Phillies take advantage of sloppy Reds, lead 2-0 in series

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Roy Oswalt was far from unhittable tonight. In fact, he gave up a home run to Brandon Phillips, the very first batter of the game. It’s all good, though, because the Reds forgot to bring their gloves to the ballpark.

The Reds matched a Division Series record with four errors, handing the Phillies to a 7-4 victory and a 2-0 advantage in the NLDS. You wouldn’t know it, but the Reds were tied with the Padres for the least errors in the league (72) during the regular season. Going further, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce are three of the finest defenders in all of baseball at their respective positions, yet they all committed errors tonight. Phillips, who went 3-for-4 and finished a triple short of the cycle, had two of them.

The Phillies will gladly take it, though. Just like Chase Utley took first base against Aroldis Chapman on a questionable hit-by-pitch call by home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman in the decisive three-run seventh inning. Utley barely reacted to the pitch, so we’re not talking about a Jeter situation here, but after the game, the second baseman was pretty candid with reporters, saying he wasn’t sure if he was actually hit with the ball. That’ll happen with a 102 mph fastball, I’m sure, but replays indicate they definitely caught a break. Again, the Phillies will gladly take it.

At least the Reds get to return home for Game 3 on Sunday, but they are staring elimination in the face. 

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.