The Cardinals sent the Brewers to their ninth straight loss with a 3-2 victory this evening at Miller Park. They have now won six in a row and own a four-game lead over Milwaukee in the National League Central.
The Cardinals got on the board first with a two-run single from Yadier Molina against Wily Peralta in the first inning. Kolten Wong added an RBI single in the third, which stood up as the difference in the ballgame. Making his first start since June 17, Michael Wacha allowed one run over three innings before giving way to the bullpen. Marco Gonzales allowed a solo homer to Rickie Weeks in his 2 1/3 innings of work before Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, Pat Neshek, and Trevor Rosenthal finished off the victory.
The Brewers left 11 men on base in this one, so they had their share of chances, but the Cardinals held firm thanks to some excellent outfield defense. Jon Jay made a pair of excellent catches to rob Khris Davis of run-scoring hits. Peter Bourjos later added an impressive running catch on a long fly ball off the bat of Jordan Schafer in the eighth inning. It’s worth noting that the fly ball from Schafer came after a failed bunt attempt from Martin Maldonado with two on and nobody out, which would have moved a runner over to third base. It was that kind of night for the Brewers.
As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes, the Brewers led the National League Central by 1 1/2 games before the start of their losing streak. They now find themselves tied with the Braves for the second Wild Card spot.
The Brewers and Cardinals will play three more games this weekend. Mike Fiers will try to stop the slide for Milwaukee tomorrow night while St. Louis will counter with John Lackey.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.