The Cardinals walk off against the Pirates

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In the low-offense game of the day, Clint Hurdle was not messing around. He called on his closer, Mark Melancon, to go two innings in a 0-0 game. Can’t blame him: the Pirates’ backs are against the wall. If they lose this game they’re down five games in the NL Central and fall to two and a half back in the wild card race pending tonight’s games.

Welp, they lost. 1-0.

Melancon cruised in the eighth. And he looked like he’d cruise in the ninth after striking out the first two batters he faced. But then he walked Yadier Molina and gave up a single to Jon Jay. That brought up Peter Bourjos. Then this happened:

 

The Cardinals look to have finally figured everything out. The last time they had a lackluster season and figured it out come playoff time was 2011. The time before that: 2006. They won the World Series in both of those years.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.