Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants claim 3-0 World Series lead

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants claim 3-0 World Series lead

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DETROIT Some things perturb Ryan Vogelsong. Cold weather is not among them.In fact, Vogelsong, who lives in rural Pennsylvania, was downright ticked when it only snowed once this past winter. He is the rare soul who finds therapy in shoveling out his driveway.So Vogelsong took the mound wearing short sleeves in 47-degree weather Saturday night, and he cleared the widest lane imaginable. He held down a thoroughly frustrated Detroit Tigers lineup for 5 23 scoreless innings, Tim Lincecum followed with more toxic stuff out of the bullpen, and after a 2-0 victory at Comerica Park, the Giants have a three-to-none lead and an open path to another World Series title.Gregor Blanco, a non-roster invitee this spring, knocked in the first run with a triple in the second inning. And the Giants pitching staff, as its done all postseason, refused to part with the lead as Bruce Bochys club threatens to complete a four-game sweep.Vogelsong survived a head-in-the-lions-jaws confrontation with Miguel Cabrera that will linger in memory, facing the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years with the bases loaded and jamming him with a gutsy, inside fastball to leave them full in the fifth inning.The Giants havent trailed in 54 consecutive innings -- a streak that began with Game 5 of the NLCS. Theyve led at the conclusion of 44 of those innings.Giants starting pitchers have allowed one earned run in 18 13 innings in the World Series, continuing the momentum from their incredible run to storm back and beat the Cardinals in the NLCS. Incredibly, Giants starters are 6-0 with a 0.47 ERA over their last six games.And the Giants pitching staff has held the Tigers scoreless in 25 of 27 innings to take total control of this series.Starting pitching reportVogelsong continues to pitch with a chip on his shoulder while earning stripes on his chest. He became the fifth pitcher in major league history to make four starts in a single postseason and allow one run or fewer in all of them, joining Arizonas Curt Schilling (2001), Atlantas John Smoltz (1996), the Dodgers' Burt Hooton (1981) and the As John Blue Moon Odom (1972).Vogelsong is 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA over 24 23 innings this postseason but he worked up a cold sweat against the Tigers, who put him in the stretch in every inning save the second.Taking enough time in between pitches to knit some mittens, Vogelsong found his changeup early and used it in a couple of huge spots. After two of the first three batters reached to start the game, Vogelsong threw a changeup to induce a double-play grounder from Prince Fielder.The Tigers laced a pair of one-out singles in the third, but Quintin Berry swung at the first pitch and grounded into another double play to end that threat. It was the 11th double-play grounder for the Tigers in this postseason.Then came the fifth inning. Alex Avila lined a single, Omar Infante blooped another to make him 9-for-13 in his career against Vogelsong, and Austin Jackson walked on a 3-2 pitch as the Tigers loaded the bases with one out.But after Berry fouled off a fastball up and away, Vogelsong went back to the same pitch and got a swing-through for the second out.Then up stepped Cabrera, who accepted the Triple Crown trophy in a pregame ceremony (yes, it really was a crown) after he led the AL with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 137 RBIs.He hit a monstrous .420 with two outs and runners in scoring position, too.But Vogelsong went hard in on the first pitch, which Cabrera flared six feet foul down the right field line. Vogelsong came back inside again and Cabrera popped up to shortstop as the sellout