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Giants take Game 2, down Cardinals 7-1

Ryan Vogelsong was fantastic, and the Giants hit the Cardinals early to take Game 2 and even the series.

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Revisiting the rules on takeout slides

What's acceptable when a runner is trying to break up a double play? Matt Holliday used a sharpened toothbrush handle to shank Marco Scutaro in Game 2, so let's take a look.


Vogelsong's pitching carries the Giants in Game 2

The San Francisco Giants finally got an outstanding performance from one of their starting pitchers, as Ryan Vogelsong pitched seven fine innings to help beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 in Game 2, evening the National League Championship Series.


Giants add on, stretch lead over Cards to 7-1

The Giants did most of their scoring in the fourth inning, but they've had chances since then. They had runners on in the fifth ... nothing. They had a leadoff double in the sixth ... nothing. In the seventh, they really had nothing, as rookie Shelby Miller shut them down, and he started the eighth.

And in the eighth inning, the Giants got another rally going. Gregor Blanco drew a leadoff walk, and he had designs on taking third on a Brandon Crawford line drive, but Jon Jay made a great catch in center:

Allen Craig did actually tag him on the shoulder to complete the double play, but, well, huh. Can't have an umpire in the press box taking a few seconds to check that out. It'd take too long.

Things got furry for Miller after that. Aubrey Huff singled on a pop-up that should have been caught, but it fell between Pete Kozma and Matt Holliday. Again. Angel Pagan singled to load the bases and Ryan Theriot -- the ex-Cardinal in for the injured Marco Scutaro -- singled into the gap to score two. That's four combined RBI for two different Giants second basemen on the night.

Sergio Romo is in to protect a six-run lead for whatever reason. Hey, off day tomorrow!


Bullpens rule again, Giants still lead 5-1 in 8th

Ryan Vogelsong is out of the game. Nobody is complaining, though.

Vogelsong, who gave up just one run in his seven innings and was finally pulled after throwing 106 pitches, is the first Giant in this postseason to post a Quality Start. In the bottom of the seventh, Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller kept the Giants off the scoreboard once more; they haven't scored since the fourth inning.

In that regard, this game is looking a lot like Game 1, in which the bullpens took over and nobody scored at all after the fourth inning. The difference is that the Cardinals took the early lead in Game 2, but this time the Giants went ahead early.

Now it's the top of the eighth, and Bruce Bochy is turning first, as he so often does to left-hander Jeremy Affeldt. He and whoever follows will be trying to protect the Giants' 3-1 lead, and even this series at one apiece.


Giants still up 5-1, waste Vogelsong double

In the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Vogelsong hit for himself. He's been pitching a stellar game, but he was also at 91 pitches, so there was at least some question as to whether he'd hit for himself:

Jon Jay threw his glove at it (lol), but Vogelsong cruised into second with an easy double, tying him with Chris Carpenter for doubles on the night.

It was for naught, though, as after Angel Pagan moved him to third with one out, Ryan Theriot hit a fly ball too shallow for Vogelsong to tag, and Pablo Sandoval chased a horrific pitch for strike three, and the rally ended.

But at least Jay gave us a GIF.

There's some sobering news from the Giants' side, though, as Marco Scutaro was removed from the game and is having x-rays on his hip after Matt Holliday demolished him at second base.


Kozma's circus play keeps Giants off board in 5th

With Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter out of the game after only four innings (and five runs), right-hander Joe Kelly took over in the bottom of the fifth.

Kelly preserved the Cardinals' four-run deficit, but it sure wasn't easy as the Giants seem to have finally found their home hitting sticks.

Buster Posey led off with a hit to right field, but was forced at second when Hunter Pence rapped into a fielder's choice. Brandon Belt singled, too, with Pence stopping at second. Gregor Blanco bounced a grounder to Allen Craig at first base; he had time to force Belt, but no more, leaving the Giants with runners at the corner with two outs.

Next up, Brandon Crawford picked on Kelly's first pitch and sent a laser toward left field but ...


Nice catch, Rook.

When the Giants took the field in the top of the sixth, Marco Scutaro was missing. He'd collected a couple of hits since Matt Holliday barreled into him in the first inning, but apparently the injury finally got to be too much, and Ryan Theriot has taken over at second base.


