Manny Machado Leads Dodgers to Pivotal 9-7 Win Over Cardinals

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Dodgers got some help from a former Cardinal before their pivotal series against St. Louis.

David Freese, who joined Los Angeles in a trade with the Pirates at the end of August, offered some insight on the Cardinals’ young pitchers during the Dodgers’ hitters meeting. The advice paid off.

Manny Machado homered and drove in three runs to back Clayton Kershaw, and the Dodgers beat the Cardinals 9-7 in the opener of a four-game series between playoff contenders.

“Just better approaches,” Machado said. “Keep it simple. See the ball, hit the ball. The guy’s going to have to throw it over the plate and when we make good contact and when we’re at our best, we’re not going to miss those opportunities.”

The Dodgers snapped a five-game losing streak against the Cardinals and moved to within one game of St. Louis for the final NL wild-card spot. The Cardinals, who went 22-6 in August, lost their second straight game and fell to 5-7 in September.

Kershaw (8-5), pitching at Busch Stadium for the first time since taking the loss in Game 4 of the 2014 NL division series, struck out eight in six innings, allowing four runs — three earned — on eight hits and two walks.

“I felt good tonight,” Kershaw said. “My curveball wasn’t great but my other two (pitches) I felt like I had good command tonight.”

Freese tripled on a 14-pitch at-bat against Austin Gomber to score Chris Taylor and Machado in the first. Matt Kemp followed with a single to score Freese.

“I threw him everything I had,” Gomber said. “I went back and looked at the video. I thought the first 13 pitches were good pitches and the 14th one wasn’t. He made me pay. Kind of just how the night went. They put some swings on pitches that I thought were good pitches.”

Kershaw’s RBI single started a four-run fourth and drove Gomber (5-1) from the game. Taylor followed with an RBI double, and Justin Turner and Machado had sacrifice flies as the Dodgers went ahead 8-1.

Machado went 3 for 4, and his solo homer in the seventh traveled 417 feet to center.

“We did what we needed to do,” Machado said. “We got runners in scoring position. We got the runners in. Hopefully we can repeat it.”

It was Gomber’s first loss in the majors. The rookie left-hander went three-plus innings and gave up a career-high seven runs on nine hits.

“You saw us fighting and winning pitches,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We have a lineup that can kind of grind starters and get a big hit and use the whole field.”

Cardinals reliever Tyson Ross hit his second career home run in the fifth, sparking a three-run rally. He became the fourth Cardinals pitcher to homer this season, the most the team has had since 1966.

Matt Carpenter had a pair of singles and scored twice. Marcell Ozuna had two hits, an RBI and scored a run.

“I’m really proud of the guys tonight,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “They one-through-nine battled to the end. That’s what this team does.”

The Cardinals scored twice and brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen needed 29 pitches to finish the game in a non-save situation.

“It got a little nerve-wracking there,” Roberts said. “Obviously he’s our guy, but he wasn’t sharp tonight and he found a way to close it out for us.”

FAN-TASTIC

The attendance was announced at 40,997, putting the Cardinals over the 3 million mark for the 15 straight season and 22nd overall.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling will move back into the rotation for Sunday’s game, moving LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu back to Monday and LHP Alex Wood to the bullpen.

Cardinals: C Yadier Molina (left hamstring tightness) returned to the starting lineup after missing six games. He went 0 for 1 with a walk before leaving the game after the fourth inning with St. Louis trailing by seven. “He feels like he can catch without any issue, and clearly he’ll be a little compromised on the bases,” Shildt said. “It’s something that we’ll sacrifice him scoring maybe a run, of course clearly we might pinch-run for him late in the game if it’s applicable.”

UP NEXT

The Cardinals send RHP Jack Flaherty (8-6, 2.92 ERA) to the mound Friday night. The Dodgers will counter with RHP Walker Buehler (6-5, 3.09) in a rematch of a duel between the rookies in a 3-1 Cardinals win at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 22. Flaherty struck out 10 in that game, giving up one hit (a solo homer by Joc Pederson) in six innings, while Buehler allowed three hits and struck out nine over seven scoreless innings.

