Giants rally to defeat Cardinals in Game 4, take 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series

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Madison Bumgarner — the hottest starting pitcher remaining in this postseason — can pitch the Giants to the 2014 World Series with a victory in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night in San Francisco.

The Giants went down early in Game 4 of the NLCS Wednesday at AT&T Park, with Ryan Vogelsong surrendering four earned runs on seven hits while failing to make it past the top of the third inning.

But the home team chipped away for two runs on RBI singles from Buster Posey and Hunter Pence in the bottom of the third inning (to make the score 4-3) and then went ahead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning (mounting a lead of 6-4, also the final score) courtesy of some shoddy defense by Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams and yet another set of questionable managerial moves by skipper Mike Matheny.

The Cardinals had the same amount of hits (11) as the Giants in Game 4, including a double and a home run from the red-hot Kolten Wong, but St. Louis failed to capitalize on some early opportunities to put the game out of reach and Giants manager Bruce Bochy seems to be perpetually four steps ahead of his counterpart.

The Cardinals will need something special — and unlikely — from Adam Wainwright in Game 5.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.