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Holliday in lineup for Cards for Game 7 of NLCS

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Holliday in lineup for Cards for Game 7 of NLCS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Matt Holliday was back in the lineup for Game 7 of the NL championship series for the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night, a day after being a late scratch with tightness in his lower back.

Holliday was slated to hit third against Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants in the winner-take-all game for a trip to the World Series.

``They've been working on him nonstop,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ``He feels much better and we're confident that he's not just going to be out there, but be able to be productive.''

Holliday is just 4 for 21 with no extra-base hits and two RBIs in the series. He is hitting .222 with one homer and seven RBIs in 45 at-bats this postseason. Holliday missed Game 7 of the World Series a year ago with a wrist injury.

With Holliday starting, Matt Carpenter began the game on the bench despite being 5 for 6 with one homer and four RBIs in his career against Cain, including a homer in Game 3 in place of Carlos Beltran.

``Not a lot of places you can put him in the lineup,'' Matheny said. ``We've done this all season. He's been a great fill for whatever we need. But you started looking at him playing in the outfield in the corners and you've got Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran, and Allen Craig and David Freese on the corners in the infield. Those are guys that have all been valuable parts of our lineup.

``We don't deny what Matt's been able to do against Cain, but if anything does happen with any of our guys along the way, we've got a good option.''

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SUNNY SKIES: All that concern about a rainy Game 7 proved to be mostly unnecessary.

After a rainy night in San Francisco, the sun came out in the morning and both teams were able to take batting practice on the field before the game. A light drizzle fell briefly while the Cardinals took BP, but the game was set to start without a delay.

``It's good not to have that being an issue in a big game like this,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

The ground crew put the tarp on the field as soon as the Giants won Game 6 and the field was in good condition despite the overnight rainfall.

``This ground crew, they do a great job,'' Bochy said. ``If there were any issues with water you'd hear the machines going. As far as I know it's in great shape and all set to go.''

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GAME 7 HISTORY: This marked just the second Game 7 ever played in San Francisco.

The first one, coming a half-century ago, provided one of the most dramatic endings ever for a winner-take-all game in baseball's postseason.

With the New York Yankees protecting a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning at Candlestick Park, the Giants put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Willie McCovey then hit a screaming liner that second baseman Bobby Richardson grabbed to end the Series.

``It's been a few years, to put it mildly,'' former Giants first baseman Will Clark said. ``It's just the way things have gone. In `89 we had a Game 5, and in 2002 we had a Game 7 but it was in Anaheim. In 2010 we didn't get to a Game 7.''

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SAFE SCOOTING: Hunter Pence has been utilizing a most unusual form of transportation to get to and from the ballpark since joining the San Francisco Giants earlier this season.

Pence has been riding a motorized scooter through San Francisco's streets each day to get to work.

``Don't worry about it,'' he said of anyone concerned about his scooter riding. ``It's fun. It's relaxing. My mind is always clear. It's just a nice ride. I don't ride it in the street. I'm partially in the bike lane and partially on the sidewalk. I use the bike lane if it looks clear. It's 5 minutes on the scooter, six blocks.''

Bochy says the unconventional transportation is not a concern, saying injured closer Brian Wilson also does it.

``I really don't think about it, to be honest,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``I don't see him roll in. I've heard about it, but these guys are going to live their lives and you want them to have fun, as long as it's under control. I think he should be able to handle that.''

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AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

The Capitals found out who their opponent will be for the home opener on Oct. 3 and it's not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And you know what? That's OK. Winning the Stanley Cup was awesome and the banner raising will be an incredible scene regardless. 

Plus, the Penguins need that night off because they have to get ready for their own home opener on Oct. 4 against...the Caps?

Wait, what?

In 2016, the Capitals were in attendance as the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner. That had to sting considering Pittsburgh eliminated Washington in the playoffs.

It has not become a tradition to make rivals watch as teams raise banners and there's nothing that said the NHL had to schedule the Penguins for Washington's home opener. But it does seem odd that the NHL is going to make the defending Stanley Cup champions play a back-to-back right out of the gate with the second end coming against their archrivals in Pittsburgh.

Hey Caps, it's the NHL here. Congrats again. Vegas is a hell of a city, am I right? So, listen...we thought about it and decided you won't get to raise your banner against your rivals. Sorry about that. We tried and we couldn't get them for your first game. Good news though, we moved it all the way up to the second game, we just couldn't get it any sooner than that. You'll be playing them the second game of the season...the night after your home opener...in Pittsburgh...for their home opener. Anyway, good luck on the repeat.

Makes sense.

Look, if Washington can't have Pittsburgh for the home opener fine. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal. Raising the banner will be special regardless of who the opponent will be. But don't turn around and make the Caps play in the Penguins' home opener the very next day.

The schedule makers did the Caps no favors with this one.

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