St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas is on track to be ready for the team's delayed season opener as he continues his recovery from a forearm injury he sustained during spring training, general manager John Mozeliak has said.

Mozeliak, speaking at a teleconference with reporters on Thursday, said Mikolas has progressed to playing catch up to 120 feet and is close to being cleared for throwing a light bullpen session. 

The 2018 All-Star was briefly shut down during spring training after being diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain in his right forearm in February.

Mikolas had been slated to miss the start of the 2020 season prior to Major League Baseball's shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The 31-year-old made 32 starts in each of his first two seasons with St. Louis after returning to the majors following a successful three-year stint in Japan, though he slipped to a 9-14 record and a 4.16 ERA in 2019 after going 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA the previous season.

Mozeliak also gave a positive report on reliever Andrew Miller, who made just one Grapefruit League appearance before games were suspended as he dealt with a lack of feel for his pitches. The veteran left-hander has been working out at his home in Tampa and barring any setbacks, figures to be ready if and when the season resumes.

Fellow reliever Brett Cecil, who strained his right hamstring during a Grapefruit League game on March 11, is expected to return to rehabilitation activities next week after taking some time off for personal reasons, according to Mozeliak.

Mozeliak added that the Cardinals' spring facility in Jupiter, Florida remains "basically closed" as the team complies with social distancing guidelines intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We do have a couple of players that are in the Jupiter area that are coming in for their medical rehab treatment," he said. "It's not business as usual. It's very quiet."

Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that the London Series scheduled for June 13-14 between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals has been cancelled
due to the coronavirus pandemic.

MLB played its first regular season games in Europe last season when the New York Yankees swept the Boston Red Sox in a two-game series from June 29-30 at London Stadium, the home of Premier League club West Ham United.

"We made the decision because it was unlikely the events would go forward, and timely cancellation allowed us to preserve important financial resources," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a memorandum sent to MLB employees.

The league had already cancelled two other series scheduled to be played outside of the United States.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres were set to play the first MLB regular season games in Mexico City from April 18-19, while the New York Mets and Miami
Marlins had a three-game series in Puerto Rico scheduled for April 28-30.

MLB opening day was due to be on March 26, but the league has said the earliest play could begin was mid-May.

Former All-Star outfielder Jim Edmonds says he's been diagnosed with pneumonia and is awaiting results after being tested for coronavirus.

The 49-year-old Edmonds posted an Instagram story on Saturday night in which he said he was home from the hospital and would give an update when he heard results of the test.

Earlier in the day, Edmonds posted an update with a picture of himself in hospital and wrote: "Held off as long as I could. I thought I was tough enough to get through. This virus is no joke #gethealthy."

Edmonds also said he was "not taking any chances because it is so hard to get tested by the rules of the CDC.''

Edmonds was a four-time All-Star and an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner in a Major League Baseball career that spanned from 1993-2010. He hit .284 with 393 home runs and 1,199 RBIs in 2011 games. Edmonds won the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.

The Minnesota Twins' Rocco Baldelli and St Louis Cardinals' Mike Shildt were named Managers of the Year in tight votes on Tuesday.

Baldelli became the eighth rookie manager to win the award after the Twins claimed the American League (AL) Central title before falling short in the AL Division Series.

The 38-year-old finished with 106 points to win AL Manager of the Year, just ahead of the New York Yankees' Aaron Boone (96), while the Tampa Bay Rays' Kevin Cash (33) was third.

"You take on a responsibility, and it's one that you take seriously when you take on the role of manager," Baldelli said, via the Twins' website.

"You don't do it for anything that points back to yourself. You don't do it for awards. You do it to bring a group together in the best possible way you can.

"When you do get acknowledged for something individual, it's an interesting feeling, but you are certainly floored by being acknowledged in that way."

The National League race was also close, with Shildt (95 points) finishing ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers' Craig Counsell (88) and Atlanta Braves' Brian Snitker (45).

The Cardinals reached the NL Championship Series before being swept by eventual World Series champions the Washington Nationals.

St Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has signed a three-year contract extension, the MLB franchise announced.

Shildt's new deal is through to the 2022 season after leading the Cardinals to the National League Championship Series.

The 51-year-old was hired as interim manager to replace Mike Matheny in July 2018 before being appointed on a permanent basis a little over a month later.

Shildt – whose initial contract ran through 2020 – led the Cardinals to a 91-71 record in 2019 and St Louis' first NL Central title since 2015.

The Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series before falling to eventual champions the Washington Nationals in the NLCS.

President of baseball operations John Mozeliak signed a new deal on Tuesday, while St Louis also exercised a 2020 option on general manager Mike Girsch, who penned a two-year extension.

"What Mo and his group have accomplished since he took over in 2008 as the head of our baseball ops is pretty impressive," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said.

"We've been in the playoffs seven times. We've had 12 consecutive winning seasons, two pennants, a world championship. ... We continue to have a robust farm system, which is not easy to do.

"When you have winning seasons, you don't draft high. But we've got a very strong scouting and player development group."

Max Scherzer was delighted to have proven the critics wrong as the Washington Nationals reached the MLB World Series for the first time with a 7-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

The win completed a 4-0 sweep for the Nationals, who face the winner of the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in the showpiece, the former leading 2-1 in the American League Championship Series.

In-form Washington scored seven runs in the first inning with RBIs from Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Yan Gomes, before Patrick Corbin's 12 strikeouts seeing them through.

Remarkably, the Nationals held a 19-31 record in May, prompting speculation around the future of manager Dave Martinez and Scherzer, who was rumoured to be on the trade block, but the veteran pitcher was confident the team's experienced heads would steady the ship.

