Chris Carpenter hurls shutout and Braves continue collapse as St. Louis captures Wild Card

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Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter defined the term “ace” Wednesday night in Houston, limiting the Astros to just two hits over nine scoreless innings. He issued only one walk and struck out 11 batters, throwing 76 of his 105 pitches for strikes.

Every member of the St. Louis starting lineup netted a hit as the Redbirds rolled to an 8-0 victory.

Down in Atlanta, the failures continued.

The Braves took a 3-1 lead in the third inning courtesy of a two-run Dan Uggla homer and starter Tim Hudson yielded just two runs over 6 1/3 innings, but the Phillies kept their regular position players active throughout and rallied to a 3-3 tie in the top of the ninth against red-faced rookie closer Craig Kimbrel.

Over an hour later, in the top of the 13th, Hunter Pence blooped an RBI single to the right side of the infield for the go-ahead run. The Braves could not counter, and ended their historic collapse with a 4-3 loss.

What a night for Major League Baseball. And what a night for the Wild Card champion Cardinals.

St. Louis will open the NLDS on Saturday against the Phillies. The Diamondbacks will face the Brewers.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.