Cubs Closer Pedro Strop Injures Hamstring Running to First Base in 10th Inning

Pedro Strop expects to miss “at least a couple weeks” after injuring his hamstring while running to first base in the 10th inning of the Cubs win over the Nationals on Thursday, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.

Strop entered the game with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and the score tied, 3-3. He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless inning to push the contest into extras.

In the top of the 10th, Chicago grabbed a 4-3 advantage when Javier Baez bunted in Kris Bryant with one out. Then Willson Contreras forced a walk to bring Strop up to the plate with the bases loaded.

Instead of pinch-hitting for Strop, the Cubs left him out there, and he hit into an inning-ending double play. As Strop was running down the first base line, he injured his hamstring.

Strop left the game after that, and Randy Rosario earned the save for Chicago.

Manager Joe Maddon said he doesn’t know who will close in place of Strop, who has 13 saves in 17 opportunities this season. Strop will get an MRI on his left hamstring.

The Cubs are first in the NL Central at 85-61, just 1 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers.

Steve Smith Was Not Here for Michael Irvin’s Comments on Ravens Receivers

Steve Smith proved he’s still got his trash talk skills when disucssing the Ravens receiving corps with Michael Irvin.

Steve Smith wasn’t having any of Michael Irvin’s trash talk ahead of the Ravens game against the Bengals.

While the group was discussing quarterback Joe Flacco’s new receiving corps on “NFL Gameday Kickoff,” Irvin suggested that Michael Crabtree might be the first receiver Flacco could trust since Anquan Boldin in 2012 — when the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

Smith however wasn’t feeling that. He played with the Ravens from 2014–2016, recording 2,534 receiving yards while in Baltimore. Boldin had 2,645 receiving yards in three seasons with the Ravens.

Smith, a career trash talker, naturally let it all flow again.

He started comparing himself to Irvin, saying he was way better.

“I understand you have the rings, but I passed you statistically years ago,” Smith said. “There ain’t no route I could run that you hoped you could run. I got a doctorate in route running, you got an associate’s degree.”

Smith’s still got it.

AFC North Looks Wide Open After Bengals Beat Ravens on Thursday Night Football

It may only be Week 2, but one thing is clear: the AFC North is up for grabs. The Bengals won on Thursday Night Football last night, beating the Ravens 34–23 (the same score by which Cincinnati beat Indianapolis last week) and advancing to 2–0, alone atop the division. The last time the Bengals started 2–0 in 2015, the team reached the playoffs. 

However the game revealed inconsistencies for both Cincinnati and Baltimore—neither team dominated and neither looked completely hapless. Every quarter the momentum just oscillated back and forth—the Bengals have control now … no, wait … the Ravens are good now … no, no, wait. For a period of time it seemed like the team that got more pass interference calls in the end zone would end up the victor.

Cincinnati got off to a fast start—possibly emphasized by Baltimore, who appeared to slowly realize that the team was not playing against Nathan Peterman and the Bills anymore—highlighted by A.J. Green catching three touchdown passes in the first 17 minutes, the first three-TD game of the wide receiver’s career. Geno Atkins did Geno Atkins things, and the offensive line, even the much maligned right side which was abused against Indianapolis in Week 1, looked solid, if not staunch. Andy Dalton looked like it was 2013-15 again, when he was thought of a soon-to-be breakout MVP candidate, as he tossed four touchdown passes in the first half and displayed more zip on his passes than we’ve seen from him in recent seasons. And as a result, the Bengals went into the half having scored 28 points, a total that they reached in only two games last season.

But then in the second half they became, well, the Bengals again as the Ravens showed some signs of life, at times. Joe Flacco went from Trash to Elite, back to Trash, back to Elite, seemingly alternating interceptions with touchdowns in what could be called a microcosm of his career. But as Cincinnati’s offense sputtered, Baltimore slowly narrowed the lead, bringing it to within five midway through the fourth quarter. But the Bengals managed to be just good enough to pull out the not-all-that-impressive win.

