Blanco makes impact with nearly identical diving catches


Blanco makes impact with nearly identical diving catches

SAN FRANCISCO Gregor Blanco signed with the Giants lastoffseason in the hopes that he could crack the roster as a fourth outfielder.Now hes starting in the World Series and making spectacular catches lookroutine.Blanco might never top the catch he made in Triples Alley to save Matt Cainsperfect game on June 13, 2012, but he added two more highlight plays onbaseballs biggest stage in the Giants 8-3 win to open the World SeriesWednesday.With the speedy Austin Jackson on first base and two outs, Blanco was playingdeep with Miguel Cabrera at the plate and had to hustle straight in and make adiving catch.Then in the sixth inning, after the Tigers finally plated their first runagainst Barry Zito, Blanco stopped the bleeding with a momentum-killing divingcatch of Prince Fielders opposite-field line drive. It was pretty much the same ball, Blanco said.Although the second catch prompted some dj vu, the degree of difficulty wasno different.You have to have a good jump, Blanco said. You have tohave a good read on the baseball. And I just committed. Go for it, dont eventhink about it and thats why I made those catches.With all do respect to Zito, it could have been a completely different outingwithout Blancos heroics. Blanco said his starter paid his respects during thegame.Im always trying to be there for my pitchers and everytime they make a mistake I try to support them, Blanco said. Barry, he wasreally happy about it and that gave him confidence.Zito made sure to share his appreciation for Blanco in hispostgame press conference.I mean, it's just incredible, Zito said. I've been a bit spoiled this yearwith the defense That second one that Prince hit, it had some funky spin onit, and that was so impressive because not only did he dive, but he had to staywith the path of that ball.Blanco is just he's such a huge part of thisteam in every way.Outside of one early season hot streak, Blanco has been inconsistent at the plate.But his glove makes him valuable, no matter what hes doing with the bat.You can help win a ballgame without getting a base hit,Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Blanco is one of those players with thedefense that he gives you. Were more athletic and faster in the outfield, andthose guys do a great job of covering ground. Hes one of the best.Its hard to imagine such high praise from Bochy coming justsix month after Blanco was fighting for a roster spot in spring training. WhileBochy praised Blanco after many stellar Cactus League performances, his rosterspot was in doubt for the majority of the time the team spent in Scottsdale.Now, between the perfect game catch and the two in Game 1 of the World Series,Blanco has made a name for himself in franchise lore.The one catch he made in Cains perfect game well alwaysremember, Bochy said. But hes done that all year. Hes made great plays outthere. He gets a good jump and the ball, and he throws well. Hes just a giftedoutfielder.Blanco would not be in the position to make the two spectacular catchesWednesday if not for Melky Cabreras suspension, which created a jobopportunity for a new starting left-fielder. Did Blanco ever think, way back inspring training, that he could be a starting outfielder in the World Series?No. But this is baseball and thats why you work reallyhard for it. And thats what I did. I was waiting for this opportunity and Imjust having a great time right now and enjoying it the most I can.Hunter Pence, who was acquired before Cabreras suspensionto play right-field because Blanco and Nate Schierholtz werent producing, isthoroughly impressed with his teammate.Blancos been incredible all year, Pence said. Hes just sogood with the glove and always seems to be in the right place. Everything wason the line, so it gives you a charge. Those big plays are just reallyrefreshing.While Blanco certainly enjoyed the larger-than-usual scrum of media membersanxiously waiting to talk to him about his heroics, like Zito, he deflectedsome of the praise.I think I have to give some credit to Angel Pagan and Roberto Kelly, Blancosaid. They move me and we talk about it before every game how weplay every single guy so Im always in the right spot.San Francisco is clearly the right spot for Blanco, who originally signed withthe Giants as a non-roster invitee. He feels at home playing alongside some ofhis fellow countrymen, such as Pablo Sandoval and Marco Scutaro, and is nowgetting the chance to play in his first postseason.Ive been thinking about it a lot, Blanco said. Its a dream come true forme. Being part of this team, being a part of a World Series lineup and all thestuff that just happened. Every single night, every single swing, every singlepitch has just been unbelievable.After a few more nights in San Francisco and Detroit and afew more quality swings, Blanco and his teammates could be celebrating a WorldSeries title. After shocking Justin Verlander and the Tigers in Game 1, Blancois all about staying the course.I think we do all the little things to be in the positionthat we are right now. And we just have to keep doing it.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs


Hit five home runs, and a team has to like its chances of winning.

The A’s simply couldn’t keep up with the Houston Astros’ bats, however, in an 11-8 loss Wednesday night that snapped Oakland’s four-game winning streak. Khris Davis went deep twice, and Ryon Healy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Olson all went deep as the A’s set their season high for home runs.

But Houston racked up 17 hits against Jesse Hahn (3-6) and four relievers and evened this three-game series at a game apiece. It was the second time Hahn has gotten knocked around by Houston inside of a week.

The A’s took an early lead, 5-4, in the third on the second of Davis’ two homers, part of a four-run rally for Oakland. But the Astros answered right back with five runs in the bottom half, and the A’s never recovered from that momentum swing.

Hahn’s struggles continue: Hahn was trying to rebound after the Astros hung nine earned runs on him last Thursday at the Coliseum. Things didn’t improve Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, as the right-hander lasted just two-plus innings and allowed six runs on nine hits. Is this a case of one team simply having Hahn’s number or do the A’s make a move and try someone else in the rotation? It bears watching.

Krush Davis x 2: It was apparent early this would be a slugfest, with Khris Davis homering twice within the first three innings as the A’s tried to keep pace. He led off the second with a shot to left field, then came back with a three-run blast to left in the third that put Oakland up 5-4. The homers were his team-leading 20th and 21st.

Reddick-ulous night: Josh Reddick filled up the stat sheet against his old team in every way imaginable. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and twice caught the A’s by surprise by stealing third base. For good measure, he turned in an excellent running catch in right field to rob Yonder Alonso.

Strange offensive night: What to make of this night offensively for the A’s? They hit a season-high five homers but also struck out a whopping 17 times. No matter … you can’t hang this one on the offense, because …

The pitching staff just couldn’t hold things down: Josh Smith was called upon to hold down the fort after Hahn departed in the third, but Smith was tagged for three runs on four hits. Daniel Coulombe and John Axford also got touched for runs. Rookie Michael Brady did turn in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”