Baggs' Instant Replay: Padres 6, Giants 3

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Padres 6, Giants 3

BOX SCORE
SAN FRANCISCO Just when you thought Tim Lincecum was generating some honest to goodness momentum It was not a happy Timmy day for Lincecum at AT&T Park Wednesday afternoon. He was all over the map as well as the strike zone while giving up two homers and five runs before getting the hook in the fifth inning. The Giants offense, despite some late life, was dead for too much of the afternoon in a necrotic, 6-3 loss to the San Diego Padres.Lincecum stopped more than his personal momentum that hed gathered with quality starts against the Astros and Phillies. He also snapped the Giants six-game home winning streak.For the third consecutive series, the Giants won the first two games but failed to polish off the sweep.The Giants are 6-15 in Lincecums starts.Starting pitching reportLincecums woes were familiar enough: He threw too many pitches in the early innings, he got tagged while going through the lineup for a second time, his velocity slipped like a bad transmission and he left fastballs in the crush-me zone.Lincecum (4-11) was electric enough at the outset. He struck out five of the first nine batters he faced, but even then he struggled to put the ball where he wanted it. He hit a batter, walked another and served up a solo home run to Chase Headley.Lincecum couldnt maintain a tie in the fourth, when the Padres loaded the bases on two dinky singles and a walk. Will Venable cashed in two with a two-out double that fell just beyond the reach of Angel Pagan in center field.But if Lincecum was a tad unlucky in the fourth, he was just plain bad in the fifth. His offspeed pitches were easy takes in the dirt and he continued to miss with his fastball. Carlos Quentin singled and Lincecum threw a 3-1 fastball that Guzman punished for a two-run home run. It was just an 89 mph, do-nothing pitch straight down the middle. Guzman wouldve been fined for not hitting it 350-plus feet.Lincecum then walked John Baker on six pitches, ending his afternoon. He has failed to complete five innings in three of his last five starts.The right-hander gave up five runs (all earned) on seven hits and three walks while striking out eight. He threw two wild pitches, gave up two home runs and threw a whopping 102 pitches. At least he didnt balk.Lincecum now sports a 5.88 ERA.Bullpen reportJeremy Affeldt, Brad Penny and George Kontos combined to allow just one run Guzmans homer off Penny in the eighth in 4 13 innings.At the plateThe Giants wouldve made Henry Ford proud of their run manufacturing skills in the first inning. Gregor Blanco laced a single, stole second base, took third on Ryan Theriots sacrifice bunt and scored the tying run on Melky Cabreras sacrifice fly to left field.But the Giants didnt get another hit until Angel Pagan hit a two-out double in the seventh. In fact, embarrassingly enough, they didnt hit a ball OUT OF THE INFIELD between Cabreras sacrifice fly in the first and Pagans double in the seventh.Jason Marquis used his sinker to keep them grounded the rest of the time. But the Giants made some noise in the eighth after Brandon Belt reached on shortstop Everth Cabreras sloppy throwing error. Joaquin Arias hit an infield single and took second on Marquis wild pitch, which also scored Belt. But Arias was thrown out at third base on Eli Whitesides ground ball when Cabrera made an athletic stop in the hole and threw to third base.The baserunning mistake minimized what could have been a huge inning. Nate Schierholtz hit a pinch single off lefty Joe Thatcher and Ryan Theriot collected an RBI single off another specialist, right-hander Luke Gregerson. But Cabrera got too greedy while taking huge hacks at Huston Streets offerings. Cabrera, unable to tie the game with one swing, struck out.In fieldA day after making one of the greatest catches of the season to start a double play, Pagan came up jut short on a play that would have saved Lincecum two runs in the fourth inning.The Giants defense was an asset otherwise, especially as Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford combined for a 3-6-3 double play in the seventh. Jeremy Affeldt also picked a runner off first base.AttendanceThe Giants announced 41,871 paid for a not-so-happy Timmy Day.Up nextThe Giants take a day off Thursday before beginning a three-game showdown series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Itll be Matt Cain (10-3, 2.75) against a pitcher to be determined, followed on Saturday by Barry Zito (8-6, 3.75) vs. right-hander Chad Billingsley (5-9. 4.15). Ryan Vogelsong (8-4, 2.26) matches up with left-hander Clayton Kershaw (7-6. 3.14) in Sundays series finale.

