Michael Wacha hands 1-0 lead over to Cardinals’ bullpen after stellar start in Game 2 of NLCS

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Cardinals starter Michael Wacha dazzled, shutting the Dodgers out over six and two-thirds innings. He allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out eight, escaping jams in the fifth and sixth innings before giving way to the bullpen with two outs in the seventh.

Wacha retired the first two batters he faced, but his pitch count ran close to 110 as Nick Punto stepped to the plate. Punto singled on an 0-2 ground ball to center, ending Wacha’s evening. Matheny went to the mound and brought in lefty Kevin Siegrist. Siegrist uncorked two wild pitches, allowing Punto to advance from first to third, but he got Michael Young to end an eight-pitch at-bat with a lazy fly ball to right field.

Including his Game 4 start against the Pirates in the NLDS, Wacha has allowed just one run in 14 post-season innings, striking out 17 while walking just three. Not bad for a 22-year-old.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.