St. Louis entered Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader in Pittsburgh with a magic number of two, and that number remained two after an ugly 8-2 afternoon loss to Gerrit Cole and the second-place Pirates.
But it looks like there may be a division-clinching ceremony in the visitors clubhouse following the nightcap.
Jhonny Peralta and Matt Adams both drove in runs off Game 2 starter Charlie Morton in the top of the first inning to give the Cardinals an early 2-0 lead. St. Louis then loaded the bases off Morton with no outs in top of the third, and Jason Heyward promptly obliterated this delivery from reliever Bobby LaFromboise …
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Start the countdown now. This would be the third straight division title for the Cardinals.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.