D'Backs jumping on Giants early


D'Backs jumping on Giants early

PHOENIX For all the talk about this retooled Giants lineupand its ability to start fast, its the top of their vaunted rotation that isstumbling at the outset.

Less than 24 hours after the Arizona Diamondbacks shockedTim Lincecum in the first inning on opening day, their power-packed lineup senta pair of early jolts through young Madison Bumgarner. Aaron Hill took the22-year-old left-hander deep in each of the first two innings and the Giantswerent able to rally all the way back in a 5-4 loss at Chase Field onSaturday.

BAGGARLY: Giants come up short again, fall to D'Backs 5-4

Itll be up to Matt Cain -- once the Brinks truck finishesdelivering the signing bonus from his 112.5 million extension -- to help theGiants avoid being swept to open the season.

A clean first inning would help. The Diamondbacks havescored five runs in the opening frame against Lincecum and Bumgarner. Thistime, Hill connected for a solo shot and Chris Young pelted an RBI double offthe wall before Bumgarner could get back in the dugout after throwing 32pitches.

Hill launched a two-run shot off Bumgarner in the secondinning, putting the Giants in a 4-0 hole.

Pablo Sandoval and pinch hitter Brett Pill hit two-run homers,but for the second consecutive night, the Giants couldnt rally all the wayback.

Similar game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. These guysare trying to get settled in and (Arizona) is taking advantage of mistakes.Its a good sign the way were coming back, but thats a tough challenge aheadof you.

Itll be tough all season if their rotation doesnt begin topost some zeroes early. Then again, this is just two games. And althoughLincecum didnt exactly look great while hovering between 89-91 mph in theopener, he and Bumgarner both settled down and pitched effectively after theearly turbulence.

Theyll be fine, Bochy said. Bumgarner was just missingspots and this is a good hitting ballclub. You never know what youre going toget, but with our starters, Ill say this: We like our chances.

Bochy pulled Bumgarner for pinch hitter Nate Schierholtz inthe top of the fifth; the left-hander allowed seven hits and walked two whilestriking out three in his four innings. Bochy said Bumgarner wanted tocontinue, and if it were later in the season, he wouldve stayed with him.

"Its not the time to overtax him, Bochy said.

Although Lincecums shaky start shouldnt have come as acomplete surprise given the way he looked this spring, Bumgarner had givenevery impression that hed be ready to blow the doors off the station wagonfrom the first pitch. He was dominant most of the spring while posting a27-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He said his pitches were just missing up in the zone aproblem he doesnt expect to continue.

Id like to get started off on a good note, but I feel wayahead of where I was at this time last year, said Bumgarner, who was 0-6 afterhis first eight outings in 2011. Today, early, I was off. But I had a goodspring. I dont think itll carry over.

Even through his rough April and May last season, Bumgarnerdidnt give up many homers. His two gopherballs to Hill matched the number hethrew in his first 13 starts last season.

Bumgarner also lost for the first time in seven careerappearances against the Diamondbacks; he had been 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA againstthem.

If youre searching for positives, here are seven of them:The number of runs theyve scored against Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, theDiamondbacks top two starters who shut them down last season.

Hudson had allowed just a single to Bumgarner until thefourth, when Melky Cabrera singled and Sandoval hit what appeared to be a good,down-and-in pitch deep into the right field seats.

Arizona made it 5-2 after scoring a run off right-hander DanOtero in the fifth, but Brandon Belt drew a leadoff walk in the seventh andPills pinch homer knocked Hudson from the game.

It was the first pinch homer of Pills career. It alsomarked the second time he homered in his first big league at-bat of the year.Youll recall that last season, Pill became the first Giant since Will Clark (aquarter century earlier) to homer in his first big league plate appearance.

The first pitch was a slider and I looked pretty dumb onit, so I thought hed throw it again, Pill said. I guessed right and he hungthat one.

