16hDavid Schoenfield

Monday's Top 5: A day of big bats

Oh, just another day with four playoff games, hours upon hours of hours of baseball excitement, and plenty of offense.

Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images

Padilla: Royals shock Astros to force a Game 5

Facing a four-run deficit with six outs left in their season, the Royals rallied for five runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to stun the Astros with a 9-6 win in Game 4 to stave off elimination.

USA TODAY Sports, Getty Images

Caple: Blue Jays hold nothing back to return to Toronto

With their backs against the wall, the Blue Jays came out swinging in their 8-4 Game 4 win against the Rangers. But by pulling R.A. Dickey early for ace David Price, did they handicap their chances of winning Game 5?

1dBuster Olney

MLB sends message with Utley suspension

MLB's suspension of Chase Utley is a message that it wants to get rid of plays in which baserunners go out of their way to crash into fielders.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

California bans tobacco in stadiums under new law

California lawmakers have taken the first step toward accomplishing something Major League Baseball could never do on its own: Stop players from using smokeless tobacco.


Cubs give Hammel early hook

Cubs starter Jason Hammel is out of the game in the 4th inning after allowing a leadoff walk to Jhonny Peralta. Justin Grimm is now in, looking to preserve Chicago's 4-2 lead over St. Louis. Follow live

Baez breaks up Lackey's streak

Prior to allowing a HR to Javier Baez, John Lackey had not allowed a homer in his last 74 2/3 postseason innings. It's the longest homerless streak in postseason play by a pitcher who was primarily a starter since Whitey Ford (82 1/3) from 1956 to 1962. (via Elias)


Youth bringing big bats for Cubs

With Javier Baez's dinger, Chicago is the first team in postseason history to have four different players, age 23 or younger, homer in a single postseason.


Mark Saxon ESPN Staff Writer 

J.P. Howell said the dodgers aren't thinking about anything but the first pitch and getting the series back to L.A.


Jerry Crasnick ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer 

Astros manager A.J. Hinch played it coy today when asked if staff ace Dallas Keuchel could pitch in relief in Game 5 of the ALDS. "I'm going to have all hands on deck," Hinch said. "We know it's a win-or-go-home game. Whether or not Keuchel is available or what the plan is, we'll have to tune in tomorrow night to find out.'' Keuchel threw 124 pitches in a 4-2 win over the Royals Sunday.

Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs

Starting SS can't start cause of an injury and back-up hits a 3 run shot in first AB of the day. Depth upon depth here

Cubs storm into lead in second inning

After allowing two runs in the first, Jason Hammel helped himself out with an RBI single. Then Javier Baez put Chicago in the lead with a three-run homer -- his first postseason HR. The Cubs lead 4-2. Follow live

Piscotty makes early splash for Cards

Stephen Piscotty became the first Cardinal with three HRs in his first four postseason games and soaked some Cubs fans in the process. St. Louis leads 2-0 in the second inning. Follow live


Cano underwent surgery on Tuesday

The Mariners 2B had a procedure to repair a right side and a left side core muscle injury, the team announced. He will need six weeks of recovery time and will likely return at full pace by the start of spring training in February.

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Jesse Rogers ESPN Staff Writer 

Cubs starter Jason Hammel gives up a 2 run HR in the first inning. It's by far his worst inning as he had a 5.23 regular season ERA in first innings this year. Cubs trail early.

Cardinals strike early in Game 4

With its back against the wall, St. Louis jumped on Chicago starter Jason Hammel when Stephen Piscotty launched his third home run of the postseason, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. Follow live

Cardinals at Cubs in Game 4 of NLDS

Chicago sends Jason Hammel to the mound in search of its first NLCS appearance since 2003. St. Louis counters with John Lackey, who tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings in the Cardinals' Game 1 win, their only win of the series. Follow live

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Eddie Matz ESPN Senior Writer 

The Cardinals are getting max ROI from John Lackey. Thanks to a leftover contract quirk from his time in Boston, the 14-year vet - who led St. Louis in starts and innings and will pitch on 3 days rest today - has a base salary of just 507K. The clause called for Lackey, who earned $15.3 million last year, to revert to league minimum in 2015 because he missed all of 2012 after Tommy John surgery.

Gordon Edes ESPN Staff Writer 

Jose Bautista is not napping, he's stretching

Jayson Stark Senior Writer, ESPN.com 

Rob Manfred says at Wrigley that protecting infielders is "high on our radar screen" but a rule will be challenging to word. "I think the way we had to work through the home-plate situation gives you a feel for how difficult it is to write that kind of rule."

Chipper: Utley's slide was 'out of bounds'

Former Braves 3B Chipper Jones said of Chase Utley's controversial slide in Game 2 of the NLDS: "Quite frankly it was a little unnecessary to be honest with you. ... When you go airborne to get a guy, to me that's out of bounds."


Doug Padilla ESPN Staff Writer 

Royals catcher Salvador Perez said he underwent a concussion test after getting hit in the mask by a foul ball in Monday's game. He passed the test and said he will be starting in the deciding Game 5 of the ALDS on Wednesday against the Astros. Perez watched his team's eighth-inning rally Monday from the trainer's room with ice packs around the back of his neck.

Molina scratched from Game 4 lineup

After initially being listed as a starter, Yadier Molina was scratched and Tony Cruz will take his place for the Cardinals. Molina was pulled from Monday's game and missed the end of the regular season with a strained ligament in his left thumb.

Wayne Drehs ESPN Senior Writer 

Lifelong Cub fan Joe Howard, 25, went all Doc Brown for his game day garb. Howard grew up a Cub fan despite his older brother loving the White Sox. "As a kid I waited for a day like today. Now that it's here, I had to go all out and bring it," Howard said.

Gordon Edes ESPN Staff Writer 

Calm before the storm. Toronto manager John Gibbons relaxes during Jays optional workout

AL pennant odds have Toronto as favorite

From Westgate Las Vegas:

  • Toronto: 13-10
  • Kansas City: 2-1
  • Texas: 9-2
  • Houston: 5-1

AP Photo/LM Otero