Cubs knock out Cardinals, move on to NLCS

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Why not?

All season long the Cubs have been ahead of schedule, going from 73 wins to 97 wins in Joe Maddon’s first year as manager. And now they’ve knocked out the kings of the National League Central, dispatching with a Cardinals team that won 100 games for their third straight division title.

Maddon gave starter Jason Hammel a quick hook in the fourth inning and then pieced together the rest of the game playing the matchups with a motley bullpen crew that was made up of ex-starters, waiver wire pickups, and previously washed up veterans rescued from the scrap heap.

It was a helluva thing to watch–Trevor Cahill! Fernando Rodney! Clayton Richard!–and the bullpen holding the Cardinals in check allowed the Cubs lineup to do what it’s done all year: Young hitters hit bombs. Chicago set an all-time record with six homers in Game 3 and went deep three more times in Game 4, with those long balls coming from a 25-year-old (Anthony Rizzo) and a pair of 22-year-olds (Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber). Overall in the four-game series the Cubs scored 15 of their 20 runs on homers.

Schwarber’s homer was particularly mammoth, leaving Wrigley Field:

John Lackey shut down the Cubs in Game 1, but the 36-year-old veteran of 20 playoff starts couldn’t come up with another gem on short rest and failed to make it out of the fourth inning. Baez, filling in at shortstop for injured rookie Addison Russell, delivered a three-run, opposite-field blast to do most of the damage. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny no doubt envisioned a Cubs-like, pieced together bullpen performance and Adam Wainwright did his part with two shutout innings, but left-hander Kevin Siegrist–who’d been so dominant all season–served up two homers to left-handed hitters and that was it.

Chicago has finally won a playoff series at Wrigley Field for the first time in franchise history and the Cubs now await the Mets-Dodgers winner in the NLCS, with ace Jake Arrieta fully rested for Game 1.

Why not?

Red Sox place Chris Sale on 10-day injured list

Chris Sale
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Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale has been placed on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation, the club revealed Saturday. The assignment is retroactive to August 14. In a corresponding roster move, right-handed reliever Ryan Brasier was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

It’s an alarming development for the 30-year-old ace, who has been remarkably injury-free after dealing with a lingering case of shoulder inflammation last summer. While he hasn’t replicated the career-high results he delivered over the last two seasons, he still leads Red Sox pitchers with 3.6 fWAR and will head to the IL with a 6-11 record in 25 starts, a 4.40 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, and league-best 13.3 SO/9 through 147 1/3 innings. A timetable has not been given for his return, nor has the severity of his injury been disclosed. Per Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, Sale has been experiencing pain in his elbow since Wednesday and will undergo further evaluation in the days to come.

Brasier, 31, was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-July after pitching to mixed results in the majors. He currently holds a 4.46 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 8.0 SO/9 with the Red Sox, though his results in Triple-A — one run, one walk, and 13 strikeouts over 9 1/3 innings — suggest that he might be capable of even sharper results when he rejoins the big league club.