old is currently batting .298/.371/.373.