And That Happened: Division Series Edition

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Phillies 2, Reds 0
As advertised. Ugly games like Friday’s happen from time to time, but a
no-hitter and a two-hit shutout in the other two pretty much mean that
the “no one can stop the Phillies dominant pitching” narrative is a
sound one.  The Phillies used relievers for only four innings this
series. Brandon Phillips was the only Reds hitter who had a clue. Philly now waits to see which offensively-challenged team
from the other series emerges as the lamb for what is almost certain to
be an NLCS slaughter.

Giants 3, Braves 2:  I can’t even revisit this. My recap, of sorts, is here. My take on who’s to blame here. The question for Braves fans is whether this one is harder to take than the Leyrtiz game from the 1996 World series. My personal take is the Leyritz game was worse because (a) that Braves team was much, much better; (b) a win there meant that the World Series win was almost assured; and (c) I was a hell of a lot younger then and took the results of sporting events harder than I do now.  That last one is highly subjective, of course, so I will allow for the possibility that last night was the Braves’ version of the Buckner game and it will stick with a wide swath of Braves fans forever or something close to it.

Rays 5, Rangers 2: While no game in this series has been particularly
interesting, the overall dynamic of the Rays getting up off the mat to
even things up certainly is.  David Price vs. Cliff Lee in Game 5 on
Tuesday? Yes, please.

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.