Rangers top Cardinals 4-2 in Game 5, move within one win of first ever World Series title

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Though they likely owe an assist to Tony La Russa, the Rangers are now just one win away from winning their first ever World Series title.

The Rangers defeated the Cardinals 4-2 on Monday night in Arlington and now hold a 3-2 lead in the series going into Game 6 on Wednesday night in St. Louis. Mike Napoli was the offensive star for the second straight day, delivering an opposite field two-run double off left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in the bottom of the eighth to put the Rangers in front.

C.J. Wilson danced in and out of trouble over his 5 1/3 innings of work, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits, five walks and a wild pitch. The Cardinals had plenty of opportunities on offense, but went just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left a total of 12 men on base. They also gave away three outs via sacrifice bunts, which resulted in zero runs crossing the plate. Scott Feldman, Alexi Ogando, Darren Oliver and Neftali Feliz combined for 3 2/3 shutout innings in relief of Wilson.

While the Rangers walked away with the victory, this game will likely be remembered for some real head-scratchers on the part of La Russa, some of which he chalked up to miscommunication in his post-game press conference.

Allen Craig was gunned down twice at second base with Albert Pujols at the plate while Rzepczynski was strangely left in the ballgame to face Napoli, who has a .955 career OPS against southpaws. La Russa said in the postgame that he actually wanted right-hander Jason Motte to face the right-handed hitting Napoli, but that he wasn’t able to communicate that information to his bullpen. Whether that’s true or not really doesn’t matter at this point, because leaving Rzepczynski in resulted in the decisive play of the ballgame.

With their backs against the wall, the Cardinals will send Jaime Garcia to the mound against Colby Lewis on Wednesday night as they attempt to force a Game 7.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.