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.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.