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 Trout voted 2019 American League Most Valuable Player

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The Baseball Writers Association of America voted Angels outfielder Mike Trout the Most Valuable Player in the American League for the 2019 season. He received 17 of 30 first-place votes, earning the third AL MVP Award of his career.

Trout, 28, missed the final three weeks of the season due to a foot injury, but his numbers were still strong enough to overcome the competition. He led the majors with a .438 on-base percentage and a 185 adjusted OPS, and led the AL with a .645 slugging percentage and 1.083 OPS. He also slugged 45 home runs, knocked in 104 runs, scored 110 runs, and stole 11 bases in 600 plate appearances. FanGraphs also gave him an edge over the competition in WAR at 8.6.

Trout, who also won the award in 2014 and ’16, is the third Angel to snag the hardware, joining Don Baylor (1979) and Vladimir Guerrero Sr. (2004). He is the 11th player to win three MVP awards, joining Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Álex Rodríguez, Stan Musial, Roy Campanella, Mike Schmidt, Albert Pujols, and Barry Bonds. Bonds is the only player to have won the award more than three times, winning a whopping seven MVP awards.

Alex Bregman finished in a close second place followed by Marcus  Semien, DJ LeMahieu, and Xander Bogaerts. Also receiving votes were Matt Chapman, George Springer, Mookie Betts, Nelson Cruz, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Rafael Devers, Jorge Polanco, Austin Meadows, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Gleyber Torres, Eddie Rosario, José Abreu, Max Kepler, J.D. Martinez, Yoán Moncada, Charlie Morton, Matt Olson, and Jorge Soler.