LEADING OFF: 106-win Dodgers host Cards in NL wild-card game

Sports

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright responds to a question during a baseball news conference in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. The Cardinals play the Los Angeles Dodgers in wild card playoff game on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

A look at what’s happening around the majors today:

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WILD OUT WEST

The 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers put their season on the line in the NL wild-card game against the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals. No team has ever won so many games and failed to win its division, but LA couldn’t catch the 107-win San Francisco Giants, forcing the club into the one-game playoff.

Max Scherzer will start for the Dodgers. The 37-year-old right-hander was 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA after joining Los Angeles from Washington, along with NL batting champion Trea Turner, at the July 30 trade deadline. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is from the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield.

He’ll face Cardinals 40-year-old Adam Wainwright (17-7, 3.05 ERA). St. Louis used a 17-game winning streak down the stretch to lock up the second NL wild card

The Dodgers will be without slugger Max Muncy and ace Clayton Kershaw. Muncy injured his left elbow Sunday but could return if Los Angeles remains in the postseason. Kershaw has an issue in his left elbow/forearm and is done for the year.

HEADING SOUTH

Xander Bogaerts and the Boston Red Sox are all set to face Tampa Bay in a best-of-five Division Series beginning Thursday night in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Boston gets a day to rest, recharge and work out at Tropicana Field after beating the rival New York Yankees 6-2 in the AL wild-card game Tuesday night. The Red Sox went 8-11 against the AL East champion Rays this season and finished eight games behind them.

Perhaps the time off will benefit designated hitter J.D. Martinez, who was left off the wild-card roster two days after he twisted his ankle running out to right field in a rare defensive appearance.

Martinez slipped on second base while taking his position between innings Sunday. The four-time All-Star batted .286 with 28 homers and 99 RBIs this season.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora noted that the roster was different for a one-game playoff than it would have been for a longer series.

CALLING IT A DAY

Umpire Joe West is set to work behind the plate in the NL wild-card game as his long, colorful career nears an end.

West, who turns 69 on Oct. 31, is planning to retire at the end of the season. He told The Associated Press that he doesn’t know whether he will be assigned any more postseason games after the St. Louis-Los Angeles matchup at Dodger Stadium.

West called his first big league game in 1976 and broke Bill Klem’s record for most games umpired when he worked his 5,376th regular-season game last May.

Known as “Cowboy Joe” and “Country Joe,” the former Elon College quarterback has worked the World Series six times.

West has been a polarizing figure throughout his 45 years in the bigs. At times, he has been at odds with managers, players and Major League Baseball officials. To hear many of his umpire crewmates tell it, however, there was never anyone who cared more about the game itself more than West.

ARMING UP

With the Division Series set to begin with a pair of AL games on Thursday, teams have begun rolling out their projected rotations.

Astros manager Dusty Baker previously said Lance McCullers Jr. would start their opener against the White Sox and said Tuesday that left-hander Framber Valdez will go in Game 2. Chicago manager Tony La Russa said he was waiting until Wednesday to decide if Lance Lynn or Lucas Giolito will go in Game 1. It will be La Russa’s first time managing in the postseason since winning the World Series with St. Louis in 2011.

The Rays will host Boston, a 6-2 winner over the rival Yankees in the AL wild-card game. Tampa Bay announced Tuesday that rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan will start Game 1 and rookie righty Shane Baz will go in Game 2.

ROCKIES ROAD

The Colorado Rockies have locked up a couple key players as they try to build on a promising finish to 2021.

Right-hander Antonio Senzatela agreed to a $50.5 million, five-year deal with a club option for 2027, and first baseman C.J. Cron decided to come back on a $14.5 million, two-year contract.

The 26-year-old Senzatela has thrived at hitter-friendly Coors Field, with a .667 winning percentage in Denver that’s second highest by a Rockies starter at home (minimum 40 starts) in team history. He trails only Jorge De La Rosa, who was 53-20 at home (.726).

The 31-year-old Cron hit .281 with a team-leading 28 homers after signing a free-agent deal last February.

The Rockies went 54-53 after the start of June to finish 74-87 after trading star Nolan Arenado to St. Louis in the offseason.

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