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Ryan Vogelsong holds Cardinals in check as Giants draw even in NLCS

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Coming into the postseason, most mentioned Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner as the reasons to fear the Giants’ starting rotation. And rightfully so. But Ryan Vogelsong has been their most effective starter thus far.

After allowing one run over five innings in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Reds last week, Vogelsong limited the Cardinals to one run over seven innings tonight as part of a 7-1 victory in Game 2 of the NLCS. In doing so, he became the first Giants’ pitcher to get through six innings this postseason. It was also the first time Vogelsong had completed seven innings in a start since August 8. Not a bad time to change that.

Aside from an RBI double by opposing pitcher Chris Carpenter in the second inning and a pair of doubles by the red-hot Carlos Beltran, Vogelsong held the Cardinals’ lineup in check. He allowed just four hits, two walks and a hit-by-pitch while striking out four.

The big difference in tonight’s ballgame was a four-run fourth inning against Chris Carpenter. The Giants broke a 1-1 tie when Brandon Crawford reached first base on a throwing error by Carpenter which allowed Brandon Belt to score. Marco Scutaro had the big hit, delivering a two-out, bases-loaded single to left field which was bobbled by Matt Holliday and resulted in three runs crossing the plate.

The Giants tacked on two more in the bottom of the eighth inning on a single by Ryan Theriot, who entered the game in the sixth inning when Marco Scutaro exited with a hip injury as a result of Holliday’s violent takeout slide. Not only was this the Giants’ first win at AT&T Park this postseason, but they scored more runs tonight than in their first three home games combined (six).

The NLCS is now tied 1-1 and will resume Wednesday afternoon in St. Louis. Matt Cain is scheduled to pitch for the Giants while Kyle Lohse will start for the Cardinals.

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.