Gio Gonzalez looking shaky, Cardinals lead NLDS Game 1

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Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez hasn’t allowed a hit through two innings, but he has issued five walks and thrown some wild pitches, allowing the Cardinals to take an early 2-1 lead in Game 1 of the NLDS.

This is Gio’s first career postseason start and the five-game series opened on the road due to this year’s odd home field advantage format. So it’s a reasonable assumption that he’s battling jitters.

Adam Wainwright just took the mound for the top of the third. He’s also had some command issues.

What looked like a potential pitchers’ duel on paper could very well turn into a shootout. Strap in, folks.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.