<span class="vcard">Bill Baer</span>

Nori Aoki
AP Photo/LM Otero

Giants plan to pick up Nori Aoki’s $5.5 million option

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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Giants are planning to pick up Nori Aoki‘s $5.5 million option for the 2016 season. That, of course, will be the case as long as Aoki makes progress from the concussion he suffered when he was hit in the head by a Jake Arrieta pitch in August.

Aoki, who turns 34 in January, finished the season with a .287/.353/.380 triple-slash line, five home runs, 26 RBI, and 14 stolen bases in 392 plate appearances. He last started a game on August 31, making only two pinch-hit appearances in early September before the Giants shut him down for the remainder of the season.

Video: Daniel Murphy sets Mets record with fifth post-season home run

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Daniel Murphy sent the Mets to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning when he belted a two-run home run just inside the foul pole down the right field line against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. Murphy now has five post-season home runs, setting a new Mets record.

Murphy has also homered in four consecutive playoff games. If he were to homer in Game 3 of the NLCS on Tuesday, he would tie Carlos Beltran‘s record set in 2004 with the Astros.

Three of Murphy’s playoff home runs have come against NL Cy Young contenders. He homered against Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the NLDS and again in Game 4, then went yard off of Zack Greinke for the deciding run in Game 5’s clincher, and took Arrieta deep on Sunday night in Game 2 of the NLCS.

Daniel Murphy powers Mets to take 2-0 NLCS lead over the Cubs

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

An early rally by the offense, headlined by Daniel Murphy, and strong pitching by Noah Syndergaard into the sixth inning led to a 4-1 victory by the Mets over the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS at Citi Field on Sunday night. The Mets now hold a comfortable 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Cubs starter Jake Arrieta allowed three runs to the Mets in the bottom of the first inning before he was able to record an out. Curtis Granderson hit a line drive past the shift on the right side and David Wright promptly drove him in with a deep double to right-center. Murphy put an exclamation point on the inning when he snuck a line drive inside the foul pole down the right field line, staking the Mets to a 3-0 lead. The home run if Murphy’s fifth of this post-season, setting a Mets record. He’s gone yard in four consecutive playoff games, one shy of Carlos Beltran‘s record set with the Astros in 2004.

Granderson saved a run on Syndergaard’s behalf when he robbed Chris Coghlan of a home run in the second inning. Shortly thereafter, he manufactured a run with his legs in the third inning after leading off with a walk. David Wright struck out, but Granderson moved himself into scoring position by stealing second base. Cubs manager Joe Maddon opted to intentionally walk the red-hot Murphy. With Yoenis Cespedes batting, Granderson swiped third base. Cespedes followed up with a ground ball in the hole between third base and shortstop, reaching safely when Javier Baez was unable to make a play. Granderson scored easily to make it 4-0.

Arrieta lasted five innings, serving up four runs on four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

Syndergaard was humming along until the sixth. Dexter Fowler singled and advanced to second base on a wild pitch with one out, then came home on a well-struck two-out double to left field by Kris Bryant. That ended Syndergaard’s shutout and his night; lefty Jon Niese entered and struck out Anthony Rizzo to escape the frame. Syndergaard finished having allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Addison Reed worked a perfect seventh inning for the Mets. Tyler Clippard worked around a two-out Fowler single to finish the eighth. Closer Jeurys Familia, whose availability was in question until late Sunday afternoon, worked around a one-out infield single by Rizzo, getting Starlin Castro to ground out to shortstop and Coghlan tapped out on a grounder to first base.

The Mets and Cubs will have a day off on Monday with which to travel to Chicago. The NLCS resumes on Tuesday at 8:00 PM EDT with Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom starting against Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks.

Royals tab Chris Young to start ALCS Game 4

Kansas City Royals pitcher Chris Young throws during the third inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals have tabbed Chris Young to start Game 4 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays. Kris Medlen had drawn some consideration for the start.

Young, 36, pitched four innings in relief of Yordano Ventura in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Astros. He allowed a run on three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. During the regular season, Young posted a 3.06 ERA with an 83/43 K/BB ratio over 123 1/3 innings spanning 18 starts and 16 relief appearances.

Video: Curtis Granderson leaps to rob Chris Coghlan of a home run

Curtis Granderson
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Everything’s coming up Mets early in NLCS Game 2. They hung a three-spot on NL Cy Young Award candidate Jake Arrieta in the first inning. In the top of the second, Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan tried to create a little momentum for his team, sending a Noah Syndergaard 0-2 fastball to deep right-center.

The fly ball just barely had home run distance and would have cut the Cubs’ deficit to 3-1, but Granderson jumped in front of the Citi Field fence and snagged the ball for the second out of the inning.