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Conor Gillaspie’s three-run homer in the ninth inning sends Giants to the NLDS


Even year — ahem — magic is alive and well as Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie‘s three-run home run in the top of the ninth¬†inning off of Mets closer Jeurys Familia broke a scoreless tie and helped send his team to the NLDS against the Cubs.

Starters Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard traded zeroes for seven innings as the pitcher’s duel unfolded exactly as expected. Syndergaard brought a no-hitter nearly through the sixth inning, but Denard Span broke it up with a well-struck single to center field. It was one of only two hits Syndergaard would allow on the evening along with three walks and 10 strikeouts on 108 pitches over seven innings. Addison Reed worked a scoreless eighth before giving way to Familia in the ninth.

Bumgarner, meanwhile, skated through the first three innings on a total of 21 pitches. While the Mets would become more selective at the dish, it didn’t amount to much. Through eight innings, Bumgarner limited them to four hits and a pair of walks with six strikeouts on 106 pitches.

In the top of the ninth against Familia, Brandon Crawford led off with a double to left-center. Joe Panik walked to bring Gillaspie to the plate. Gillaspie took a 96 MPH sinker for a strike and a 96 MPH sinker for a ball, then blasted a 96 MPH sinker to right-center, clearing the fence by plenty to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.

There was no chance Bumgarner was coming out once the Giants took the lead in the ninth, unless manager Bruce Bochy wanted to get punched to the moon. Bumgarner got Yoenis Cespedes to fly out to right field, Curtis Granderson to fly out to left field, and T.J. Rivera to fly out to right-center to end the game.

Bumgarner’s postseason brilliance continues. He now has a 1.94 ERA with an 83/17 K/BB ratio in 97 1/3 career postseason innings.

If there was one person without a particular allegiance to the Giants happy about Gillaspie’s home run, it’s probably Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Showalter was criticized heavily for refusing to bring closer Zach Britton into Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card game, a game which the Orioles lost on a walk-off three-run home run by Edwin Encarnacion. Well, Mets manager Terry Collins used his closer and he ended losing on a walk-off three-run homer anyway.

The Giants will head to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs in the NLDS which begins on Friday at 9:00 PM EDT.

Danny Duffy exits spring training game with left shoulder tightness

Danny Duffy
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Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.

The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.

The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.