The Cardinals still have a shot at the postseason

Matt Carpenter
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The Cardinals are still in the mix for a playoff spot after downing the Cubs 2-1 on Saturday. In order to secure their spot in the NL Wild Card Game, however, they’ll need the Giants to rally from a disheartening 3-1 defeat on Friday and win their final two games against the Dodgers, who currently have a 1.5-game leg up in the wild card race.

Things were looking up for the Cardinals on Saturday following one of Miles Mikolas‘ strongest starts of the year. The right-hander went eight strong, limiting the Cubs to just one run and five hits and striking out six of 28 batters faced. With the win, his record now sits at 18-4, a personal best over four seasons at the major-league level.

At the plate, the Cubs were the first to strike after a routine pop-up deflected off of Yairo Munoz‘s glove in the first inning, giving Ben Zobrist just enough time to sprint around the bases and score the first run of the afternoon. Their lead didn’t last long, however, as Paul DeJong singled in the tying run in the fourth and Matt Carpenter came through with the winning run in the fifth after lacing a line drive up the middle. In the ninth, Carlos Martinez shut the door with a five-pitch inning, retiring Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo on back-to-back groundouts and inducing a game-ending fly out from Javier Baez.

While the scales could still tip in the Cardinals’ favor this weekend, there’s also the potential for chaos. Should the Cardinals and Dodgers tie for the second wild card slot, they’ll play a tie-breaker in St. Louis to determine which team will face off against the no. 1 wild card holder… which might be the Brewers or the Cubs, depending on how the rest of the weekend shakes out.

After Saturday’s win, Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt had only this to say:

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

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SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.