Yadier Molina’s absence felt immediately as Giants take lead in the seventh inning

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Update: Just as this post went up, pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras lined a home run down the right field line to bring the Cardinals back into a tie at 3-3.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina exited Game 2 of the NLCS in the bottom of the sixth inning due to a strained left oblique, and his absence was felt immediately in the top of the seventh inning. Back-up catcher Tony Cruz took over behind the plate for Molina.

Brandon Crawford led off with a walk against lefty Randy Choate. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny took Choate out in favor of right-hander Carlos Martinez. Cruz couldn’t handle a Martinez offering as the ball skipped away and allowed Crawford to advance to second.

Following that, pinch-hitter Mike Morse broke his bat on a ground ball in the hole between shortstop and third base. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta may have had a force play at second base had Crawford not advanced on the passed ball. Instead, he held onto the ball and the Giants had runners on first and second with no outs. Juan Perez then bunted the two runners over to second and third base to bring up Gregor Blanco. Blanco singled to right field, scoring Crawford to break the 2-2 tie. That was the extent of the damage, as Martinez retired Joe Panik and Buster Posey each on fly balls.

Giants reliever Jean Machi is on the hill in the seventh inning as they attempt to get the final nine outs while holding into their lead to go up 2-0 in the NLCS over the Cardinals.

Mike Leake loses perfect game bid on leadoff single in the ninth

Mike Leake
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Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.

It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.

The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.

In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.

Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.