SF has an unlikely edge against Detroit


SF has an unlikely edge against Detroit

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jim Leyland leads all active managers with 1,676 wins. So when he breaks down one of his fellow skippers, the baseball world should take notice. Leyland, 67, has apparently long admired Giants manager Bruce Bochy's work. Before Game Two the Tigers' skipper said he thought Bochy was one of the best, even when he was at the helm of the San Diego Padres.

"Bruce Bochy is a great manager in my opinion," Leyland said. "He always has been. He runs a good ship; he doesn't get too excited. He's tremendous with his bullpen."

Bochy is third on the active list with 1,454 victories, ranking 23rd all-time. Leyland is 15th on the list. Bochy's Giants earned the praise by taking Game One of the World Series, 8-3, in a game that saw Barry Zito out-duel reigning American League Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander.

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"They were better than we were last night, plain and simple," Leyland said. "In these games you have got to turn the page."

Leyland said there's no chance that Verlander will pitch in Game Four. He is still scheduled to go in Game Five. Verlander is now 0-3 in his three career World Series starts. He threw an Un-Verlander-like 98 pitches over four innings and allowed five runs on Wednesday. Leyland, Verlander, and catcher Alex Avila all admitted the ace was a bit out of whack after an eight-day break.

They will have to hope Merced native Doug Fister is, for lack of a better term, in whack, against his hometown team. Fister is a long-time admirer of the San Francisco Giants and will certainly have family and friends on hand to watch him pitch. Couple that with the World Series stage, and knowing the Giants are already up 1-0 in the series, and he could be facing a bit of pressure. This is a game that he will never forget for many reasons.

"Growing up, don't tell anybody, I was a Giants fan, and being able to come to a couple games when I was little, it's always been a dream and a goal for me, and now it's happening," Fister said of pitching in San Francisco. "It holds a little bit more special place in my heart, I would say, but it doesn't change what we do on the field."

Fister was 10-10 with a 3.45 ERA in the regular season. He has a 1.35 ERA in two postseason starts in 2012 but didn't get a win in either game. The Giants may have a huge advantage with Madison Bumgarner pitching. Yet, it doesn't have anything to do with what each pitcher will be doing on the mound.

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"The guy pitching tonight for them is a really good hitter," Leyland said. "Our guy is not supposed to be a good hitter. That is some type of edge."

Giants starting pitchers have actually driven in a run in four-straight games.

"They take batting practice everyday," Bochy said of his pitchers. "They bunt everyday, and there's a good chance they come up there and help themselves, and our guys have done a great job."

The Tigers will hope to increase their odds of getting to the left-handed Bumgarner in Game Two by swapping their catchers. Right-handed hitter Gerald Laird will get the start. Alex Avila will be back in the lineup when the Tigers face Ryan Vogelsong in Game Three in Detroit. Avila got the start against Zito, who throws left-handed. He went 0 for 3.

"Tonight we'll go back to our total right-handed lineup," Leyland said.

The Tigers will have to hope it works. They have an uphill climb ahead of them. Every home team to win Game One since 1993 has ended up winning the World Series.

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

MESA, Ariz. — Something flipped a switch inside Sean Manaea in the third inning Saturday, and the A’s left-hander pitched with the aggressiveness he’s shown most of spring training.

It was a different story before that, as Manaea issued five walks, two of them forcing in runs, against the Cincinnati Reds. His final Cactus League outing ended after just three innings, his pitch count at more than 70, and he was charged with five earned runs.

“I was trying to nibble at the corners too much,” Manaea said. “The third inning I finally just said, ‘Throw it right down the middle and let them hit it.’”

The plan was to get Manaea close to 90 pitches, so he went to the bullpen and threw 10 more after he was pulled from the game. He entered the day with a 2.81 ERA in his first five outings, walking just one in each of those games.

He downplayed his struggles Saturday in Oakland’s 11-6 split-squad defeat at Hohokam Stadium, and manager Bob Melvin wasn’t expressing major concern either.

“He was just out of sync,” Melvin said. “Typically you don’t see him walk guys like that, let alone multiple guys in a row. It was just a tough day for him. We wanted to try to get him close to 90 pitches. But when you’re throwing that many pitches in three innings, I just couldn’t risk sending him back out there.”

Manaea was stressing the positives of his camp afterward. As he preps for one final tune-up start at AT&T Park against the Giants in the Bay Bridge Series, he particularly likes the way his slider has rounded into form.

“Just being able to have that confidence to throw it for a strike and get weak ground balls and swings and misses, it’s huge,” he said.

CAMP BATTLE: The A’s lost their other split-squad matchup by an identical 11-6 score to the Dodgers in Glendale. Jesse Hahn took the hill and struggled for the second consecutive outing, allowing two homers — including a grand slam by Andrew Toles — and surrendering seven runs (five earned) over 3 1/3 innings. Competing for one of two open rotation spots, Hahn hasn’t shown his best in the Cactus League stretch run. He gave up seven runs against Colorado in his previous start.

ODDS AND ENDS: Third baseman Trevor Plouffe had two more hits against the Reds to raise his average to .425 but left the game after tweaking an abductor muscle in his lower body. “He felt like he’s OK. We just didn’t wanna risk that,” Melvin said. … Rajai Davis connected for his first spring home run and scored three runs. … Sean Doolittle gave up two runs in his inning of work but struck out three. He sported his new eyeglasses for the first time in a major league game. … Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer off former Athletic Rich Hill in the game at Glendale.