Cardinals get early lead on Brewers behind two-run homer by Albert Pujols

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It didn’t work out so well for them yesterday, but the Cardinals have another early lead against the Brewers.

After Jon Jay reached on a bunt single with one out in the top of the first inning, Albert Pujols took right-hander Shaun Marcum deep for a two-run home run, giving the Cardinals an early 2-0 lead. It was a rocket over the left field fence.

As noted by Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, Pujols was homerless over his previous 47 at-bats in the postseason. His last postseason home run was off Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the 2006 World Series against the Tigers.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.