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Cardinals put Yadier Molina at third base for an inning

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No, the headline isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke.

Monday afternoon’s Cardinals-Pirates game in Pittsburgh got weird. The Pirates wasted a 4-0 lead, serving up a three-spot to the Cardinals in the seventh, then let them tie the game in the eighth. The Pirates retook the lead in the bottom half of the lead only to let the Cardinals tie it up again in the ninth.

With the teams deadlocked at five runs apiece, Matt Carpenter led off the top of the 11th against Pirates lefty Steven Brault. After working the count 2-1, Carpenter took a slider high and inside for strike two. Carpenter didn’t like the call, although the pitch did indeed appear to cross the strike zone. Brault threw another slider, outside this time, that Carpenter check-swung at. Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza sent the appeal to third base umpire Jordan Baker, who ruled that Carpenter swung for strike three. Carpenter said something that Carapazza didn’t like and was immediately ejected.

Paul Goldschmid flied out, Paul DeJong singled, pinch-hitter Matt Wieters was hit by a pitch, and Yadier Molina walked to load the bases. Nick Kingham then came in to relieve Brault. Facing Yairo Muñoz, Kingham threw a ball in the dirt that got past catcher Francisco Cervelli, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Kingham uncorked a wild pitch, but the ball took a fortuitous carom back to Cervelli, who found Molina straying a bit too far off of second base. Molina got into a rundown that eventually resulted in Wieters being tagged out at home.

That wasn’t the end of the weirdness. Because the Cardinals were now without Carpenter, the bench was short, and Wieters had to stay in the game, Molina started the bottom of the 11th at third base. It’s the first time Molina has ever appeared at a defensive position other than catcher and first base in his professional baseball career. Perhaps fortunately, the ball never found Molina. Facing right-hander John Gant, J.B. Shuck grounded out. Then, after Adam Frazier walked, Starling Marte grounded into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. The Cardinals won, 6-5.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.