Rays release Grant Balfour, eat $7 million

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Predictably no teams were interested in claiming Grant Balfour and the remainder of his $7 million salary off waivers, so the Rays have released the 37-year-old right-hander after designating him for assignment.

Last offseason the Orioles backed out a two-year, $15 million deal with Balfour over concerns about the health of his arm and he eventually signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Rays. Balfour had a lot of success in Tampa Bay previously, turning his career around from 2008-2010, but he struggled last year and looked even worse in six appearances this season.

At age 37 he’s likely finished as a late-inning bullpen option, because Balfour’s once-electric raw stuff is no longer good enough to make up for poor control, but he could latch on somewhere as a middle reliever now that the Rays are on the hook for his entire salary.

Video: Dexter Fowler robs Asdrúbal Cabrera of three-run homer

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler made a critical catch in the eighth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Nationals. With the Cardinals leading 5-1, the Nationals were threatening with runners on first and second with one out against lefty Andrew Miller. Asdrúbal Cabrera worked a full count before serving a 3-2 outside slider to right field. The ball had home run distance, but Fowler tracked it, leaped at the wall, and robbed Cabrera of a three-run home run.

Carlos Martínez relieved Miller, getting Victor Robles to ground out to end the inning. The Cardinals would go on to win 5-1.

The game had playoff implications on both sides. The win bumped the Cardinals’ hold on first place in the NL Central to 2.5 games while the Nationals’ lead over the Cubs and Brewers for the first NL Wild Card shrinks to just one game.

The Nationals will close out their final road trip of the regular season with three games against the Marlins before hosting the Phillies for five games and the Indians for three. The Cardinals, meanwhile, begin their final road trip of the regular season with four against the Cubs followed by three against the Diamondbacks before closing out the season at home with three games versus the Cubs.