Louisville and Pittsburgh pulled off an offseason blockbuster as the Long Rifles acquired ace Corey Kluber from the rebuilding Cobras.
Kluber won 49 games over four seasons with Pittsburgh, totaling 933 strikeouts with an ERA in the mid-3s each year.
Louisville paid a hefty price in future assets, surrendering pitching prospects Riley Pint and Matt Manning along with its first- and second-round picks in the upcoming draft (Nos. 8 and 28) and London’s first-rounder in 2019.
Matt Carpenter broke a ninth-inning tie with a two-run home run and Zach Britton induced three ground ball outs in the bottom half as the Chicago Cardinals earned a 4-2 victory over Dublin in Game 6 to win their sixth PGBL World Series Championship.
Britton, who saved Chicago’s first three wins and did not allow a run in the series, struck out two in two innings for the victory and was named the MVP.
The Cardinals were held scoreless into the eighth inning by Guinness starter Marcus Stroman until Carpenter’s two-out homer cut Dublin’s lead to 2-1. After Mike Trout reached on a Stroman error, Kenley Jansen walked three straight batters to force in the tying run.
In the ninth, Giancarlo Stanton hit a one-out double off Brad Hand and Carpenter sent a 2-0 pitch over the center field wall to give Chicago the lead.
The Cardinals built a 3-0 series lead before Dublin won Games 4 and 5 on the road to send the series back to Wrigley Field.
Two division championships and the No. 1 overall postseason seed have come down to a pair of dramatic head-to-head, season-ending series.
While Confederate Division powers Dublin and Memphis renew acquaintences with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs on the line, Maple Leaf rivals Calgary and Vancouver meet to settle their tight season-long battle.
The red-hot Melee have reeled off 14 straight wins – going 27-3 without a day off in September – to pull within a game of first as the Guinness come to town for a four-game set.
Now the two teams square off in a finishing sprint to 120 wins for the division crown and the South League’s top seed. The Melee will overtake Dublin if they win the series, but the Guinness will remain in front with a split or better.
The Confederate winner will open the best-of-five Division Series at home against Flagstaff, while the loser will travel to Cactus Division champ Tijuana for the first round despite having a better record.
In the North League, the Wildcats and Roughnecks are tied atop the standings at 90-58 entering their four-game series in Vancouver. Whichever team prevails will be home for the first round as the league’s No. 2 seed behind Chicago.
However, neither team has safely clinched a wildcard berth yet – meaning a sweep could put the loser in jeopardy of missing the playoffs entirely.
Boston currently holds the second wildcard spot, just one game behind the Maple Leaf combatants – and one ahead of Cleveland. The Tribe, who host Pittsburgh while the Braves welcome Ottawa, could leapfrog into a wildcard with a sweep of the Argonauts.
LAS VEGAS – Ryon Healy drilled a walkoff grand slam for his second homer in the final two innings as the South League halted its seven-year All-Star Game skid with a thrilling 9-5 victory at Citi Field.
Healy, the Memphis designated hitter selected as the final reserve on the SL roster, followed Mookie Betts’ tying double and an intentional walk to Matt Wieters by driving a 1-2 pitch from Dellin Betances over the left field wall.
An inning earlier, Healy led off by driving Nate Jones’ first pitch out to left after the North broke a 3-3 tie in the top half against Cam Bedrosian on Daniel Murphy’s RBI double and a sacrifice fly by Kris Bryant.
Trea Turner started the SL ninth by beating out a grounder to second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Betances relieved Jones and Luis Valbuena coaxed a walk after fouling off a 2-2 offering. Betts then lined a double to the left field gap, scoring Turner and setting the stage for Healy.
The slam earned a win for Kenley Jansen, who struck out three of the four batters he faced after the SL registered just four strikeouts in the first eight innings. Betances suffered his second All-Star loss in three years, one with each side.
Betts scored three times for the South, coming home on a Jon Lester wild pitch in a two-run first and on a Gary Sanchez double off Corey Kluber in the third that made it 3-1. The NL pulled even on solo homers by Yoenis Cespedes off Chris Devenski in the fourth and Josh Donaldson off Addison Reed in the seventh.
Healy became the first Melee to claim MVP honors as the South won its first All-Star game since since 2009 and improved to 7-9 overall. Toronto will host the 2018 All-Star Game at Nationals Park.
The PGBL Trade Deadline is just a few weeks away (February 18), and several teams have made an early start filling out their rosters to make a push for the playoffs.
Tijuana has been the most aggressive, swinging a couple of blockbuster deals to bolster its lineup with the addition of Joey Votto and Chris Archer. The Tequila Swiggers recent moves have paid off, with the team jumping to first in the Cactus Division.
This past week, Tijuana traded young talent in Brandon Finnegan, Francis Martes, Luiz Gohara, and a bevy of picks to Compton for right hander Chris Archer. Archer made an immediate impression, going seven scoreless innings in Tijuana’s 8-0 rout of Pittsburgh.
Vancouver has also been busy on the trade front, adding a number of pieces, including help for its bullpen in the form of A.J. Ramos, and bats Hyun Soo Kim and Jordy Mercer in a deal with Twin Cities. The Wildcats recent moves has them sitting atop of the Maple Leaf Division.