Bronson Arroyo baffles Giants as Reds cruise to 2-0 series lead

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After 13 years in the bigs, Bronson Arroyo finally has a postseason victory to his credit. He was nearly perfect for seven innings Sunday in combining with two relievers on a two-hit shutout as the Reds topped the Giants 9-0.

The Reds will take a 2-0 series lead with them as they go home for the remainder of the NLDS.

Arroyo retired 14 in a row to start the game before Brandon Belt singled with two outs in the fifth. It proved to be the only hit Arroyo would allow through seven innings. Arroyo remained in to bat in the top of the eighth, but he was removed after the Reds scored five times in the frame, upping their lead from four runs to nine.

J.J. Hoover took over for Arroyo and pitched a hitless eighth. Jose Arredondo gave up a Pablo Sandoval double and a walk before closing out the ninth.

The outing lowered Arroyo’s postseason ERA from 6.04 to 4.60. He had previously made three starts and eight relief appearances in October, but only one of those — a no-decision against the Phillies in the 2010 NLDS — came in his seven years with the Reds.

Cincinnati took an early lead tonight on Ryan Ludwick’s second-inning solo homer and kept the pressure on Madison Bumgarner with four singles in a three-run fourth. Tim Lincecum was able to quiet the Reds in his third ever relief appearance, working scoreless sixth and seventh innings. However, the Reds put the game away when they batted around in the eighth.

The Giants announced earlier Sunday that they’ll throw Ryan Vogelsong when the series resumes Tuesday in Cincinnati. The Reds have Homer Bailey listed as their starter, and with the 2-0 lead, it’s become more likely that they’ll go that route. The alternative would be to bring back Johnny Cueto after he left Saturday’s game in the first inning with back spasms.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.