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.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO —¬†Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.