All this means, really, is that nobody is coming out of this game looking like the clear class of the division. With the Steelers looking vulnerable after tying Cleveland last week in an extremely ugly game, and conversely the Browns looking at least somewhat competent, this division may not give us the most visually pleasing football to watch this year, but with four competitive, inconsistent teams it will still be fascinating to see how the standings play out going forward.

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HOT READS

Now on The MMQB: Albert Breer on the Bills decision to start Josh Allen … Need fantasy football start/sit advice? Michael Beller has you covered … Our football experts give you their best picks for Week 2 … And our gambling gurus tell you the best most likely to pay off this weekend.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Yours truly on the only active NFL player to also be a medically licensed doctor … Robert Klemko was in Denver with Mama Griffin, and wrote a touching story on her son Shaquem’s impact that spans far beyond football … Confused about the new tackling rules? Jenny Vrentas breaks down the incredibly frustrating “body weight” call.


PRESS COVERAGE

1. Jalen Ramsey added another person to his hit list: Grandma.

2. Dak Prescott heard Landon Collins’s challenge, and responded.

3. Zay Jones apologized to Kelvin Benjamin for his mother’s tweet.

4. Leonard Fournette called himself a “game-time decision” in the Jaguars AFC championship rematch with the Patriots on Sunday.

5. After vowing to play in the Packers Week 2 divisional showdown vs the Vikings, Aaron Rodgers has yet to practice this week with his sprained knee.

6. After pleading guilty to insider trading, Mychal Kendricks signed with the Seahawks.

7. In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow injury has caused him to miss his second consecutive practice.

8. Le’Veon Bell is disappointed his teammates talked about his contract situation.


The Kicker

Let’s take a moment to recognize the Seattle Storm, who won their third WNBA title in dominating fashion on Wednesday night, sweeping the Washington Mystics. Sue Bird—the oldest player in the league at 37 years old, in her 16th season with the Storm, playing with a broken nose—was unflappable and transcendent, and this victory only further bolstered her legacy as a legend of the league. The precocious Breanna Stewart, now the youngest Finals MVP in WNBA history, was absolutely dominant, which we should have expected after her absolutely dominant college career. Still, it was incredible to watch her just take over games and simply will Seattle to wins.

If you’re rolling your eyes, stay with me here—I’ll be the first to admit I don’t follow the league nearly closely enough, but I caught a handful of playoff games and the talent level is so absurdly high and the games are wildly entertaining. If the league is good enough for Lebron, Kobe, Dwyane Wade and Earl Thomas to watch, then maybe you should give it a try next season.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com.

Bengals Running Back Joe Mixon Returns After Leaving Game With Knee Injury

The Bengals running back has 48 yards vs. the Ravens.

Bengals running back Joe Mixon is questionable to return to Thursday’s game against the Ravens, the team announced.

The second-year back left the game in the third quarter with a right knee injury.

Mixon has 14 carries for 48 yards in the game and Cincinnati holds a lead.

With Mixon down, the Bengals will rely on Giovani Bernard to handle rushing duties. Bernard has four carries for 24 yards and four catches for 15 yards so far in the game.

Brewers Hold Most Value as World Series Sleeper Pick

The Brewers have won 11 of their last 14 games, and Milwaukee seems like a legitimate contender to win the World Series, even though the team is priced like a sleeper. 

After taking two of three games from the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field to pull within one game of the lead in the National League Central on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Brewers also moved closer to their first postseason berth since 2011.

The Brewers have won 11 of their last 14 games—including four of six against the Cubs—and appear to be one of the top value picks on the odds to win the World Series at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Milwaukee is currently listed at +1200 (bet $100 to win $1200).

The Brewers have the second-best record in the National League right now and appear to be a lock for at least a Wild Card spot. In fact, if the regular season ended today, Milwaukee would host the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card game, with the winner facing Chicago in the NL Division Series.

The Cardinals also hold some value at +1500, although they trail the Brewers by 2.5 games in the NL Central standings and sit 3.5 behind the Cubs, who are the +550 third choice to win their second World Series title in three years.

The two favorites to win the 2018 World Series are the Boston Red Sox (+400) and Houston Astros (+450), with both teams hailing from the American League.

