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Nationals take 2-0 lead in NLCS with 3-1 win over Cardinals

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Backed by six no-hit innings from Max Scherzer and several well-placed hits from Michael Taylor and Adam Eaton, the Nationals defeated the Cardinals 3-1 during Game 2 of the NLCS. With the win, Washington advanced to a two-game lead in the series, with just two more wins needed to qualify for the World Series.

Max Scherzer started the game strong with six hitless innings, allowing just two walks and striking out 10 of the first 20 batters he faced. According to Elias Sports and MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, he became the first pitcher to register five separate no-hit attempts of 5+ innings in the postseason. He lost the attempt in the top of the seventh, however, as Paul Goldschmidt picked up a slider and returned it to left field for the Cardinals’ first hit of the afternoon.

Despite losing a second consecutive no-hit attempt, the Nationals managed to stay one step ahead of the Cardinals. Michael A. Taylor belted a first-pitch, leadoff home run off of Adam Wainwright in the third for an early lead, and Adam Eaton supplied a two-run double in the eighth to give the club some extra support. That came in handy as José Martínez caused some trouble for Sean Doolittle in the bottom of the inning, delivering a two-out, two-run double to snap the Cardinals’ scoreless streak and bring them within a couple runs of tying the game.

They didn’t quite get there in the end. Patrick Corbin and Daniel Hudson worked in tandem to retire the side in the ninth and capture the Nationals’ second straight win of the series. Per MLB Stats, the win cemented the Nationals’ status as the first NL team to give up three or fewer hits in back-to-back postseason games since the Reds held the Giants to five collective hits in Games 2 and 3 of the 2012 NLDS.

The tide could still shift in the Cardinals’ favor on Monday night, when the series will move to Nationals Park for Games 3 and 4 (and a potential Game 5, if the Cardinals can avoid a sweep). They’ll send right-hander Jack Flaherty up against fellow righty Stephen Strasburg at 7:38 PM EDT.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).