Cardinals win final game of season to claim NL Central title

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The Cardinals trounced the Cubs in the final game of the season on Sunday afternoon to claim the NL Central title. The club entered the day’s action leading the Brewers by one game. They took care of business themselves.

Paul Goldschmidt opened the scoring in the first inning with an RBI single. Marcell Ozuna put a second run on the board while grounding into a double play. Dexter Fowler smacked a two-run homer in the second. The Cardinals put up a four-spot in the third thanks to an RBI single from Ozuna and a three-run Matt Carpenter home run. Goldschmidt added a solo shot in the fourth to make it 9-0.

Jack Flaherty had little issue carving through the Cubs’ lineup. He tossed seven shutout innings, yielding just a pair of hits and a walk while striking out six. Flaherty ends the season 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA and a 231/55 K/BB ratio over 196 1/3 innings.

Giovanny Gallegos worked a scoreless eighth before handing the ball to Carlos Martínez for the ninth. Martínez worked a 1-2-3 frame to seal the deal, giving the Cardinals their division crown.

The Cardinals are back in the postseason for the first time since 2015, when they also won the NL Central. They will face the Braves in the NLDS. The Brewers, meanwhile, will face the Nationals in the NL Wild Card game. The winner of that game moves on to face the Dodgers in the NLDS.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.