Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 2, Dodgers 1


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 2, Dodgers 1

LOS ANGELES Clayton Kershaw is 24. Madison Bumgarner turned 23 a couple weeks ago.Block out your calendars for the next decade. Well be seeing these two stingy, side-slinging left-handers battle each other for years to come. And often, theres going to be a lot riding on the outcome like first place in the NL West.On an idyllic Monday night at Chavez Ravine, Bumgarner did Juan Marichal proud.Both left-handers struck out 10 in eight innings and did not walk a batter. But Bumgarner was a bit more hard-boiled, a bit better and a bit luckier than Kershaw, mixing hard stuff with dirt-splashing sliders over eight shutout innings while pitching the Giants to a 2-1 victory at Dodger Stadium Monday night.Angel Pagan sparked the lineup with a pair of hits, Pablo Sandoval made enough quality contact to bring him home both times and the defense stole a few hits behind Bumgarner as the Giants regained a half-game advantage in the NL West over their archrivals.Bumgarner threw 123 pitches one short of his career high, which he set July 1 of last season at Detroit. It was the second most pitches a Giant has thrown this season; Cain fired 125 in his perfect game June 13.Sergio Romo served up a home run to Hanley Ramirez in the ninth inningStarting pitching reportBumgarner (14-7) was facing the Dodgers for the first time this season and making his second career start against Kershaw. The only other time they faced off, Bumgarner got pummeled for five runs in five innings on April 11, 2011 the season in which he began with an 0-6 record.He is a different pitcher now. He struck out 10 and didnt walk a batter while twice stranding a runner at third base.Bumgarner wasnt quite settled in the first inning, but the ball wasnt carrying so well as Shane Victorino and Matt Kemp hit loud fly balls to the warning track.Bumgarner flashed strikeout stuff after that. He pitched out of a jam in the second inning when he threw a slider on A.J. Ellis hands to strand two runners. Catcher Buster Posey helped him out of the stretch two other times when he threw out baserunners in the third and fifth, the latter an inning-ending double play.But it got stressful in the sixth, after Kershaw singled for the second time in the game and Victorino replaced him following a fielders choice. Hunter Pence made a sliding catch in right field for the second out, and then the Dodgers kept testing Posey as Victorino stole second and third.Bumgarner expertly put away the Dodgers best hitter, though. He threw six consecutive sliders, bouncing the final one past Kemps lunging swing to end the inning. Posey expertly smothered it to keep Kemp from advancing and a run from scoring.Bumgarner had thrown 104 pitches when he hit for himself in the eighth inning. He still had plenty of bite on his pitches, striking out pinch hitter Juan Uribe and Victorino to keep the shutout intact.It was the fourth time in his career he exceeded 120 pitches.Bullpen reportRomo showed he isnt a one-trick pony when the slider specialist spotted an inside fastball that caught A.J. Ellis looking to start the ninth. He dispatched of Kemp with a ground out to short, too. But he couldnt record the save with a two-strike count on Ramirez, who took him deep for the second time this season.Romo has allowed four homers this season two of them to Ramirez since he joined the Dodgers in July.Giants manager Bruce Bochy summoned left-hander Javier Lopez, who did what he usually does to left-handed hitters. Lopez got Andre Ethier to ground to first base, Brandon Belt scampered across the bag and the Giants shook hands as a first-place club once more.Lopez recorded his second save of the season. Committee adjourned.At the plateLets dust off that stat about Kershaw: He entered with a 1.32 career ERA against the Giants the lowest of any opponent against them in the San Francisco era (with a minimum of 10 starts). Arizonas Ian Kennedy ranked a distant second, with a 2.01 ERA.But the Giants were able to jump him for a run before he could settle in. Angel Pagan roped a double, Marco Scutaro sacrificed him to third and Pablo Sandoval did well to make contact, lifting a sacrifice fly that was just deep enough to get the job done.Pagan started a two-out rally in the sixth that led to another run, although his single off shortstop Hanley Ramirezs glove could have been called an error. Marco Scutaro flared a single and Sandoval again made good things happen by putting the bat on the ball. He dumped a single to left field and Pagan, who got a tremendous jump at the instant Sandoval made contact, barely slid ahead of catcher A.J. Ellis tag.Ellis argued but replays appeared to show that Pagan got a foot across the plate before the catcher tagged his hand.Kershaw (11-7) yielded nothing more. He struck out 10 in eight innings and did not walk a batter.In fieldThe Giants tried the small ball route against Kershaw when Gregor Blanco tried to bunt his way aboard in the third inning. But Kershaw made an incredible play, diving on his stomach and wiping out a good portion of the first base chalk line while catching the little pop.Hunter Pence made a huge play in the sixth, sliding to catch Mark Ellis sinking line drive with one out and a runner aboard. Poseys two throws to nab runners merit special mention, too.And then Marco Scutaro did his part by leaping to snag A.J. Ellis line drive with one out in the eighth.It was a tremendous defensive night in spite of Sandovals error at third base in the seventh inning. Bumgarner pitched around it.AttendanceThe Dodgers announced 36,878 paid. The last three sections down each line in the upper deck were totally empty for the biggest series to date this season.Up nextThe Giants continue their three-game showdown series at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday. Tim Lincecum (6-12, 5.45), coming off another rough start, needs to step up against right-hander Joe Blanton (8-11, 4.96). Lincecum actually has been competitive against the Dodgers this season, posting a 1-1 record and 3.00 ERA in two starts while striking out 16 in 12 innings.