Marco's revenge: Giants open up 5-1 lead

In the first inning, former five-star football recruit Matt Holliday slid late at second base, taking out former five-star equestrian recruit Marco Scutaro. I figured Scutaro's 2013 was over, much less his postseason. But he got up and dusted himself off, no worse for wear, apparently.

Remember that aside.

Chris Carpenter got through the bottom of the third by throwing 11 pitches. Ryan Vogelsong got through the top of the fourth with 10 pitches. So it was going to be like that.

In the bottom of the fourth, though, the Giants got to Carpenter. Brandon Belt hit a looping double down the left-field line, and he advanced to second on a Baltimore chop that Gregor Blanco hit over a drawn-in David Freese. That brought up Brandon Crawford, who hit a chopper that was going to be too weak for a play at the plate, but the Cardinals couldn't get the out at first, either:

The error scored Belt, and it allowed Vogelsong to bunt the runners to second and third in his at-bat. A walk to Angel Pagan brought up the aforementioned Scutaro with the bases loaded. Who probably really, really wanted to hit the baseball.

A Disney exec would have had the screenwriter start over because that's a little too on the nose. Scutaro cleared the bases with the help of Holliday's error, and the Giants took a 5-1 lead into the fifth inning.


Uneventful 3rd leaves Cards and Giants still 1-1

With both starters settling down some, Game 2 of the NLCS is still tied 1-1 after three innings.

In the bottom of the third, Pablo Sandoval drove a hot grounder down the first-base line for a two-out single -- Carlos Beltran played the carom perfectly -- but the inning ended when Buster Posey hit a sharp grounder to Pete Kozma, who flipped to Daniel Descalso for the easy fielder's choice.

Neither Chris Carpenter nor Ryan Vogelsong has been economical with his pitches, but Carpenter's in better shape through the first three frames. While he's thrown 47 pitches, Vogelsong's already thrown 58, and will be hard-pressed to turn in the Giants' first Quality Start of this postseason.


Chris Carpenter helps himself, Cards tie game, 1-1

Ryan Vogelsong looks sharp in the early innings. There's a difference between sharp Vogelsong and hittable Vogelsong -- there's a snap to his two-seamer and knee-high control when he's right. When he walks someone when he's right, it's usually on a stubborn pitch just out of the zone.

Pete Kozma walked in such an at-bat, with Vogelsong missing by a hair on consecutive two-strike pitches. Vogelsong didn't want to let Rogers Kozma get a good swing off on a pitch up, so he teased. It's what Vogelsong does. Occasionally, he gets burned.

He got burned. Vogelsong didn't have the same care with his opposing number, Chris Carpenter, who roped a double to score Kozma all the way from first.

Vogelsong got Jon Jay to pop up to center to end the inning.

In the bottom of the second, Carpenter got Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford, and Vogelsong in order, and the two teams head into the third with a 1-1- tie.


Giants ahead 1-0 on Angel Pagan's 1st-inning homer

In the top of the first inning, Ryan Vogelsong got himself into a jam, then got himself out of it.

In the bottom of the first, Chris Carpenter didn't bother with the getting-into part of the jam; he just went ahead and gave up a leadoff home run to Angel Pagan, who drove Carpenter's fourth pitch, a high fastball, over the tall barrier beyond right field.


Marco Scutaro, who nearly had his legs snapped in half by Matt Holliday in the top of the inning, came up next and drilled a single. But Carpenter got it together, retiring both Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey on foul pops before walking Hunter Pence. Finally, the threat ended when Brandon Belt -- after taking a couple of very close pitches for strikes -- hit an easy grounder to Daniel Descalsco.

Both starter have been shaky early on, but there's been just one run: Giants 1, Cardinals 0 after one inning.


Matt Holliday tries to kill Marco Scutaro

In this writer's humble opinion, there should not be room in the Great Game of Baseball for this sort of thing:


It's one thing to slide into the base with great gusto, hoping to make the second baseman's life just a bit more difficult than usual. It's another thing to endanger his life.

Yes, this writer is exaggerating. But while it's certainly baseball -- at least according to the umpire on the scene -- it's not good baseball, you know?

That would have been an inning-ending, rally-killing double play, but instead the throw was just a hair late. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong did escape the inning, though, when Yadier Molina hit a slow roller to Pete Kozma at shortstop.

The first inning couldn't have been otherwise-encouraging to the Giants, though. They're looking for their first Quality Start in this postseason, and Vogelsong gave up two hits and a line drive that nearly reached the warning track in straightaway center field.

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