The Red Sox have already reached the 100-win plateau and have played almost as good on the road as they have at home. Meanwhile, the defending World Series champion Astros own the best road record in baseball, and they are trying to stave off the Oakland Athletics (+1400) for their second straight AL West title.

Oakland is just three games back of Houston for first place and also chasing the New York Yankees for the top Wild Card spot.

The Yankees have seen their stock drop a bit recently, falling to +950 on the World Series odds as the fifth choice on the betting board behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (+600) and just ahead of the Cleveland Indians (+1000).

New York has virtually no shot at winning the AL East, so the team must focus on earning one of the two Wild Card bids the rest of the way.

What Happened to Color Rush Uniforms in the NFL?

Find out what happened to Thursday Night Football’s Color Rush uniforms.

One of the biggest debates of Thursday Night Football in seasons past was the Color Rush uniforms.

They resulted in ugly, ridiculous combos that were just eyesores. Who could forget the “Ketchup and Mustard” game between the Buccaneers and Rams in 2015.

But the uniforms likely won’t be making an appearance again.

Fox Sports got the rights for “Thursday Night Football” through 2022, and with the deal, Color Rush came into question.

Bill Wanger, executive vice president of programming, research and content strategy for Fox Sports, said the uniforms were going away in April and that fans didn’t need gimmicks to watch the game.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported in April that the uniforms weren’t going completely away but wouldn’t just be for Thursday night. According to Forbes, some teams will break out the uniforms throughout the season, but they won’t be forced to wear them on Thursdays.

So fans will be lucky to not be overwhelmed.

Ravens Linebacker C.J. Mosley Carted Off in First Quarter vs. Bengals

The Ravens drafted Mosley with the No. 17 pick in 2014.

Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley was carted to the locker room early in the first quarter of Thursday’s game against the Bengals and is being evaluated for a knee injury, the team announced.

Mosley has been a key piece of Baltimore’s defense since the team drafted him out of Alabama with the No. 17 pick in 2014.

After Mosley exited the game, the Bengals went on to score the game’s first touchdown when Andy Dalton connected with A.J. Green on a four-yard pass.

Mosley, a three-time Pro Bowler, has only missed two games in his entire career, and both came during the 2016 season. He is in the final year of his contract and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports the Ravens and Mosley have not been close on agreeing to an extension.

Ravens LB C.J. Mosley Suffers Knee Injury, Carted to Locker Room vs. Bengals

The Ravens drafted Mosley with the No. 17 pick in 2014.

Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley has a bone bruise and is doubtful to return to Thursday’s game against the Bengals, the team announced.

He was carted to the locker room early in the first quarter to be evaluated for a knee injury.

Mosley has been a key piece of Baltimore’s defense since the team drafted him out of Alabama with the No. 17 pick in 2014.

After Mosley exited the game, the Bengals went on to score the game’s first touchdown when Andy Dalton connected with A.J. Green on a four-yard pass.

Mosley, a three-time Pro Bowler, has only missed two games in his entire career, and both came during the 2016 season. He is in the final year of his contract and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports the Ravens and Mosley have not been close on agreeing to an extension.

Report: Mychal Kendricks to Sign One-Year Deal With Seahawks

Mychal Kendricks will reportedly play Monday night when the Seahawks take on the Bears.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who pleaded guilty to insider trading charges last week, is signing a one-year deal with the Seahawks, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

According to Schefter, Kendricks will play Monday night when the Seahawks take on the Bears at 8:15 p.m. ET. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Kendricks visited with Seattle on Thursday.

The 27-year-old Kendricks faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced in December.

Kendricks and Goldman Sachs analyst turned Black-ish TV writer Damilare Sonoiki were indicted Aug. 29 on insider trading charges pertaining to investments made four years ago. Kendricks reportedly made a profit of about $1.2 million by paying Sonoiki in cash as well as with Eagles tickets.

Kendricks was released in May by the Eagles, but signed with Browns during the offseason. The Browns released him after he was indicted. Last season, Kendricks recorded 77 combined tackles and two sacks.