In Game 2, Giants looked like ... the Giants

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In Game 2, Giants looked like ... the Giants

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Bizarro Series settled down Monday night, to the great relief of all San Francisco Giants, most of all Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti.

And they can pin all their newfound zen on Ryan Vogelsong, who in guiding them to a stunningly routine 7-1 win over St. Louis in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, reminded them what Giant starting pitchers used to do back in the olden days.

Specifically:

Throw 100 pitches (106, to be precise).
Throw at least six innings (seven, to be pedantic).
Minimize hits and walks (four of one, two of the other).
Allow the defense to carry its end of the piano, most of all the often undertaxed infield (eight ground ball outs, which is high for any Giants pitcher).
Change the course of a series by stabilizing the bullpen (only Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo pitched, and Guillermo Mota heated up once).
Make the Giants seem more like . . . well, more like the Giants.

Yes, Vogelsong did all this, simply by not running out of petrol too early, or getting spooked by the size of the stage. He controlled all facets of the Cardinal offense, save Chris Carpenter and Carlos Beltran, and he protected a 5-1 lead as Giant pitchers used to when they had an ultra-reliable rotation.

What they have now, of course, is two wings and a bunch of prayers. Or if you must, Vogelsong, Cain and pray for rain, to steal the old 1948 poem from Boston Post writer Gerald Hern, back in the days when poetry could be found in the sports section, and the Boston Braves were driving for pennant behind pitchers Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain:

First we'll use Spahn,
Then we'll use Sain,
Then an off day followed by rain,
Back will come Spahn,
Followed by Sain,
And followed, we hope, by two days of rain.

By the way, rain is in the forecast in St. Louis for Wednesday, in case your dj runs to that sort of vu.

In the interim, Vogelsong found the light and stood right in its midst for what he considered his finest start ever.

I think it was in the third right after Beltran hit that leadoff double, and something just clicked in mechanically. I threw a pitch (to the Cardinals villain du jour, Matt Holliday) and I went, That was it right there. I was able to run with that feeling right there and keep it going.

For sure, this is the best Ive probably thrown in a big league game after the third inning for sure. One thing clicked and I was able to sustain it.

His fastball, which topped at 94, rarely dipped below 92 (the RBI double he allowed to Carpenter was 89 and hittable, but an exception to the rule), and after relying mostly on the fastball early, he spent the rest of the night mixing in curve balls, sliders and changeups.

I just kept trying to mix it up, Vogelsong said. Theyre obviously a strong offensive team, and their numbers speak for themselves, so I kept trying to mix things up depending on the hitter, and tried to bounce the ball around the zone like I normally do.

The result of all this was that the Giants go to St. Louis with their bullpen rested in all the places that it needed rest, worked where it needed work (specifically, Romo, who would have been idle for five days had he not mopped up in the ninth), and in order for not only the Cain start in Game 3, but the chaos to follow.

With the series guaranteed to go at least five games now, manager Bochy will have to tackle his back-end starting pitching issues head-on for Games 4 and 5, where the conundrum of Madison Bumgarner has left Game 5 a muddle. Bumgarners mechanics have gone astray, as Vogelsongs had in early September, and it isnt widely believed that he can solve them before Saturday.

In short, the new question is whether Tim Lincecum starts Game 4 and Barry Zito or Bumgarner Game 5, or Zito starts 4 and Lincecum 5. And Bochy, an old campaigner when hes working with a two-man rotation, is going to make a jigsaw puzzle that cant possibly fit, fit.

More immediately pressing, though, is the hip injury to second baseman Marco Scutaro after a hard and tardy slide from Holliday in the top of the first. Scutaro injured his left hip and went to the hospital for tests and delicious food . . . well, okay, for tests.

NEWS: Scutaro leaves with hip injury, X-rays negative

But as is the Giants way in the postseason, they wont have an announcement on Scutaro until Tuesday at the earliest, and maybe not until Game 3 Wednesday in St. Louis. True, they have Ryan Theriot, who closed the game at the position, but Scutaro is plainly preferable, as his two-run single in the pivotal fourth inning indicated. By the time he left the game in the sixth, the result was safe, but his short-term future was murky.

The X-rays were negative, Bochy fumed, but were going to do an MRI on him tomorrow, I believe. And once we get to St. Louis, well see how hes doing and where hes at.

Bochy was unhappy with Hollidays slide, but there was little to do about it except what the Giants did, which was focus on the greater task getting out of California with a split.

Now comes the bigger picture, though. Cain and rain, the mystery starters in Four and Five, and the growing realization that the Giants from top to bottom are the hardest thing it is to be in a short series.

