A Giant Step -- Cain in Command in Game 2 Rout

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A Giant Step -- Cain in Command in Game 2 Rout

Oct. 28, 2010BOX SCORE GIANTS POSTGAME VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
Mychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- You want to slug it out? We can do that.You want to go the tidy, low-scoring route? We can do that, too.In fact, we can do them both in the same game if you arent tidy yourself.These were the messages delivered from the Giants to the Rangers in the first two games of the 2010 World Series. In Game 1 on Wednesday, San Francisco turned what was expected to be a pitching classic into an 18-run slugfest, handing ace Cliff Lee his first postseason loss.Game 2, until the very end, was the pitchers duel everyone expected, with Matt Cains brilliance besting that of C.J. Wilson. An eighth-inning meltdown by the Rangers bullpen made the 9-0 final score incredibly deceptive, but at this stage its all about the numbers in the win column.And with the series heading for the Lone Star State and Game 3 on Saturday, the Rangers dont yet have a number. The Giants have a 2-0 series lead -- Thursdays win pushing their postseason record to a remarkable 9-3 -- and theyll have to find a way to lose four of the next five games to not claim San Francisco's first world championship since moving from New York in 1958.In Major League Baseball history, 70 teams have taken a 2-0 lead in a seven-game series. Fifty-seven of them went on to win that series.Its nice to carry this kind of momentum out to Texas with us, said lefty reliever Javier Lopez, who got one of the biggest outs of the game. You want to win at home. We did that.Yeah, echoed Cain, who provided 7 23 innings of four-hit work. Weve put ourselves in a pretty good position.Cain, you should know, seems to have an almost allergic aversion to extolling his own virtues, so heres another numerical nugget to savor and tell part of his story: Cain, the most-tenured member of the team despite being just 26 years old, hasnt yet allowed an earned run during his first postseason stroll.And a stroll it really seems. Hes allowed 13 hits over three starts and 21 13 innings of dead-calm dominance.He executed his pitches, said Giants rookie catcher Buster Posey, who hasnt quite mastered the art of hyperbole himself. He threw them where he wanted to.Cain and Wilson both did, accomplishing what aces Tim Lincecum and Lee could not in Game 1, so early-inning traffic was light on the bases, while rush hour in the Bay Area ground onward.Neither pitcher faced a truly gelatinous jam through the game's first half, pounding the strike zone with efficiency and pace, with each team getting but one man as far as second base until the bottom of the fifth.Thats when Edgar Renteria landed the first haymaker of the night's fight, lifting a one-out pitch from Wilson into deep left field.
As Rangers outfielder David Murphy drifted toward the line, the ball drifted as well, eventually cascading through the marine layer that often protects flyball pitchers in San Francisco -- and into the delirious bleachers.With that, Renteria, who only recently regained the starting shortstop job that hes lost more than once this season, became the first Colombian player in World Series history to leave the yard.Hes just such a professional, Im so happy for him to enjoy that kind of moment, San Francisco second baseman Freddy Sanchez said.
Even when he wasnt playing, he came and worked every day, prepared as if he was. His influence in the clubhouse has been so valuable.Tasked with protecting a one-run lead and delivering a shutdown inning, Cain responded with some of his best work of the night, leaving runners at second and third in the top of the sixth. Michael Young and Josh Hamilton singled with one out and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch with Nelson Cruz at the plate. But two pitches later Cain retired Nelson on a foul pop. Three pitches after that, Ian Kinsler popped out to shallow right field.
"I got the right pitch. ... I popped it up," Cruz said.
Having already started his purposeful, triumphant stride toward the home dugout, Cains the sellout crowd acknowledged the escape a roar -- even before the ball settled safely into Cody Ross' glove.You saw him really bear down there, Posey offered, and that was about as colorful is it comes with the kid.Ross, by the way, doubled in his first at-bat, extending his storybook rip through autumn and pushing his postseason hitting streak to nine games. Hes hit safely in 11 of 12 playoff games this season.His Thursday contribution went beyond cursory, though. Hes Cody Ross, for the love of hot cocoa on Halloween. He impacts games, and he left his nightly mark in the bottom of the seventh.After working the count full against Wilson as the leadoff man in the inning, Ross fouled off four consecutive pitches before taking the 10th pitch of the at-bat -- and Wilsons 101st pitch of the evening.A mound conference ensued, during which it was decided that a developing blister on Wilsons pitching hand required discretion, so Rangers manager Ron Washington called on reliever and apparent Ponce de Leon shipmate Darren Oliver, a graying lefty who turned 40 shortly after the 2010 playoffs opened.Aubrey Huff grounded out to the right side, moving Ross into scoring position, and moments later Juan Uribe dumped a Texas Leaguer into right field. That brought Ross around third, across home and, presumably, straight into the heart of former Journey frontman-turned-Giants-mascot Steve Perry.Again facing the all-important shutdown inning, Cain issued a one-out walk to Elvis Andrus, who stole his way into scoring position. With his next pitch, Cain got Young on a fly ball to right before Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided 102 pitches was enough for the night.Lefty Javier Lopez was summoned to face the Hamilton and keep Cains postseason scoreless streak intact. The lefty slugger flew out harmlessly to center.We know he can hurt you, Lopez said. I try not to think about the individual matchup, though. I was just thinking we needed that out, and were fortunate to get it.And because he did, Perry -- from his perch on the suite level -- turned his inner lunatic meter up to 11 between innings and led the masses in the now-standard playing of Journeys Lights.Its such an incredible atmosphere here, Ross said. Everything is just, I dont know, crazy.An inning later it was lights-out for the Rangers, who issued four consecutive walks in the bottom of the eighth, pushing across the first two insurance runs before Renteria padded his stats with a two-run single.Aaron Rowand added a two-run rocket into Triples Alley, Andres Torres closed the scoring with an RBI double, and Guillermo Mota wrapped up the shutout in the ninth.As the water cannons exploded and the celebratory Tony Bennett tune was cued up on the stadium P.A., the Rangers filed into their church-quiet clubhouse losers of all 11 games theyve played in this park.This is the first time the AL champions have been down by two games this postseason
I certainly dont feel like were defeated, Washington said. But give their pitching credit. They took care of us.In other words: Messages received.
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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

