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Leonys Martin robs Paul DeJong of a game-tying home run, eliminates Cardinals from NL Wild Card race


On Wednesday, Leonys Martin caught the final out in center field as the Cubs clinched the NL Central with a 5-1 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. On Thursday, Martin again caught the final out, this time robbing Paul DeJong of a game-tying solo home run, eliminating the Cardinals out of NL Wild Card contention in the process.

The Cubs scored first as Ian Happ drilled a solo home run off of Lance Lynn in the first inning. Dexter Fowler tied the game at one apiece in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI ground out. The game remained knotted at 1-1 into the 11th inning until the Cubs’ Taylor Davis knocked in a run with a double.

In the bottom of the 11th, Cubs reliever Jen-Ho Tseng got two quick outs, getting Fowler to strike out and Jose Martinez to fly out to Martin in center. Tseng then threw a 1-1 93 MPH fastball to DeJong, who crushed it to straightaway center field, but Martin tracked the ball and timed his leap to bring the ball back from beyond the fence to seal the Cubs’ 2-1 victory. Tough to have your playoffs dashed in a more heartbreaking way.

The Brewers beat the Reds 4-3 on Thursday, gaining a half-game on the idle Rockies for the second NL Wild Card slot. They’re two games behind with three games left in the regular season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will take on the Nationals in the NLDS.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.