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Cardinals stay hot, bat around against Brewers

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The Cardinals appear well on their way to their fifth consecutive victory after batting around and scoring six runs against the Brewers in the second inning of Monday night’s game in Milwaukee. Three singles, two walks, two doubles, and two errors by the Brewers led to the six-spot off of Gio González. The Cardinals also scored twice in the first inning and currently lead 8-1 in the third.

Dating back to August 9, the Cardinals have won 13 of their last 16 games. They went from three games back in third place in the NL Central to 2.5 games ahead in first place. In the same span of time, the Cubs have a not so nice 6-9 record while the Brewers have gone 7-7.

The biggest performers on offense for the Cardinals in their 16-game stretch have been, well, basically everyone. Paul DeJong, Paul Goldschmidt, Dexter Fowler, and Marcell Ozuna each hit at least three homers since August 9. Those four and Tommy Edman have scored double-digit runs while Ozuna, Fowler, and Goldschmidt have knocked in double-digit runs.

On the pitching side, Dakota Hudson has allowed just two runs over his last four starts spanning 22 2/3 innings. Jack Flaherty has allowed one run over his last three starts spanning 18 innings. The bullpen has been outstanding, posting an aggregate 2.21 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 18 walks over 53 innings dating back to the 9th.

The Cubs are off tonight, so the Cardinals have a chance to push their first-place lead to three games over the Cubs and five over the Brewers.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.