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.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.