Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Mariners 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Mariners 2


SEATTLE For a starting pitcher, the line is so thin. When are you nibbling and when are you refusing to give in?

Ryan Vogelsong simply will not throw a pitch down Broadway. But he does not take small bites. He battled to go deep again Friday night, pitching through early traffic before settling into a groove. Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera hit home runs as the Giants took a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Second baseman Ryan Theriot and shortstop Joaquin Arias combined on an improbable double play to rescue Vogelsong when he had trouble throwing a strike in the fourth inning. The determined right-hander finally settled down and retired the next nine hitters to give the Giants yet another quality start.

Starting pitching report
Vogelsong (6-2) ran his winning streak to six consecutive decisions after holding the Mariners woeful lineup to two runs in seven-plus innings. But his start was nearly better than that.

He carried a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning before consecutive singles sent Giants manager Bruce Bochy to the mound. Both his inherited runners scored, leaving him with a 2.40 ERA.

But Vogelsong relied on some good fortune to escape trouble when he was not sharp at all in the early innings. Jesus Montero hit a ringing double to lead off the second inning and Michael Saunders followed with a wicked line drive to center field. But Angel Pagan had a better read on it than Montero did. Pagan charged the line drive, then lollipopped the ball to the infield to double off the runner.

Vogelsong pitched out of trouble again in the third after Miguel Olivo doubled and Brendan Ryan drew a one-out walk. Vogelsong got Ichiro Suzuki to pop out and then third baseman Pablo Sandoval made a nice, ranging play and running throw to retire Franklin Gutierrez.

The fourth inning was the turning point in the game. Vogelsong kept missing while walking Kyle Seager and Montero, the latter on a 3-1 cutter when he refused to give in and throw a cookie fastball. But Saunders hit a loud out to right field and the middle infield turned a sensational double play on Justin Smoaks hard ground ball.

Bullpen report
Javier Lopez gave up a single to Casper Wells to load the bases in the eighth but he managed to deflect Ichiros chopper up the middle that Arias turned into a forceout at second base.

Sergio Romo kept the inning from getting totally out of hand. He got an RBI ground out from Franklin Gutierrez and did a good job covering first base on Kyler Seagers ground out to Brandon Belt.

Santiago Casilla had his hard fastball and spike curve working while recording his 18th save in 19 chances.

At the plate
The Mariners are frustrated with the hitting conditions in their home ballpark. Sound familiar? It probably has more to do with a deficiency of talent than the spacious dimensions, as Buster Posey demonstrated with his no-doubt home run into the left field seats leading off the second inning.

Poseys shot was his team-leading eighth of the season and it drew a loud cheer from the crowd, which was at least half orange and especially enthusiastic.

The Giants added a run in the fourth when Angel Pagan drew a leadoff walk and Brandon Belt stayed hot by clearing his hips and turning on a pitch for a double to right field. Pagan slipped around third base, but Arias scored him with a sacrifice fly.

Cabrera took a rip at a pitch in the eighth inning for a two-run shot, his sixth of the season. The ball barely cleared the fence in left-center and it came after Gregor Blancos leadoff single.

The Mariners entered the game hitting .198 at Safeco, by the way.

In field
It looked like the Giants would be lucky to get one out on Smoaks sharp ground ball to the right side in the fourth. They got two.

Theriot made an aggressive play and spun toward second base, even though he had to bounce a difficult throw. Arias made a clean pick of it while sweeping across the bag, then made a firm throw to complete the double play.

Theriot applauded Arias on his way off the field. If not for the shortstop, the play likely would have gone for an error and Vogelsong wouldve been in a world of trouble.

The Mariners announced 29,818 paid for Felix Hernandez bobblehead night. Not sure what all those Giants fans will do with them. If Petco Park has become AT&T Park South, Safeco Field is the Giants version of Winterfell.

Up next
Tim Lincecum (2-7, 6.00) takes the mound at Safeco Field for the first time Saturday night, when hell try to pitch the Giants to victory for the first time since April 24. Right-hander Kevin Millwood (3-5, 3.57) starts for the first time since June 8, when he and five relievers combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers here. Millwood departed that start with a strained groin but was deemed fit to return to the rotation.

Giants trade Chris Heston to Mariners

Giants trade Chris Heston to Mariners

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Faced with a crowded depth chart and a need for a roster spot, the Giants shipped right-hander Chris Heston to Seattle on Wednesday night.

The Mariners announced the deal shortly after 7pm PT on Wednesday.

Heston, who made 31 starts and threw a no-hitter for the Giants in 2015, would have been designated for assignment had a deal not gotten done. The Giants will receive a player to be named later. The move clears a 40-man roster spot for closer Mark Melancon, who signed Monday. 

Heston, 28, filled in after injuries to veterans in 2015 and posted a 3.95 ERA and 12 wins, one of which was a no-hitter in New York. He was a first-half savior for an unhealthy staff, going 9-5 with a 3.39 ERA in 18 starts before the All-Star break. The long season caught up to Heston down the stretch, and the Giants filled their rotation that December with free agents Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. 

Heston made just four appearances in 2016 after being moved to the bullpen. It was a transition that didn't quite take, and he ended up back in the minors, making 14 starts for the River Cats as he worked to regain some of the velocity that was lost when he dropped 15 pounds during offseason workouts. An oblique injury led to Heston being put on the 60-day DL in June and ultimately ended his season. 

This represents a needed fresh start for Heston, who was hopelessly blocked in the Giants’ system. The Giants acquired Matt Moore at the deadline and Ty Blach and Matt Cain will compete for the final rotation spot. Veteran Albert Suarez and top pitching prospect Tyler Beede are among the starters who had jumped ahead of Heston. In Seattle, he joins a team in need of starting depth, and he should get a shot to return to a big league rotation.

Kuiper has been told to expect many boring ninth innings from Melancon

Kuiper has been told to expect many boring ninth innings from Melancon

Over the last three seasons, nobody has registered more saves than new Giants closer Mark Melancon.

The three-time All-Star is 131 for 141 in save opportunities over that span.

Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper spoke with Nationals broadcaster F.P. Santangelo about what Melancon brings to the table.

"Mike (Krukow) and I both talked to F.P. and he basically said, 'He's boring. The ninth inning is boring.' And we were like, 'Really? Wow. We haven't seen that in awhile.' So a boring ninth inning would be good for everybody," Kuiper said on KNBR 680 on Wednesday. "Our fans, it would certainly be good for our manager and pitching coach because those two guys had to wear it."

[RELATED: Dusty Baker: 'I hate losing Melancon,' Giants have more resources than Nats]

The Giants blew 30 saves in 2016 -- the most in baseball -- and Giants GM Bobby Evans made it very clear from the moment the season ended that adding a closer was the team's top priority.

San Francisco is confident assimilating Melancon won't be an issue.

He looks like one of those guys who will fit into the clubhouse immediately," Kuiper said.