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.

Miguel Cabrera has two herniated discs in his back

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Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera underwent an MRI which revealed two herniated discs in his back, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. With six games remaining in the season, if Cabrera plays again, it will be as a designated hitter.

The back issues shed a lot of light on Cabrera’s uncharacteristically subpar season. He’s batting .249/.329/.399 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI in 529 plate appearances this season. He carries an adjusted OPS of 92, which is eight points below the league average and 14 points below his previous career low set in 2003 with the Marlins.

Cabrera, 34, is signed through 2023 and is owed a minimum of $192 million through the end of his contract.

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

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No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only by showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but by actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.