Redskins

Beltran back in SF for postseason, now with Cards

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Beltran back in SF for postseason, now with Cards

Carlos Beltran so desperately wanted to help the Giants return to the playoffs last fall during his short time with San Francisco.

The Giants missed out a year after winning the 2010 World Series.

Now, Beltran is in the other dugout with the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, facing the Giants in the NL championship series.

Booed during pregame introductions and when he came to the plate, Beltran hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to put St. Louis ahead 6-0 and chase San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner.

``It was great,'' Beltran said of playing in San Francisco. ``Being able to play for the Giants was a good thing for me. I was looking forward to trying to be in this position. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. But at the same time, just being able to play for these fans, they're very loud, they're good fans. They're really supportive. I got the opportunity to meet a lot of new faces, new teammates, and it was a good time.''

Beltran, acquired by the Giants in a trade with the New York Mets in late July last year, batted .323 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 44 games while also missing time with injuries.

While the Cardinals had their own remarkable rally from six runs down in Washington on Friday night - Beltran's double started a four-run comeback in the ninth inning of Game 5 - he was proud to see his old team come back from a 2-0 deficit in the NL division series to win three straight against the Reds in Cincinnati.

``That shows right there what type of team they are,'' Beltran said. ``They're a good team, they play together, they've got a good pitching staff, and they've also got a good manager in (Bruce) Bochy.''

The All-Star outfielder signed a $26 million, two-year deal with the Cardinals last winter.

The Giants still appreciate Beltran's contributions to their club, too - albeit such a short stint.

``He did a great job,'' Bochy said before Sunday's Game 1. ``Great teammate. We enjoyed him here and he did all he could to help us. We just as a group stopped hitting, but he didn't.''

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NIX IN: When Jayson Nix signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees in the offseason, starting at shortstop in place of Derek Jeter in the postseason was hardly in his mind.

Still, throughout the year he was always prepared for the moment he might have to replace big stars.

``These are the things I have to consider,'' Nix said before Game 2 of the AL championship series against Detroit on Sunday. ``A certain guy goes down, I'm up. If Robbie (Cano) goes down or Derek goes down or Alex (Rodriguez) goes down, I've got to play.''

And play he will, for as long as the Yankees remain in this postseason.

He said Jeter, who broke his left ankle in Game 1 and is now out for the postseason, texted him Sunday morning to wish him well.

``He just said good luck. He said he believes in me, and go get `em,'' Nix said.

A part-time big leaguer of four seasons with Colorado, Cleveland, Toronto and the Chicago White Sox, Nix has excelled in his limited role in New York.

The 30-year-old Nix hit .323 over 18 games in spring training but was sidelined for two weeks with a bruised left calf and started the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

But he was called up in May on the same day Mariano Rivera injured his knee shagging flyballs during batting practice and has stuck with the team.

``To be able to come here and fill a role for this team and be around this group of guys has been very special,'' Nix said.

A first-round draft pick of the Rockies in 2001, Nix got plenty of playing time when A-Rod broke his hand in late July.

He batted .243 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 177 at-bats this season. And he already started at shortstop once this postseason, in Game 4 of the division series after Jeter fouled a ball off his foot and limped off the field a night earlier.

Nix went 2 for 3 with a double in the first playoff start of his career, and manager Joe Girardi has confidence he can do it again.

``I like Nixey's at-bats, and he is a grinder,'' Girardi said. ``He is one of the guys that got us here, and that's why I am doing it.''

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NO NERVES: There was one thing that had San Francisco pitcher Ryan Vogelsong just a bit nervous before he made his postseason debut last week in the NL division series: a lack of nerves.

Vogelsong expected a few jitters before his Game 3 start at Cincinnati and was surprised when they weren't there.

``That worried me a little bit because in the past when I've been in some not quite as big games as that, but throughout the regular season and a little bit last year and some stuff in the past with me in Japan, the nerves are usually good,'' he said. ``I didn't have any, really.''

``I was a little worried about that. I don't know if that was so much more of the conscious effort to try and calm myself down, to not go into the first inning too amped up and be out of control. But it didn't take long at all,'' he said.

Vogelsong responded well after a few first-inning difficulties, allowing one run and three hits in five innings in the Giants' 2-1 win over the Reds that started San Francisco's comeback of three straight wins.

With that start under his belt and the chance to pitch at home in Game 2 of the NL championship series against the Cardinals where his ERA was a full run lower in the regular season, Vogelsong is excited for his second postseason appearance.

``It's no secret, I've said in the past, that I definitely feed off the energy that this crowd brings,'' he said. ``I'm sure it's going to be pretty intense tomorrow night. It's pretty intense on a regular-season game here in the middle of June. So tomorrow night should be extra energetic.''

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.