Reliable on the mound, Melancon seeks thrills off of it

Reliable on the mound, Melancon seeks thrills off of it

SAN FRANCISCO — At his introductory press conference Friday, new Giant Mark Melancon was asked about the fearlessness it takes to be a big league closer. He looked down at the first row of seats, where his wife Mary Catherine was sitting in a brand new No. 41 jersey, smiling. 

“You should probably ask my wife that,” Melancon joked.

When the Melancons got married, Mary Catherine had a calligrapher write up an actual bucket list of things the two could do together and presented it to Mark as a wedding gift. 

“It’s framed and it’s in our bathroom,” Mark said during an interview with CSN Bay Area on Friday. “It’s literally in our bathroom and we look at it all the time and try to plan out what we’re going to get done. Because it is on paper and it’s a goal and all that, we’ve checked off probably 40 or 50 percent of it in six years.”

The check marks include biking down the world’s “most dangerous road” in Bolivia and diving with great white sharks near New Zealand. The Melancons have visited Dubai and gone on a safari and stayed in countless cities off the beaten path. They have gone underwater with manta rays and high in the air in a blimp. Some of the items are simple ones, like attending a Nascar race. 

“There are a few items we’ll have to wait for until after baseball,” Melancon said. “We try to keep it safe of course, but it’s just a lot of fun. It’s a way to kind of bring creativity and allow ourselves to do things you could easily say no to.”

The standard MLB contract prohibits quite a few “dangerous” activities, and with a four-year, $62 million deal that is currently the second-biggest ever for a reliever, Melancon will hold off on certain trips, like skiing the Swiss Alps. “Attend the Kentucky Derby” is on the bucket list, but because the Derby is in May, that one is saved for retirement. In his first year with the Giants, Melancon hopes to put a check mark next to “sit backstage at a concert.”

Melancon said the thrill-seeking has slowed down a bit because the couple now has three young children, two daughters and a son. The Giants are hoping the more relaxed vibe carries over into their ninth innings. Team officials have been told by past Melancon employers that they signed a closer who is “boring” on the mound, in a good way. With a cutter-heavy approach, Melancon tends to get his ninth-inning work done quickly and without drama. That’s a welcome change of pace for an organization that has grown accustomed to “torture” late in games. 

“He was our target and we’ve gotten to know him, and the more we’ve gotten to know him the better we’ve felt about the fact that he was really meant to be a Giant,” team president and CEO Larry Baer said. 

The Giants had Melancon as their top offseason choice — and only big offseason expenditure — all along. Team officials feel even better about that approach after watching Melancon tour the ballpark Friday morning and meet with season-ticket holders and team employees. The fit was an easy one, with one member of the front office saying Melancon is “practically straight out of Giants central casting.”

Melancon’s new teammates feel the same way. He said eight to 10 of them have reached out since the deal was announced Monday. The group includes the types of players who are on any free agent’s bucket list of potential teammates. A ground ball pitcher, Melancon is looking forward to working with a Gold Glove infield. 

“That’s kind of an attractive thing to have a couple of Gold Glovers (up the middle) and then being able to throw to Buster is icing on the cake,” he said. “When you put things together on paper and go ‘who do you want to throw to and back you up,’ this team stands out.”

Dexter Fowler leaves Cubs, signs $82.5 million deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler leaves Cubs, signs $82.5 million deal with Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler is headed from the World Series champions to their biggest rival.

After helping the Chicago Cubs end their long championship drought, he finalized an $82.5 million, five-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. Fowler fills the last big hole left in the Cardinals lineup after moves made earlier in the offseason to shore up the bullpen.

