And now, the HardballTalk staff predictions

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Our Springtime Storyline previews are the Official Previews of HardballTalk. But despite our little paragraphs entitled “So, how are they going to do?” their real value is in talking about the issues facing each team, not in providing predictions.

And, it should be noted, they are a collective product. For example, Aaron wrote up the AL Central and he and I may differ on the order in which the teams will finish. I wrote up the NL West and D.J. and Drew may think I’m full of beans.  Such is the nature of collaboration. And as such, I thought it would fun for each of us to provide a quick and dirty rundown of how we think things will end up come October.

For what it’s worth, there is nothing terribly radical here. My pick of the Cubs is unique. Drew’s prediction of the Yankees missing the playoffs is somewhat unconventional. D.J. feels more optimistic about the Athletics’ chances than any of us.

Anyway, as Casey Stengel said: “Never make predictions. Especially about the future.” So, you know, take this all with a grain of salt.

CRAIG CALCATERRA

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Cubs, Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Giants, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks

ALDS: Red Sox over White Sox and Yankees over Rangers
NLDS: Phillies over Cubs, Braves over Giants
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Phillies over Braves
World Series: Red Sox over Phillies

AARON GLEEMAN

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Mets, Marlins, Nationals
NL Central: Reds, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Astros
NL West: Giants, Rockies, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres

ALDS: Red Sox over Twins and Yankees over Rangers
NLDS: Phillies over Giants, Braves over Reds
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Phillies over Braves
World Series: Phillies over Red Sox

D.J. SHORT

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Athletics, Rangers, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks

ALDS: Red Sox over Athletics and Yankees over White Sox
NLDS: Rockies over Phillies, Braves over Brewers
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Rockies over Braves
World Series: Red Sox over Rockies

DREW SILVA

AL East: Red Sox, Rays (WC), Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: White Sox, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Brewers, Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks

ALDS: Red Sox over Rangers, Rays over White Sox
NLDS: Phillies over Brewers, Braves over Rockies
ALCS: Red Sox over Rays
NLCS: Braves over Phillies
World Series: Red Sox over Braves

BOB HARKINS

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Angels, Athletics, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Giants (WC), Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.