Cardinals put Game 6 out of reach with a fifth-inning outburst

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After going up 4-0 in the third inning, the Cardinals continued to tack on runs in the fifth. In doing so, they chased Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw from the game after 98 pitches. The lefty did not record an out in the fifth.

The inning started off with Yadier Molina singling to right field. Yasiel Puig had trouble getting the ball, so Molina took the opportunity to advance to second base. David Freese followed up with a seeing-eye single to left field. The slow-footed Molina took a turn at third base, but ultimately held up. Matt Adams let Molina score when he dumped a single to left field.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly took the slow walk out to the pitcher’s mound with the disappointing task of taking his staff out of an elimination playoff game with no outs in the fifth. Ronald Belisario was summoned from the bullpen to attempt to put out the fire. Belisario got Shane Robinson to hit a grounder to shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Freese, who was running on contact, instigated a run down, allowing both runners to advance — Adams to second, and Robinson to second. Belisario then walked Kozma intentionally to bring up pitcher Michael Wacha. Wacha grounded out, scoring Adams and moving Robinson to third and Kozma to second.

Mattingly had to come out to the mound again, this time to bring in lefty J.P. Howell for Belisario. Matt Carpenter greeted Howell with a a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 7-0. After going ahead 1-2 to Carlos Beltran, Howell threw a slider in the dirt that catcher A.J. Ellis couldn’t handle. Kozma scored, making it 8-0, and Wacha moved to third base. On the next pitch, Beltran hit a grounder in the hole between third base and shortstop, making it 9-0. The inning came to a close when Matt Holliday flied out to center.

The Cardinals appear to be well on their way to clinching a World Series appearance. Wacha thus far has held the Dodgers scoreless over five innings, continuing his run of post-season dominance.

White Sox sign Ervin Santana to minors deal

Ervin Santana
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Free agent right-hander Ervin Santana picked up a minor league deal with the White Sox, according to various reports Friday. Per Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com, Santana will make $4.33 million if he manages to crack the major-league roster this spring. Any official confirmation from the team is still dependent on the results of a physical.

The veteran righty hasn’t seen any action in MLB for some time. He was laid low by prolonged discomfort in his right middle finger last spring, and underwent a capsular release/debridement procedure that kept him off the mound for all but 24 2/3 innings of his 2018 campaign with the Twins. When healthy, however, he’s been as durable and productive as they come. Santana earned his second career All-Star distinction in 2017 and pitched to a 16-8 record in 33 starts with three shutouts, a 3.28 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 SO/9, and 2.9 fWAR through 211 1/3 innings.

Barring further complications with his pitching hand, the 36-year-old should be a stabilizing force for the White Sox’ rotation in 2019 — assuming he can beat out southpaw Manny Bañuelos and right-handers Jordan Stephens and Dylan Covey for a back-end role, that is. According to FanGraphs, the club’s starters ranked worst in the league in 2018 with a collective 5.07 ERA, 5.18 FIP, and 3.1 fWAR.