Angel Pagan’s solo homer gives Giants early lead over Cardinals in NLCS Game 2

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After dropping Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cardinals last night, the Giants are off to a quick start in Game 2.

Angel Pagan delivered a leadoff solo home run off Chris Carpenter in the bottom of the first inning to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. He also hit a leadoff homer in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Reds. He’s just the second player in MLB history to hit two leadoff homers in the same postseason, joining Jimmy Rollins in 2008.

Ryan Vogelsong ran into a little trouble in the top of the first, but managed to escape unscathed. The inning featured a brutal takeout slide by Matt Holliday, as he slid past the second base bag and barreled into second baseman Marco Scutaro in order to break up a potential double-play. It was a very scary-looking play and while second base umpire Greg Gibson didn’t make an issue of it, it appeared to be over the line. Fortunately for the Giants, Scutaro was OK and the Cardinals didn’t score.

MLB investigation confirms that the baseball has changed

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You know the baseballs are different. We know the baseballs are different. Pitchers have been saying the baseballs are different. And now Major League Baseball has acknowledged that the baseballs are different in a report of findings by a team of scientists from some of the top universities in the world, like Stanford, Caltech, and M.I.T.

You can read the whole thing here in PDF form. Here’s the gist …

The ball is not bouncier — or “juiced” — but it is most definitely carrying farther. From MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince …

Though the study did not discover meaningful changes in the ball’s lift, it found that the drag coefficient of MLB balls has decreased since 2015. The researchers used a physics model to calculate that if the change in home run rate was attributable entirely to changes in drag, one would expect the drag coefficient to have decreased by approximately 0.012. The exact change in drag coefficient in the time period studied — if you’re scoring at home — was 0.0153.

It’s not the seams or the core that has changed — those aspects were tested — and it’s not the weather either. In fact, the commision couldn’t figure out what is causing the decrease in drag, despite numerous tests on all elements of the ball. It might simply come down to manufacturing advancements. Looking at you, Rawlings …

“Rawlings is always trying to improve the manufacturing process to make it more uniform,” Alan Nathan, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told MLB.com. “So the interesting question that comes up is whether the goal should be to improve the manufacturing process or to keep the ball performing exactly the way it is, regardless of whether it’s improved or not.”

Baseball Prospectus began studying this three years ago, as home runs began to increase around the league. Their write-up on MLB’s report is a must-read.