EXTRA BAGGS: Giants play matador, fluffy schedule ahead, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Giants play matador, fluffy schedule ahead, etc.

MIAMI -- It was obvious that the Giants were determined notto let Giancarlo Stanton beat them on Sunday.

I suppose thats a smart idea -- and a tad overdue -- considering he was 12 for 25with four home runs and five doubles in six games against them.

For the first time in the season series, Stanton was heldhitless against the Giants. Homerless too, obviously.

He tried, Matt Cain said, smirking. He sniffed the wall,didnt he?
RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- Giants 3, Marlins 2

Yes, he did. It sure sounded like the Timothy Leary home runstructure at Marlins Park would go all trippy when Stanton cracked a boomingfly ball to center field in the sixth. But it was hit more high than deep, andalthough center fielder Angel Pagan stutter-stepped a bit as the ball startedbanana cutting in the air, he was able to make the catch short of the warningtrack.

Banana cutting aside, it was clear the Giants had nointention of trying to slip anything past Stanton. Cain walked him in the fifthinning. Sergio Romo did the same in the eighth.

I definitely dont like to give a guy a free pass, Cainsaid. But hes been swinging so well. If youre keeping him in the park, itsusually pretty good.

Said Romo: "Youve got to respect what he can do on thefield. I went out with my best stuff. I fell behind. From there, Ill do mybest to get him, but tip your cap. He laid off some good pitches.

Romo didnt give in, and part of that means trusting therelievers behind you to get the next guy. Thats exactly what Javier Lopez andSantiago Casilla did while recording a strikeout apiece to escape the eighth with the one-run lead intact.

Its that belief in each other that makes a good bullpengreat. And the same is often true for a lineup.

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Other than bringing in Romo at the right time, this wasnt the best strategic performance from Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

The Giants really shouldnt have used an exaggerated infieldshift on Logan Morrison, whom nobody confuses with Ryan Howard or Barry Bonds.Morrison beat it with a bunt single that led to a run in the fifth inning.

And Bochy picked a far too obvious spot to try to squeeze inthe ninth. Pagan broke from third base on the first pitch to Joaquin Arias, thengot caught in a rundown when the Marlins pitched out. (Incidentally, replays appeared to show Pagan evadedthe tag of third baseman Hanley Ramirez and Pagan said he never felt anything swipe hisjersey. He didnt tag me, said Pagan, who was called out.)

The squeeze was a good play there, but only if the countgets to 2-0 or even 1-0 after the first pitchout. Usually Bochy is pretty cageyabout those. This time, the subterfuge was lacking and Marlins manager OzzieGuillen is no dummy.

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Bochy credited the Giants defense with one of its best gamesthis season.

Arias, who was playing so deep at third base that hemightve been standing in Biscayne Bay, made a terrific, charging,barehand-scoop and throw on a slow chopper to nip Stanton at first base in thesecond inning.

And Ryan Theriot made a great stop and jump throw on LoganMorrison to save two runs in the sixth.

Cain enjoyed watching Theriot make that play, as well astrying to trip himself on ground balls hit to him.

Its amazing how it's only taken Arias a couple games thisspring and during the season to begin to look comfortable at third base. In aspan of 17 starts, hes gone from marginal to solidly above average, borderingon exceptional. Its to the point where its fair to wonder if the Giantsdefense will receive a downgrade when Pablo Sandoval comes back.

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Melky Cabrera's 73 hits are the second most through 48 games in the Giants SanFrancisco era, and here's the best part about digging up that stat:

It makes you appreciate the greatness of Willie Mays all themore.
BAGGARLY: Cabrera amazes, outhits his Giants teammates in pivotal win

Cabrera, as incredible as hes been, isnt even close towhat Mays accomplished through 48 games in 1958. The Say Hey Kid had 84 hits through that many games in the franchise's first season on the West Coast.

I told Bochy of Mays' total and his eyes got wide.

Wow. Thats almost two hits a game, Bochy said.

And Mays wasnt even a leadoff hitter. He had a .424 averageat that time, and finished the year at .347 with 208 hits.

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After seeing the Marlins seven times, heres my take: IfHanley Ramirez were the player he was a couple years ago, theyd be one of thebest teams in the NL. Instead, theyll do well to contend into September.There just aren't enough sticks in that lineup. The lower third of the order isworse than what the Giants throw out there.

And Hanley is just awful. Hes taking so many called thirdstrikes and not hitting anything with authority. That big spring was a mirage.

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The Giants are entering a fluffy part of the schedule.Theyll play 12 of the next 15 at home, and 10 of those games will come againstthe Cubs, Padres and Astros. (Although Houston is more dangerousthan you might think.)

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have a four-game home series withMilwaukee and then hit the road for a 10-game trip.

Bochy said he wasnt paying any mind to the schedule. He wasnt evenaware that the Giants deficit in the NL West was 7.5 games entering Sunday.

Thats a mistake and it can come back to bite you, saidBochy, who doesnt want his players to take anyone lightly. You can drop yourguard. You show up to play and it shouldnt have anything to do with the teamyoure playing. Thats the last thing I ever look at.

Its vital for the Giants to get well and win athome, regardless of the opponent. The Dodgers entered Sunday 20-5 at DodgerStadium. But the Giants are just 12-10 at AT&T Park, a venue that should bea perfect fit for the way they plan to win games.

If the Giants are winning at home the way they should, a 4-3road trip is worthy of fireworks. Instead, its just mildly satisfying.

