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.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.