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.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. named ALCS MVP

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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series after his club punched its ticket to the World Series on Thursday night against the Astros.

Coincidentally, the Astros’ Game 5 starter Justin Verlander was ALCS MVP last year en route to a championship.

Bradley went 0-for-3 with a walk in Thursday’s Game 5, but he hit a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a go-ahead two-run home run in Game 4. That’s nine RBI and three extra-base hits across five games. He also drew four walks.

Though Bradley had a solid regular season, he was not near the top of the list most people would’ve expected to win ALCS MVP heading into the series. During the season, he hit .234/.314/.403 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 535 plate appearances.