OAKLAND — Their pitching staff got banged up throughout the night, but the A’s hope the only lasting damage they absorbed Tuesday night was on the scoreboard.

In the process of an 11-9 defeat to the Miami Marlins, they lost starting pitcher Jesse Hahn to a strained triceps and first baseman Yonder Alonso to a contusion on his right hand and wrist.

The early diagnosis showed they may have dodged a bullet with Alonso — X-rays came back negative for a fracture after he was hit flush in the wrist area on a pitch from lefty Jarlin Garcia. Alonso initially walked off the field after being hit, but after a few moments re-emerged and took first base to run. He was replaced on defense in the seventh.

“I’ve had some history with my hand,” Alonso said afterward. “I broke it three or four years ago. At the time when I got hit, I felt like that was the case all over again. The pain started going away, that’s when I realized I think I’m OK.”

Alonso’s wrist and hand began to swell while he was running the bases, and he had to exit the game. The first baseman had missed the four previous games with a sore left knee, then proceeded to homer in his first at-bat Tuesday, pulling him back into a tie with Khris Davis for the team homer lead at 13. Suffering another injury in the same game could be classified as rotten timing, but Alonso came away feeling fortunate all things considered.

“I think we got very lucky,” he said. “It got me right on the wrist but a little bit on the hand as well. We’re lucky that there’s no break. You just gotta move forward.”

Manager Bob Melvin said Alonso would be a game-time decision for whether he’ll start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but with the A’s off Thursday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they rested Alonso in an attempt to let him heal up for Friday’s road trip opener against the Yankees.

Hahn’s condition seems more ambiguous, and perhaps more troubling. He said he felt fine warming up before Tuesday’s game, but when he took the mound to warm up before the third, he experienced a drop in velocity and couldn’t figure out why.

“I experienced some tightness near my triceps and a big velocity decrease,” Hahn said. “The ball wasn’t coming out (well) at all. It was a weird feeling. I’ve dealt with elbow (problems) before. Usually for me when I have elbow pain I can feel it on my pitches, and I didn’t feel it. It was kinda weird. … It almost felt like a dead arm.”

Hahn gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the third, then was taken out of the game. Afterward, he and the training staff discussed the possibility of getting an MRI but nothing had been set in stone.

“I’m throwing the ball as hard as I can and I see 89-90 on the board,” Hahn said. “I know something’s not right. But at the same time, I’m not feeling anything. It leaves you thinking. To be in that state of mind on the mound is not good.”

Should the A’s need to fill Hahn’s rotation spot the next time through, and should they want to dip into the minor league ranks, Daniel Mengden is on the same turn with Triple-A Nashville and threw seven scoreless innings Tuesday (81 pitches). He’s on the 40-man roster. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett also are coming off great outings for Nashville, though their turns in the rotation don’t line up as good with Hahn’s.