Day baseball as Giants, Lincecum go for sweep

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Day baseball as Giants, Lincecum go for sweep

July 20, 2011

L.A. DODGERS (42-55) vs.
GIANTS (57-41)

Coverage begins at Noon on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants have one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. Their performance at the plate, however, leaves much to be desired.

While he's not the biggest name on the market, newly acquired Jeff Keppinger may be able to boost the club offensively.

Seeking a seventh consecutive win over their archrival for the first time in 73 years, the Giants could have Keppinger in the lineup for his debut as they try for a three-game sweep of the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers in an enticing matchup of aces Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday.

San Francisco (57-41) defeated Los Angeles 5-3 on Tuesday behind a home run and three RBIs from recently recalled Brandon Belt and eight solid innings from Madison Bumgarner.

URBAN: Busy day and another win for Giants

Manager Bruce Bochy's starters rank third in the majors with a 3.23 ERA, but his offense is among the bottom third in nearly every offensive category, including runs per game (3.68), homers (64) and average (.244).

"Without being harsh, this group just isn't getting it done," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said before Tuesday's victory. "We need to somehow extend the lineup any way we can, and we think (acquiring Keppinger) is an upgrade."

With infielders Freddy Sanchez and Miguel Tejada on the disabled list, San Francisco got Keppinger from Houston for two Double-A pitchers on Tuesday. Keppinger, who homered twice in his last three games with the Astros and is batting .307, is expected to hit second for the Giants.

"I get to go to a team that's in contention," Keppinger said. "This will be the first time I've ever actually been on a team that's been in first place or even with a winning record. It's definitely exciting and that's what you want when you play this game."

URBAN: Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular

The Giants, who have outscored the Dodgers 30-16 during their six-game winning streak in the series, haven't won seven in a row since a 12-game run Oct. 2, 1937-July 4, 1938, when they played in New York and the Dodgers in Brooklyn.

San Francisco has a good chance to extend its run with Lincecum (8-7, 2.99 ERA) on the hill.

Since compiling a 9.39 ERA over his first three starts in June, Lincecum has thrived, going 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA while striking out 45 over his last six outings spanning 37 innings.

The right-hander wasn't at his best during Friday's 6-1 win at San Diego, but earned the victory after allowing one run, three hits and three walks in six frames.

"He didn't quite pitch as efficient as he'd like, but overall it's a good job," Bochy said. "His command wasn't quite as sharp, but he found a way to give us six solid innings."

Lincecum has also frustrated the Dodgers of late, limiting them to five earned runs over the last three meetings. He is 3-0 with a 2.83 ERA in five career home starts against Los Angeles.

The Dodgers (42-55) counter with Kershaw (10-4, 2.88), who also has flourished in this matchup. He's compiled a 1.62 ERA in nine career appearances - eight starts - against the Giants, his second-lowest mark versus any NL team.

The left-hander has been superb over his last five starts overall, going 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA. He gave up four unearned runs and five hits in seven innings of Friday's 6-4 win at Arizona.

Kershaw might need to carry a Dodgers team that has scored a combined six runs while batting .173 during its current four-game skid.

"It's kind of the same story for us," manager Don Mattingly said. "The one big hit, or the one big out we need, we're not getting."

A's spring training Day 14: A one-sided Cactus League rivalry

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A's spring training Day 14: A one-sided Cactus League rivalry

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Debate the significance of an A’s exhibition win over the Giants if you will, but don’t question its significance to Bob Melvin.

Beating the team in black and orange means a lot to Oakland’s manager no matter what the calendar reads. On Monday, the teams played a late-February game under an overcast sky and occasional light rain at Scottsdale Stadium.

Not exactly regular-season like conditions. And with both teams’ everyday players having exited the game early, the A’s held on for a 5-4 victory that ran their Cactus League winning streak to seven over the Giants.

Counting exhibitions in the Bay Area too, the A’s are 18-6 against their Bay Area rival in their past 24 spring games.

“Look, when the Giants and A’s play, there’s a little more to it,” said Melvin, who grew up in the Bay Area and played three seasons for the Giants. “You play your spring games and you’re excited about getting to play these guys. And, especially, our youngsters should be. They know the way I feel about it. The whole Bay Area is watching when we play each other.”

Matt Joyce homered deep to right off Jeff Samardzija in the top of the first, giving the first-year Athletic two home runs in two games with his new club. Stephen Vogt blooped an RBI single in the first and Ryon Healy doubled home two runs in the second.

The Giants rallied to tie it 4-4 in the seventh with three runs off minor league reliever Trey Cochran-Gill. But Adam Rosales drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth to give the A’s the lead back as they posted their first victory in three Cactus League games this spring.

NOTEWORTHY: Starters Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea both threw for the A’s, with Manaea in particular earning strong praise for his two scoreless innings.