The Giants werent keen on putting Pill in highly leveragedsituations off the bench; they might be ready to reconsider now. Hes done itbefore, as he explained.

My freshman year in college, thats what I did mostly waspinch hit, said Pill, a product of Cal State Fullerton. That was a long timeago, but mentally, youre watching the pitcher and watching what hes doing.You know youve got to be aggressive out there. Youre not going to see toomany pitches. Other than that, its just staying loose.

The Giants managed just one baserunner in the final twoinnings against David Hernandez and closer J.J. Putz, who recorded his secondconsecutive save.

And still, Buster Posey hasnt caught nine innings. TheGiants hope to force the Diamondbacks to bat in the ninth in the series finale.

Posey, for one, doesnt expect to play from behind allseason.

These guys know what theyre doing, Posey said. Our guyshave a track record and we know how good they are. Its just the first couplegames, so, you know you keep going.

Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League


Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League

After being selected in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, catcher Aramis Garcia quickly opened eyes with his power. Garcia totaled 15 home runs between Rookie Ball and Short Season Single-A in only 28 games after the draft. 

The next year, Garcia equaled his 15 long balls and spent the majority of his first full pro season at High Single-A. He also improved overall as a hitter, raising his 2014 slash line of .225/.301/.343 to .264/.342/.431 in 2015. The next climb up the farm system ladder was set in place, until it was gone with an excruciating injury. 

Garcia's 2016 season was limited to 47 games played as he sustained a facial fracture in May while sliding into second base. In an attempt to break up a double play, Garcia took a knee to the face. The injury kept him out until the end of July.

When the chance to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions arose, Garcia jumped at the opportunity. 

"First thing I did was call my parents and let them know," Garcia told MLB.com on Monday. "I was just really excited for getting the opportunity to play against guys who are extremely talented and obviously make up for reps, which are extremely important."

Garcia never did exactly find his rhythm after the injury and finished the season batting .257/.323/.340 with two homers in 41 games. In the first half, the 23-year-old hit .298/.359/.369 compared to a lowly .200/.273/.300 in the second half. 

The catcher known more for his offense than defense, is off to a slow start at the plate while facing some of the top prospects in baseball. Throuh six games, he has gone 3-for-17 at the plate, good for a .176 average. But, Garcia acknowledged he's focusing heavily on his defense in the AFL. 

"I feel like when somebody tries to steal on me, I tend to take it a little bit personally," he said. "It's definitely something I take pride in, something I work on hard every day. There's a little routine I do with receiving and footwork, things like that every day."

Behind the dish, Garcia caught 38 percent of base runners looking to swipe a bag on him last season. Through his three years in the minors, Garcia has erased 34 percent of base stealers and owns a .993 fielding percentage. 

Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series


Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series

World Series ace Jon Lester is all set to start Game 1 for the Chicago Cubs.

Lester will be fully rested when he pitches Tuesday night at Cleveland. Corey Kluber will start for the Indians.

The 32-year-old lefty is 2-0 in three starts during this postseason, with wins over the Giants and Dodgers in the NL playoffs. He was 19-5 during the regular season.

Lester is 3-0 in three starts in the World Series with a sparkling 0.43 ERA. He helped the Boston Red Sox win championships in 2007 and 2013.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon says Lester is "really, really in the moment" right now.


Indians ace Corey Kluber will start Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.

Manager Terry Francona said Sunday that he will go with Kluber, an 18-ame winner during the regular season, in the opener on Tuesday night. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA in his first postseason.

Francona has right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin penciled in for Games 2 and 3, respectively. The order could change depending on how Bauer's injured right pinkie heals over the next few days.

Bauer's start in the AL Championship Series lasted less than one inning after his pinkie began bleeding against Toronto. He injured his finger when he sliced it open while repairing a drone.

Also, injured starter Danny Salazar could be available against the Cubs. Salazar hasn't pitched since Sept. 9 because of forearm tightness but he's made major progress in the past week and could be on the World Series roster.