Notes: Ex-Giants not getting much traction, not expected to return

Notes: Ex-Giants not getting much traction, not expected to return

SOMEWHERE IN THE AIR, United States — On the first day of the Winter Meetings, I discovered that my hotel room for the week was a few doors down from a section of rooms and suites dedicated to the Chicago Cubs. So either I have a lot of juice with Marriott or the Cubs have very little juice. 

They were a happy group as they came in and out, and for good reason. The Cubs are the reigning champions and they’re the heavy favorites going into 2017. Every other team at the Gaylord National Resort was chasing Theo Epstein and his guys. The Giants, after landing closer Mark Melancon, feel they have the firepower to compete with the Cubs. 

The Melancon move is the big one of the Giants’ offseason and it obscured just about everything else. Here are some other notes, quotes and rumors from five days at the Winter Meetings: 

--- Bobby Evans said the Aroldis Chapman deal ($86 million) came in right around where the Giants expected. The two sides never met in person, and while the Giants kept tabs on the Chapman market, he was always viewed as an unlikely choice. Part of that has to do with a 30-game suspension last season for a domestic violence incident. Evans said the off-field stuff was “not lost on us.” The Giants knew many of their fans were strongly opposed to a Chapman deal. 

“Our hearts and minds were really focused on one guy,” Evans said as he discussed the closer market. It was Melancon, and the Giants got the guy who will now head a bullpen that blew 30 saves during the regular season. 

Evans took some good-natured shots at that number, by the way. He pointed out that many of those “blown saves” came in the sixth or seventh innings and the Giants won a lot of those games. The more important number for the front office was ninth-inning blown saves that led to losses. The Giants lost nine such games, including five in September. 

“That’s the difference,” Evans said. “If you reduce that number to five or four, then that’s maybe the difference in your division.”

The Giants finished four games behind the Dodgers.

--- Joe Maddon said his biggest fear in the postseason was facing Johnny Cueto in Game 5.

--- Angel Pagan was not at the ballpark for the final game of the season. He had an injection in his injured back and was allowed to stay home to try and recover. The Giants told Pagan to prepare for a Game 5, but some team officials believe his postseason was probably over regardless of how far the Giants got. 

--- It was a little surprising, by the way, how little mention there was of Pagan and other Giants free agents. Pagan was briefly connected to the Orioles at one point but otherwise his name has not come up. There are no Gregor Blanco rumors, and nothing significant with Sergio Romo, Jake Peavy, Javier Lopez or Santiago Casilla. 

Giants people who have talked to Romo say he has at least a couple of offers and he’s confident he’ll find a good fit. Lopez is said to be headed for retirement unless an East Coast team (he lives in Georgia) makes a great offer. Peavy is said to be ready to fight for a job as a non-roster invitee in spring training. It seems the majority of the ex-Giants might have to go the non-roster route. Currently, none are expected to return to San Francisco. 

--- Gordon Beckham is technically a “Giants free agent” and several people in the clubhouse approacedh management to relay what a positive impact Beckham had in his week there. He is the kind of energetic, ball-busting presence that helps over a 162-game season, and everyone in the organization loved having him around, but they’re looking for power bats right now when it comes to the bench. 

--- Ramiro Pena is close to a deal to return as a non-roster invitee. The Giants will also add a catcher for Triple-A depth. They’re selecting from a group that includes former Dodgers and Cubs catcher Tim Federowicz. 

--- There will be new managers up and down the minor league system. The affiliates are expected to announce those choices soon. 

--- At the risk of wiping out a bunch of future "The Player to be Named Later has not been named" tweets, here's how it works: The Giants gave the Mariners a small list of prospects they'll watch in spring training, and they'll scout them and choose one player as the return for Chris Heston. It will not be a significant prospect. 

--- Under Armour will be the exclusive uniform provider of MLB starting in 2020, and all jerseys will have a small Under Armour logo on the chest. No exceptions, from the awful Diamondbacks jerseys to the Yankees pinstripes to the Giants. It was bound to happen eventually. The Giants have some of Under Armour’s most prominent baseball players, including Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Joe Panik. 

--- The Giants never had any intention of pursuing a reunion with Pablo Sandoval. If they can add depth at third, they will, but for now Eduardo Nuñez is slated to be the opening day starter. Keep in mind, too, that Christian Arroyo will primarily play third base in the minors from now on. 

--- Bill Hayes, who was relieved of his duties as first-base coach, will stay with the big league staff. His exact role has not been determined. Roberto Kelly will not return in a different role. 

--- CSN did a bunch of one-on-one interviews this week, and two of them — Evans and Bruce Bochy — are available here as podcasts. If you’re a fan of the podcast, please consider hitting subscribe on iTunes. It’s good for the pod. 

--- In case you missed it: Here's an explanation of why the Giants are unlikely to add an expensive outfielder. The Giants currently have four players set for the WBC. Hensley Meulens will manage the Netherlands. Ryan Vogelsong helped Melancon choose the Giants. Bochy on if he has any postseason regrets. 

--- Melancon will be introduced at a 1 p.m. press conference on Friday. It will air on CSN Bay Area and you can stream it on this website. 
 

Wife of former Giants outfielder Andres Torres passes away

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Twitter/BengieMolina1

Wife of former Giants outfielder Andres Torres passes away

Former Giants outfielder Andres Torres lost his wife on Wednesday evening.

Soannie Torres passed away from cancer.

Andres played for the Giants from 2009 to 2011 and again in 2013.

During the Giants' World Series run in 2010, he hit .268 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI over 139 regular season games.

In the World Series against the Rangers, he batted .318 and hit a home run.

Torres was the 2010 winner of the Willie Mac Award, -- given annually to the Giants' most inspirational player.

To donate to the Soannie Torres Memorial Fund, click here.