"It was an honor just to be considered to be in the Cardinals organization," said Fowler, who will wear No. 25 in honor of his mentor, Barry Bonds, because his usual 24 is retired by the Cardinals.

"You play against the Cardinals, I've been playing against them for eight years now," Fowler said, "and they always come out fighting. Always fighting. And then being with a rival, being the Cubs however many times we play them a year, you see them and - it's always good a winning team wants you."

Fowler was also a free agent a year ago, when he spurned a $33 million, three-year offer from Baltimore, who refused to offer an opt out after one year, and signed a $13 million, one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. He hit .276 with 13 homers and a career-best .393 on-base percentage that landed him in his first All-Star Game, then had a pair of home runs in helping the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years.

"Playing over there, and playing against the Cardinals, you see them and you saw that they weren't far away," Fowler said. "Obviously they beat up on us, we beat up on them. It was almost even. It was one day or another. I can't put my finger on one thing or another, but we're definitely close."

His new deal calls for a $10 million signing bonus, payable in $1 million installments each July 1 and Oct. 1 for the next five years, and annual salaries of $14.5 million.

He gets a full no-trade provision, $50,000 bonuses for making the All-Star Game and winning a Gold Glove, a $25,000 bonus for a Silver Slugger, $100,000 for League Championship Series MVP and $150,000 for World Series MVP. He would get $250,000 for NL MVP, $150,000 for finishing second in voting and $100,000 for third through fifth. He would get $50,000 for Division Series MVP if the award is created.

One of the goals this offseason for St. Louis was to get more athletic, both defensively and on the base paths. Fowler was identified early in the process as someone who filled that role.

"He was always someone we were hoping to sign," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said, "but after this past week at winter meetings ... we certainly wanted to get this done. And we're excited we got this done."

The lanky 30-year-old from Atlanta is a .268 career hitter over nine seasons with Colorado, Houston and the Cubs. He's expected to slot into the Cardinals' leadoff spot, giving St. Louis a switch-hitter in front of lefty-hitting Matt Carpenter and righties Aledmys Diaz, Stephen Piscotty and Yadier Molina.

"You obviously have great presence at the top of the lineup," manager Mike Matheny said. "The athleticism, the excitement of bringing in a player that has all those physical attributes, I think it's been well-said, this is the guy we were hoping to be sitting up here with."

Fowler said negotiations with the Cardinals were easy with one notable exception.

"We were on a 2-hour time difference, and I guess he wanted to get in touch with me," Fowler said, "but I was in the dentist chair, so he couldn't get in touch."

So, Fowler sent his agent Casey Close a photo of him to pass along to Mozeliak - "That was a first for me, that kind of photo," the GM said - and everything proceeded smoothly after that.

The news of his signing started breaking while Fowler was on a plane to St. Louis, and that also created some problems: namely, with his sleep. People started coming up to him while he was trying to take a nap and asking him whether the news was true.

"I was like, 'Uh, you know, I don't know,'" Fowler said with a grin. "It was definitely funny."

Fowler is eager to help the Cardinals add their 12th World Series championship.

"This is a baseball city," said Fowler. "The fans, every time you come here, you see red everywhere. That's awesome to see. Even going through our parade (in Chicago), you saw Cardinals fans out there. They've won World Series (and) they're poised to be back in the World Series and win again. That was a big part of my decision."

The Cardinals were investigating the trade market for an outfielder during the winter meetings, but decided Fowler was their best option. Because Fowler did not accept Chicago's $17.2 million qualifying offer, St. Louis forfeits its top draft pick next June, No. 18 overall, and the Cubs get an extra selection after the first round as compensation

It was a sacrifice the Cardinals were willing to make to not only improve their lineup, but snag a piece away from their biggest rival in the NL Central.

"There's always the baseball angle in all decisions, but there's also the human element," Mozeliak said. "We think about him as a leader. He wants to have a voice in that clubhouse. When you think back to wanting to change the culture of what we have going on - we like what we have, but now it's even better."