The Cardinals reach 50 wins quicker than any team since the 2005 White Sox

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With an easy 8-1 win over the Cubs on Saturday night, the Cardinals claimed their 50th victory in 74 games. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch notes, they’re the quickest to 50 wins since the 2005 world champion White Sox, when they started out 50-22.

Other relevant notes, per Langosch: in the last 50 years, only 18 teams have reached 50 wins before losing their 25th game. Of those 17 teams (excluding this year’s Cardinals, of course), four won it all: the ’05 White Sox, the 1998 Yankees, the ’86 Mets, and the ’84 Tigers. 13 of those 17 teams reached 100-plus wins. Only two of them failed to reach the playoffs.

The Cardinals currently own an eight-game lead over the second-place Pirates, by far the largest lead in any of the six divisions. All this, despite losing Adam Wainwright, Matt Adams, and Matt Holliday to injuries.

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.