"We knew we were going to be the oldest team in the league," Scherzer said.

"Everyone said that was a negative. We looked at it as a positive.

"I'm one of the old guys and old guys can still play. I think the older guys bring a lot of value to the clubhouse. The experience we bring, the emotions we bring... all that helps."

The Nationals have been a hard-luck story in playoffs over the years but general manager Mike Rizzo, who has been with the franchise for over a decade, always kept the faith in Washington.

"I think every year we're going to the World Series," he said on the field post-game.

"We've been in the playoffs five times in eight years and have won more games than any team in the majors except the [Los Angeles] Dodgers in that time.

"So, every year we head to spring training expecting to win the World Series. Get to the playoffs and you've got a puncher's chance."

The Washington Nationals will feature in their first MLB World Series after topping the St Louis Cardinals 7-4 in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

Tuesday's victory over the Cardinals secured a NLCS sweep for the high-flying Nationals.

Thanks to an early surge of offense and some excellent work on the mound, the Nationals were able to see off the Cardinals 4-0.

Washington will now await the winner of the Houston Astros-New York Yankees series as they chase their title dreams.

 

Here are three takeaways from the Nationals' win:

Nationals got the ball rolling early

It is no secret that Washington's offense have been on fire lately, but nobody expected them to explode like they did in the first inning of this critical closeout game. The Nationals scored all seven of their runs in the first inning thanks to RBIs from Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Victor Robles, and Yan Gomes. Then they coasted from there.

Even after amassing so many early runs, Washington kept fighting for more even though they ultimately could not add to their lead. The Nationals only struck out seven times in the contest after forcing St Louis to yank their starter Dakota Hudson after he recorded just one out.

Washington's pitching was on another level

The Nationals' starters have been phenomenal in the postseason as of late, and Patrick Corbin picked up right where Stephen Strasburg left off on Tuesday. Corbin notched 12 strikeouts through five innings just one day after Strasburg tallied 12 of his own against the Cardinals.

Corbin still gave up four runs in his showing, but Tanner Rainey, Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson kept St Louis scoreless for the remainder of the contest. Washington's rotation held the Cardinals to five hits in the game and only allowed them to score 1.5 runs per game in the series. Consistently being able to limit the opponent's offense made Washington's road to the World Series significantly less difficult.

Top of St Louis' order continued to struggle

The Cardinals needed big contributions from their heavy hitters to avoid elimination, and they still did not get that in Game 4 of the NLCS. The first six men in St Louis' batting order combined for three hits and 11 strikeouts. While this group did account for all four of the Cardinals' runs, three of the players were held hitless — including Paul Goldschmidt, who failed to record a hit in either of the last two games.

St Louis' top six did not capitalise on opportunities while generating nearly 70 per cent of the team's at-bats and the rest made the most of what they had. When it is all said and done, big-time players have to make big-time plays. That did not happen for the Cardinals.

The Nationals now have a crucial advantage in the National League wild-card game following their 10-7 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Saturday's victory against the already-eliminated Indians, the Nationals will host the MLB playoff contest at the beginning of October.

Gerardo Parra hit a grand slam in a whopping nine-run second inning to highlight the triumph, which is Washington's seventh consecutive win.

"I don't have to go home and pack," manager Dave Martinez said after the game, via ESPN. "Nice to stay at home. The boys wanted to stay at home, so they came out and swung the bats."

Nationals star Parra finished two of four for the night, along with Ryan Zimmerman, while Daniel Hudson earned the win after pitching one hitless inning.

 

Mets rookie Alonso sets record

Pete Alonso hit his 53rd home run on Saturday, which is more than any rookie in MLB history – surpassing Aaron Judge's record set in 2017. The New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0.

Houston Astros star Justin Verlander struck out his 3,000th batter to become just the 18th pitcher to reach the milestone.

Hyun-jin Ryu pitched seven solid innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed their 105th win. He allowed five hits while striking out seven in the 2-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

 

Rays struggle against Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays recorded only three hits in a 4-1 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays had seven starters lay goose eggs, including Austin Meadows, Jesus Aguilar and Nate Lowe, who all went 0 for four.

Edwin Jackson gave up three runs on four hits in just three innings of work in the Detroit Tigers' 7-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Detroit split the doubleheader after a 4-3 victory.

 

Soler homers… again

What else do you expect from Kansas City Royals outfielder Jorge Soler? (P.S. This was his second home run of the game.)

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Villar has power and speed.

 

Saturday's results

Baltimore Orioles 9-4 Boston Red Sox
Minnesota Twins 4-3 Kansas City Royals
Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 Tampa Bay Rays
Chicago White Sox 7-1 Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers 4-3 Chicago White Sox
Washington Nationals 10-7 Cleveland Indians
Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 San Francisco Giants
Philadelphia Phillies 9-3 Miami Marlins
New York Mets 3-0 Atlanta Braves
Chicago Cubs 8-6 St Louis Cardinals
Texas Rangers 9-4 New York Yankees
Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies 3-2 Milwaukee Brewers
Houston Astros 6-3 Los Angeles Angels
Oakland Athletics 1-0 Seattle Mariners
Cincinnati Reds 4-2 Pittsburgh Pirates

 

Brewers at Rockies

Sunday marks the last day of the regular season and there is a lot at stake. One of the biggest games will be a must-win contest for the Brewers. They trail the Cardinals by one game after losing on Saturday. A Brewers win along with a Cardinals loss will put the two teams in a tie for first place in the NL Central, which would force Game 163. That is not all. The Rays are hoping for a win of their own, and an A's loss, to force a tie-breaker to decide who gets home-field advantage for the American League wild-card game.

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