Day to day.

Blach knocked around as Giants drop three of four to Padres

Blach knocked around as Giants drop three of four to Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wil Myers has had his way with the San Francisco Giants, and so has San Diego.

Oh how this rivalry has shifted - not to mention Myers' power stroke at AT&T Park, where he has already cleared the fences five times this season.

He decided to embrace the ballpark's challenging conditions and typical chilly temperatures coming off the bay.

Myers homered for a career-best third straight game against San Francisco, Jabari Blash hit a go-ahead two-run double in the decisive fourth to back Dinelson Lamet, and the San Diego Padres beat the Giants 5-2 on Sunday.

"One of the big things is just actually wanting to come here to play. Last year I kind of dreaded coming here because it's a pitcher's ballpark and they have great pitchers," Myers said. "One thing I did this year was just got excited to play here. It's the mindset you got to have if you want to play well."

Lamet (4-4) struck out six pitching into the seventh in his 10th big league start and sixth on the road. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in six of his outings.

San Diego hit three straight doubles in the fourth and four consecutive hits in all against lefty Ty Blach (6-6), who is yet to beat the Padres in three career starts.

Hector Sanchez added a run-scoring double in the fourth against his former and Cory Spangenberg hit an RBI single.

Myers clobbered a 3-2 pitch for his 20th home run with two outs in the first. The Giants tied it in the bottom half when Buster Posey's RBI single scored Denard Span, who doubled leading off the inning.

"A couple bad pitches they ambushed me early in the count," Blach said. "It's frustrating when you're rolling like that you can't make adjustments quick enough."

Lamet surrendered eight hits and two runs and walked a batter in 6 2/3 innings as the teams finished after nine innings following extra-inning games the previous two days. Brad Hand, San Diego's third reliever, finished with a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save.

Sanchez had a season-best three hits Friday and finished this series 5-for-12 with a home run and three RBIs. He is a career .464 hitter (13 for 28) with five homers and 14 RBIs against San Francisco, which hasn't won a series with the Padres since May 2016.

The Giants had won the past three starts by Blach, who allowed five runs on eight hits in seven innings, struck out seven and walked one after winning his last two decisions.

San Diego has won seven of the last nine meetings in the rivalry, currently featuring the two bottom teams in the NL West.

"We still have a ton of respect for who they are, the players on the field and what they've done," Padres manager Andy Green said. "We know at any point in time they could go reel off 10 or 12 and have a great run. We don't want that to start on us."

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Padres: 2B Yangervis Solarte, a switch-hitter sidelined by a strained left oblique muscle, is set to begin swinging from the right side Monday. The left side hasn't been a problem. ... RHP Craig Stammen is still two or three days away from pitching after he strained a hamstring, Green said. ... OF Travis Jankowski's rehab will be extensive, with him staying with Triple-A El Paso through the month as he nurses a bruised bone in his right foot. ... LF Jose Pirela got a break.

Giants: Closer Mark Melancon threw all of his pitches in a mound session as he works back from a second DL stint with a strained forearm. "Now it's a matter how he comes out of it," manager Bruce Bochy said. Melancon is likely to need another two or three weeks and the Giants have no target date for his return. The reliever could face hitters within a week. ... RHP Johnny Cueto, who landed on the DL with blisters on three fingers, played light catch. ... 2B Joe Panik had a day off.

UP NEXT:
Padres: LHP Clayton Richard (5-10, 5.35 ERA) faces the Mets owning a 4.17 ERA against New York over his initial seven starts.

Giants: RHP Matt Cain (3-8, 5.49) will try to avoid matching the longest losing streak of his career at eight games - from July 28, 2015-May 10, 2016 - when he pitches the series opener at home against Pittsburgh.

No room for Eduardo Nunez? Red Sox call up top third base prospect

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USATSI

No room for Eduardo Nunez? Red Sox call up top third base prospect

The Boston Red Sox have promoted Rafael Devers from Triple-A Pawtucket, manager John Farrell announced Sunday.

Devers will play his first game on Tuesday.

The third baseman has spent his 2017 season and Portland (AA) and Pawtucket (AAA). With the Pawsox, Devers had a .324 batting average in 34 at-bats. He had 11 hits, one double, two homers and four RBIs.

The Sox have been unsettled at third base during the 2017 season, and released third baseman Pablo Sandoval Wedneday. Devin Marrero, Tzu-Wei Lin and Brock Holt have rotated at third base throughout the season. However, the Sox optioned Lin to Pawtucket last week.

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