crowd groaned its displeasure.With that at-bat, the Tigers fell to 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in three World Series games.Vogelsong stepped around Fielder one more time while getting a fly out to right field in the sixth, but his pitch count stood at 104 after a two-out walk to Andy Dirks.He did not look pleased when he handed over the baseball. And it wasnt because he was cold.Bullpen reportTim Lincecum continued to morph into the second coming of John Smoltz.He retired Jhonny Peralta on a fly out to end the sixth and strand Vogelsongs runners, then he threw straight filth over the next two innings. Lincecums changeup was his money pitch, as he used it to rack up all three of his strikeouts -- including Fielder in the eighth.In five relief appearances this postseason, Lincecum has thrown 13 innings and allowed just three hits and one run while walking three and striking out 17.Romo retired all three batters he faced in the ninth, striking out Infante to record his second World Series save.At the plateThere was a suggestion that Bochy shouldve batted Gregor Blanco ninth, essentially giving him another leadoff hitter in front of Angel Pagan once the lineup turned over.I like Blanco right where he is, Bochy said in a pregame chat. I like the way hes swinging.He likes it even more now. Blanco ignited the Giants following Hunter Pences leadoff walk in the second inning. The little left fielder fouled off a cutter and a changeup and Anibal Sanchezs slider was no more effective for him. Blanco improved to 5-for-8 lifetime against Sanchez, putting a charge into the 3-2 pitch and hitting a triple to the deepest reaches of right-center field.Blanco became the first Giant in franchise history with two triples in a single World Series. And Brandon Crawford found a way to get him home, blooping a two-out single that fell in front of center fielder Austin Jackson.Sanchez stood at 47 pitches after two innings but he began to throw more quality strikes and get the feel for his breaking stuff. He retired 11 of 12 batters after Crawfords RBI single.The Tigers kept Pablo Sandoval in the ballpark, but the Panda did manage a single in the first inning and a double in the eighth. He has 23 hits in these playoffs, breaking J.T. Snows record for the most by a Giant in a single postseason. (The major league record is 25, held by Marquis Grissom, Darin Erstad and David Freese.)In fieldBlanco made another outstanding play in left field. This one put him in World Series company with Sandy Amoros, Al Gionfriddo and Cookie Lavagetto in baseball lore.It was almost a carbon copy of Amoros catch on Yogi Berra in the 1955 World Series, as Blanco raced into the left field corner and caught Jhonny Peraltas foul fly a step in front of the wall to help Romo record the first out in the ninth inning.The Giants played steady defense all night long. Crawford made a nice stop and quick transfer to start the double play against Berry, who gets down the line better than most.But the shortstop made an error in the eighth when he bobbled Delmon Youngs grounder, then failed to take his time and get a good grip on the ball. He had plenty of time to get the plodding Young, but his throw knuckled short and first baseman Brandon Belt couldnt pick it.AttendanceThe Tigers announced 42,262 paid, and it was a peaceable assembly. That wasnt the case in 1984, after the Tigers swept the San Diego Padres. Bochy recalled thinking wed have to fight for our lives as police in riot gear held back the unruly crowd.Up nextThe Giants and Tigers meet in Game 4 of the World Series Sunday night at Comerica Park. Right-hander Matt Cain (2-2, 3.52 in four postseason starts) takes the mound against right-hander Max Scherzer (1-0, 0.82 in two postseason starts), who has struck out 18 in 11 playoff innings. First pitch is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. PDT.