The lefty felt very good about his slider and changeup, and according to Healy, when he went to the plate for his third at-bat, Giants catcher Buster Posey commented on how good Manaea’s changeup looked. Manaea got both Posey and Kelby Tomlinson swinging on the pitch in the third.

It was the slider, his third-best pitch, that Manaea is trying to hone.

“I was really, really happy with how my slider was,” he said. “It was probably the best one I’ve thrown in a couple years. It just felt really good out of my hand and had some good movement.”

Added Melvin: “If he gets that one to (the) back foot of a rightie, now he’s going to have three plus-pitches.”

Graveman escaped his one and only inning of work unscored upon when he stranded runners on second and third.

NEW GUYS: Joyce, likely to platoon in right field with Mark Canha, has played in two exhibitions, and twice he’s gone deep on 1-2 fastballs that caught the inner half of the plate. On Monday, Melvin batted him second and Joyce went deep off Samardzija.

“I can’t even talk to that guy,” Healy said with a smile. “He says he’s just trying to put the bat on the ball, and he has two homers.”

As for another first-year Athletic, there’s still no concrete word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will report to camp. He remains held up in the Dominican Republic as the visa process plays out. Melvin admitted a bit of concern just because Casilla is slated to play for his national team in the World Baseball Classic, and Melvin would like to get Casilla in camp for a stretch before he departs for that.

The Dominican Republic plays its first game March 9 in Miami.

“I’d like to get him here — I’d like to meet him,” Melvin said. “It’s not his fault.”

Melvin said a typical schedule would have relievers appearing in nine or 10 exhibitions before the team heads north, but that he didn’t think that would be necessary for Casilla. It’s also worth noting that none of the A’s other front-line relievers have pitched in their first game yet.

ODDS AND ENDS: Vogt, getting his first start behind the plate, and Rajai Davis each had two hits. … Shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect, played the final four innings at second base. Yairo Munoz, another highly touted infield prospect who’s in his first big league camp, entered in the same inning at third base. … Melvin praised reliever Kyle Finnegan, who came over from minor league camp for the day and handled the ninth for the save.

Giants spring training Day 15: Arroyo picks up where he left off

Giants spring training Day 15: Arroyo picks up where he left off

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants do not expect Christian Arroyo, their top hitting prospect, to get a lot of at-bats in a camp filled with veteran infielders. But the 21-year-old continues to make the most of every opportunity he gets. 

Arroyo hit a scorching single to left in his first at-bat Monday. When he came up with the bases loaded in the seventh, he poked a single into right, tying the game. Arroyo grounded out in his final at-bat, ending his perfect run this spring. With three hits in his first four at-bats down here, Arroyo is now 17-for-30 in three springs in big league camp.

“It’s the same (thing) he did last spring,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s getting great at-bats and playing well at shortstop. In the early go here, he’s playing the kind of ball that he was last spring. His mechanics are very solid. It’s a good foundation, good balance, and he doesn’t try to do too much. The bat stays in the zone a long time and he uses the whole field well. He’s a good hitter. He’s only going to hit for more power. The power is going to come, too.”

A move to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League should help. No matter what Arroyo does this spring, the Giants will send him to Triple-A if their 40-man guys are healthy. But Arroyo’s time is coming, and it’s coming soon. 

For more on Arroyo, here’s a feature I wrote about him last week. Here’s more from the first day of the third week of spring training … 

GAME RECAP: The Giants will not go undefeated this season. They lost to the A’s for the 124th consecutive time in the Cactus League, this time by a score of 5-4 … Michael Morse got the first hit of his comeback attempt. His pinch-hit single up the middle in the seventh drove in a run. In the eighth, he lined a two-strike single to right … Brandon Belt hit his first homer of the spring. It was the 24th of his spring training career. You can see it here … Bochy was impressed with Jose Dominguez, who struck out one in a scoreless inning. 

STOCK WATCH: Orlando Calixte played right field, after previously seeing time at short and second this spring. “He’s intriguing,” Bochy said. “He showed the arm off in right field. He’s a good shortstop and plays second and third. He’s a good athlete.” The Giants plan to carry five outfielders, but if none of the right-handed bats break through, they could always carry Calixte as a super-utility guy. Remember, he’s on the 40-man roster. 

CUETO UPDATE: The co-ace still is not in big league camp, or on the way. Here’s the latest on Johnny Cueto. 

TRAINER’S ROOM: This room now belongs to Anthony Reyes, as Dave Groeschner is off to South Korea with Hensley Meulens and Team Netherlands. Will Smith (elbow) threw off flat ground and everything went fine. Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) will likely resume playing third base later this week.

QUOTABLE: “To have that splitter that out of the hand looks like a heater, for me, that’s huge.” — Jeff Samardzija on a pitch that helped him dominate in September. Here’s more on Samardzija and his plans for 2017.