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

While the Giants aggressively pursue a new closer, they haven't been aggressive for a new left fielder.

Angel Pagan is a free agent and isn't likely to come back. That leaves talented, but unproven youngsters Mac Williams and Jarrett Parker.

And for GM Bobby Evans, who is always looking for ways to improve the roster, it appears he is content going into the 2017 with Williamson and Parker filling the void in left field.

"Our mindset has been to keep an open mind in any way we can improve the club offensively. But that said, I feel like we've got a starting lineup today that we don't have to adjust or improve upon. I'd always like to find ways to improve it. I think there are some big market options, but we've got two young guys that we want to get a good evaluation on, and you can't really do that until they get major league at-bats. That's Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker and both of them are really in-waiting for an opportunity to get everyday playing time and show what they can do," Evans told ESPN's Buster Olney on Friday.

But Evans is keeping an open mind regarding acquiring a left fielder.

"That said, I also have to make sure that if we have an opportunity to improve or solidify our lineup in some way, I want to take advantage of it. But I can't lose sight of the benefit of developing our own guys and giving them a chance and not locking ourselves into keeping them from playing time in the next two to three years" Evans said.

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

As the Winter Meetings get set to begin in Washington, D.C. on Monday, the Giants still haven't crossed off the top item on their offseason wish list.

The closer role remains vacant.

Names like Mark Melancon and Greg Holland have been linked to the Giants over the last few weeks, but nothing has materialized.

On Friday, GM Bobby Evans provided an update while speaking with ESPN's Buster Olney.

"There's been a lot of signings and a number of trades. In many ways, more done prior to the winter meetings than in the last couple of years. We still are in process, relative to trade options, relative to free agent options, to be clear who's pitching the ninth inning for us. So we feel we have the makings of a good bullpen, we just need to be clear who's pitching the ninth. And we'd like to solidify that through the trade market or free agent market. It's progressing. We're a month into this process, so we have a lot more information. But ultimately, until we have a closer, we're still in the search mode.

There's a nice balance between both. It's just that, they both have costs. Relative to a trade, sometimes you're giving up, in some cases, one or more of your top prospects and other prospects below that. In the way of free agency, it's obviously an expenditure for a certain number of years that is elavated more on the supply and demand side. That said, there are some middle tier late inning options as well that may not be as demanding as some of the bigger names. Again, it's a balance of options trying to measure all three."