Three more Giants likely to join Posey in World Baseball Classic

Three more Giants likely to join Posey in World Baseball Classic

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Four years ago, Giants coaches made no secret of the fact that they felt some veterans were affected by playing in the World Baseball Classic. The Giants were coming off a long postseason run, but eight of their big leaguers chose to participate in the 2013 event. 

Four years later, the list is down to just four, and the Giants won’t stand in their way. Buster Posey has already been announced as a catcher for Team USA and Brandon Crawford is expected to play as well. Johnny Cueto has told the Giants that he intends on pitching for the Dominican Republic and Albert Suarez plans to pitch for his native Venezuela. 

In past years, clubs have primarily been concerned about pitchers. In an odd way, hitters are almost better off playing in the WBC instead of facing amped up prospects in Cactus League games. The Giants learned that lesson the hard way in 2015 when Hunter Pence was drilled by a prospect with a lack of command, causing him to miss the start of the season. For pitchers, the run-up to Opening Day is a tedious one, but Giants officials said they’re not concerned about their co-ace, Cueto, participating. 

“Major League Baseball is doing everything it can to help us protect them in terms of the quantity of players on the roster and pitch counts and innings,” general manager Bobby Evans said. “We feel MLB is working carefully to help all of us manage guys while they’re away from camp. We feel as confident as ever that they’ll be protected. Lessons have been learned, and everyone involved will try to find ways to avoid issues.”

If Crawford commits to playing, he could find himself in a fun spot. Nolan Arenado has already said he will play for the United States and the two National League West stars could form one hell of a defensive duo on the left side of the infield. Posey will start for a team that already has Max Scherzer and Chris Archer as part of the starting staff. Evans said the teams will carry three catchers, and Posey isn’t expected to be overworked. His manager said he’s not worried about the decision. Posey will simply have to start his preparation process a bit sooner.

“I’m fine with it,” Bruce Bochy said of Posey playing. “Buster wants to do it and I’m good with it.”

This will be the fourth edition of the WBC. In 2013, the Giants were represented by Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla, Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Jose Mijares. 

Bochy: Game 4 loss to Cubs toughest I've ever had to bounce back from

Bochy: Game 4 loss to Cubs toughest I've ever had to bounce back from

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Bruce Bochy had grown accustomed to being in the October spotlight during even years, so he had a hard time getting on board as a spectator during one of the most exciting postseasons in recent memory. 

Bochy’s Giants blew a three-run lead in their final game of the season, a loss so devastating that several players headed home the next day without even packing up their lockers. Two months later, Bochy is all smiles. He likes his team, and on Monday he got the closer he needed back in Game 4 of the NLDS. 

Bochy sat down with CSN Bay Area on Tuesday for a one-on-one interview about Mark Melancon, left field, that postseason loss, his new coaches and much more. We’ll make the whole thing available as a podcast, but for now, here are Bochy’s thoughts on the loss that ended his even-year run: 

“I had a hard time, I’m not going to lie. In all my years, that’s the toughest game I’ve ever had to bounce back off of,” he said. “It took a while. It was hard to watch that first postseason game but gradually it got a little better. Just the way we went out, that’s a tough way to go. Our bullpen has been such a big reason for our success so to go out that way, it really wasn’t just that game — it was the second half — we just had a hard time trying to get it figured out. 

“You know, you’ve got to put it behind you, but I’m not going to lie, that was a pretty big blow to the chin. It took a while to get over it.” 

The Giants led the Cubs 5-2 when Bochy made the decision to pull Matt Moore after eight brilliant innings and 120 pitches. That night, Moore and Bochy and everyone else involved said that there was a consensus that Moore had reached the end of the line. Two months later, Bochy doesn’t regret the move. Moore’s 120 pitches went down as the postseason high. 

“I think you can always look back, but these cards have backs on them,” Bochy said. “I felt good about protecting Moore. If he goes back out there he’s probably looking at 135 or maybe more pitches or you’ve got to bring a reliever in with men on base. I felt with the three-run lead that the guys I had could get three outs.” 

Derek Law was the first man out of the bullpen and he gave up a single that was inches from Brandon Crawford’s glove. Javier Lopez walked Anthony Rizzo. Sergio Romo entered and gave up a double to Ben Zobrist. Will Smith gave up a single to pinch-hitter Willson Contreras. After an error, Hunter Strickland gave up a single to Javier Baez. The Cubs won 6-5 and went on to win the World Series. 

“We knew we could get the matchups that we wanted,” Bochy said on Tuesday. “It started out with Law and he got the ground ball right in the shift. The walk hurt. We got behind Rizzo and ended up walking him and Romo ended up getting behind Zobrist and that hurt, the double. And then we had Smitty. I was comfortable and sure they put in the right-handed bat, but the tying run was on second and I didn’t want a left-handed bat up there to pull the ball. He hits a ball that Smitty doesn’t quite get to, a seeing-eye base hit, and unlike us, we made a costly error. There was another, I felt, like a cheap hit there.

“But these are moments you relive. The good ones, but the bad ones stay with you too sometimes.”