Baggs' Instant Replay: Pirates 3, Giants 1


Baggs' Instant Replay: Pirates 3, Giants 1


PITTSBURGH Back in April, when James McDonalds single was the only thing that separated Matt Cain from a perfect game, the Pirates pitcher expressed surprising remorse.

Wonder what hes feeling now?

McDonald injured the Giants in a much different way on a brutally hot Saturday afternoon at PNC Park. He pitched masterfully over seven innings, mixing a boring fastball with breaking pitches on the black while striking out 10. Ryan Vogelsong could not match him as the Giants lost 3-1 to even the series.
Starting pitching report

A Giant has not entered the All-Star break as the NL ERA leader since Atlee Hammaker (1.70) in 1993. Vogelsong (7-4) entered the day with the best mark in the league, at 2.26.

By the end of Saturdays proceedings, Vogelsong stood at 2.36 one point behind the Reds Johnny Cueto, who will start on Sunday. McDonald is right behind them both, at 2.37.

What else do Cueto, Vogelsong and McDonald have in common, other than ranking 1-2-3 in the NL in ERA? All three were snubbed for the NL All-Star team.

The Pirates scratched Vogelsong for a run in the third inning, when McDonald led off with a walk and scored from first base on Neil Walkers double. Michael McKenry, the Pirates backup catcher, hit his seventh homer of the season a solo shot in the fourth.

The Pirates plated a third run in the sixth when Andrew McCutchen singled and scored on Pedro Alvarezs opposite-field double. The drive missed being a home run by a foot or two, as it struck high off the wall in the left field corner.

Vogelsong still fought through the heat and a 27-minute rain delay to provide a quality start for the 15th time in 16 assignments. He has completed at least six innings every time hes taken the mound this season.

Bullpen report

Santiago Casilla was unavailable because of his blister, but the Giants didnt need him. At least they were able to get a day of rest for interim-interim closer Sergio Romo.

At the plate

The Giants were sunk the moment the Pirates put a run on the board. McDonald entered with an 8-3 record, and the Pirates were shut out in all three of his losses including that April game at AT&T Park against Cain.

McDonald faced one more than the minimum in the first five innings. They broke through for a run in the sixth when Gregor Blanco hit a two-out single, advanced on a wild pitch and Ryan Theriot came through with an RBI single in a terrific at-bat. He was down 0-2 before working the count full, then grounded his hit through the middle.
In field

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval ranged to make a nice play that saved a run in the sixth inning and Blanco made a sliding catch in the third, but the Pirates flashed the leather when it most mattered.

After Blanco reached on a bunt single in the ninth, shortstop Clint Barmes turned into a vacuum cleaner on a pair of grounders. Buster Posey flung his helmet after right fielder Garrett Jones ran down a deep drive in the right field corner.


The Pirates announced 34,545 paid on Sauna Day at the ballpark.

Up next

The Giants finish their road trip and the unofficial first half with an afternoon game under sweltering skies at PNC Park. Tim Lincecum (3-9, 6.08) will try to keep from melting down against right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-2. 3.74). First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. EDT.

If Cubs get to World Series, injured slugger could make surprise return


If Cubs get to World Series, injured slugger could make surprise return

As if the possibility of clinching their first National League pennant in 71 years didn’t create enough drama and excitement in Wrigleyville, the Cubs have sent Kyle Schwarber to the Arizona Fall League, hoping he can add another chapter to his October legend.
Schwarber earned this chance after beating every expectation in his recovery from major surgery on his left knee in April. The Cubs haven’t ruled anything in or out – and still need to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers one more time this weekend – but they want to see how he responds on Saturday with the Mesa Solar Sox and ultimately decide if he would be a viable designated-hitter option for the World Series.
Schwarber gained clearance on Monday from Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating outfield collision during the first week of the regular season. Schwarber immediately phoned president of baseball operations Theo Epstein after the six-month checkup.   
“I wasn’t expecting the call,” Epstein said. “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard. 
“He asked for a chance to do this. And with as hard as Kyle has worked and as much as this means to him – and potentially to us – we wanted to give him that opportunity.”


Kershaw stands between Cubs and first World Series since 1945

Kershaw stands between Cubs and first World Series since 1945

Clayton Kershaw stands between the Cubs and the World Series, a possibility that left veteran catcher David Ross thinking about Ric Flair inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse late Thursday night: To be The Man, you got to beat The Man. 

“Woo!” That’s how the Cubs like to punctuate their postgame celebration routine, channeling the professional wrestling legend in a ritual with so much sensory overload that the fog machine set off fire alarms throughout the underground Wrigley Field lair…after a win in the middle of August. “Woo!” 
The Cubs left Los Angeles one win away from their first National League pennant since 1945, and with two chances to pull it off this weekend at Wrigley Field, beginning on Saturday night in Game 6. So imagine how this crew would trash the Party Room if they beat Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. 

“The guy competes,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s pretty much like mechanics be damned, it’s just about me beating you somehow. 

“He’s got a good fastball that he locates. He doesn’t walk people. He’s got a dynamic curve and slider. And he’s got deception. He’s a little bit funky, and that’s got to be hard to pick up. The ball gets on you pretty quickly, and then he commands it. 

“So there’s nothing you could possibly ask for that he doesn’t already have.”

Now we’ll see if something clicked while the Cubs turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 NLCS lead – handling rookie starters Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda and the softer parts of the Los Angeles bullpen – or if those 18 runs combined in Games 4 and 5 were a mirage.

In 16-plus innings so far, the Cubs still haven’t scored a run off Kershaw, if-necessary Game 7 lefty starter Rich Hill or dominating closer Kenley Jansen, who got this review from Maddon: “He’s like a 100-pound heavier version of Mariano Rivera. He’s the bigger man with the same kind of stuff.”