Athletics

Giants continue downward spiral, fall to Cubs 5-2

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Giants continue downward spiral, fall to Cubs 5-2

Aug. 30, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- There's just not much else for San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy to say. Time is running out on his team.Alfonso Soriano drove in two runs and hit one of the longest homers at AT&T Park, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 5-2 win over the Giants on Tuesday night."We were better," Bochy said of the offense. "They started to get it going. It wasn't enough though. We know that."Geovany Soto added a two-run double and Darwin Barney also drove in a run for the Cubs, who won their second straight.
RELATED: Giants Insider gallery: It keeps getting worse
Jeff Keppinger had three hits and drove in two runs for the Giants, who lost their third in a row to fall a season-high six games behind Arizona, which beat Colorado 9-4, in the NL West."There's no other choice but to come out every day and fight our way out of it," Bochy said. "We're digging ourselves too big of a hole."Matt Garza (7-10) lasted 6 2-3 innings in his first appearance against the Giants. He allowed two runs on nine hits, walking one and striking out six. Carlos Marmol pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 39 chances."You go out there and try to keep your team in the game no matter who you're facing," Garza said. "It's just grinding it out. I need to pitch better so I can keep going out there."Ryan Vogelsong (10-5) lost his third straight start in his shortest outing since May 3. He gave up three runs on seven hits over five innings, walking two and striking out three."I'm not off by much," Vogelsong said. "I'm missing pitches by a little bit. I have to get it together in the next four days. There's no time to sit around moping now."
URBAN: Giants need Vogelsong's story to last
Sean Marshall recorded his 29th hold - on his 29th birthday - and is one shy from matching Marmol's club record in 2008.The stagnant Giants failed to score more than three runs for the sixth consecutive contest and have scored two or fewer in 24 of their last 44 games since the All-Star break.Carlos Beltran, acquired in a trade from the New York Mets in an attempt to bolster the offense, was 0 for 4, ending the third, fifth and seventh innings with a pair of runners on each time."They made some good pitches against him," Bochy said. "He's been getting good at bats, it just didn't happen for him tonight."Soriano's second-inning solo shot traveled an estimated 445 feet, bouncing onto the concourse above the left-field bleachers. Only Andres Galarraga has hit one further to left field, an estimated 475 feet on Sept. 18, 2001 off Roy Oswalt."I felt good at home plate and put a good swing on it," Soriano said. "I knew I had hit it good. I don't know how far it went yet."Barney and Soriano each drove in runs in the third to make it a 3-0 lead.After Keppinger doubled home a run in the fifth to pull the Giants to 3-1, the Cubs added two more on Soto's ground rule double with the bases loaded. Only fan interference prevented the Cubs from tacking on another run.Keppinger's double was the Giants' ninth extra-base hit in the first eight games of the homestand. He added an RBI single in the seventh.The Giants are 10-21 since leading the Diamondbacks by four games in the division after play on July 28.NOTES: Giants RHP Brian Wilson will throw one more time before throwing off the mound. ... Castro's nine triples are the most by a Cubs player since Ivan DeJesus had 10 in 1979. ... The Cubs lead the NL with 39 home runs in August. ... LHP Madison Bumgarner pitches Wednesday for the Giants. He's reached the seventh inning in each of his past five starts. Bumgarner is 1-1 in three starts vs. the Cubs. ... RHP Rodrigo Lopez will go for the Cubs in Wednesday's series finale. He's lost his last two starts and is winless in seven starts against the Giants. ... Garza had two hits, his first career multi-hit game, and has five hits on the year. ... The Giants have scored 74 runs in August, their fewest in the month since at least 1946.

A's rookie Olson stays humble during record-breaking power surge

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A's rookie Olson stays humble during record-breaking power surge

OAKLAND — Matt Olson is aware of the company he’s keeping in the A’s record books.

His reaction is a mix of reverence and a shrug-of-the-shoulders type humbleness.

That’s the personality of the A’s rookie first baseman. Even as the conversation about him and his awe-inspiring home run pace grows louder, he remains the same steady, grounded presence.

“I’m happy for him,” A’s hitting coach Darren Bush said. “The guy’s worked his butt off. He’s the same today as was when he first got called up.”

Olson cleared the fences once again Friday night, his two-run homer off Nick Martinez in the second inning helping the A’s to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers. At this point, it’s much more newsworthy when Olson doesn’t homer than when he does.

He’s crammed 24 homers into just 57 games this season. Taking into account his first call-up last September, and Olson’s 24 homers over the first 68 games of his career are the second-most in the history of major league baseball over that span to open a career. The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger also hit 24 and only the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, with 25, hit more over his first 68.

Olson’s 13 homers in September are the most by any rookie in major league history for the month, and there’s still eight games left in it. But Olson’s hot streak dates back to Aug. 27. He’s hit a major league-best 16 homers in 23 games since then.

Among rookies in A’s history, only Mark McGwire (49) in 1987 and Jose Canseco (33) in 1986 have hit more than Olson’s 24. But neither Bash Brother, nor any other player in Oakland history, ever hit 15 homers in a 21-game span as Olson recently did.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Olson said before Friday’s game. “I grew up with a Mark McGwire poster on my wall. It’s a little surreal.”

Who saw this coming?

Olson went 2-for-21 without a single RBI in his first taste of the bigs last September. Then he shuttled five times between Triple-A and the majors this season before getting called up once again Aug. 8 and being told he’d get a shot as the A’s regular first baseman with Yonder Alonso having been traded. The constant shuttling took its toll, though Olson never let on about that publicly to reporters.

“You could see (the frustration),” said Ryan Christenson, his manager at Triple-A. “When he walks in and you tell him ‘You’re getting sent up,’ and he’s like, ‘Well, how many days is it for this time?’ He wouldn’t voice it necessarily, but you could sense it.”

Olson, with help from Bush and others, made an adjustment coming into this season. He began holding his hands out farther away from his body to begin his swing. With his 6-foot-5 frame, Olson had found himself getting jammed inside. Then in trying to adjust to that, he couldn’t square up pitches on the outer half.

“Now, his hands are firing from where he wants them to,” Bush said. “He doesn’t have to fight. You want your hands to have a clean path. Now he can stay in there, stay behind the ball, let his hands work for him.”

Olson, a 23-year-old from Lilburn, Ga., takes this sudden burst of success — and attention — in stride.

“I’ve been hit with so many stats here in the past week, I can’t even keep track of who’s done what, and honestly what I’ve done,” he said. “I kind of try to ignore all that.”

That’s OK. Others are taking plenty of notice.

 

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

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As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

LOS ANGELES — The Giants left their dugout quickly after Friday’s loss, escaping a celebration on the mound and a fireworks show in the sky. As Dodger Stadium shook with cheers, Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani. 

“He’s good,” Bochy said, laughing. “I absolutely would play him every day.”

Earlier in the week, when it became known that Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley were headed to Japan to scout Otani, Bochy said he couldn’t imagine a player pitching and then moving to the outfield between starts. What changed? 

Perhaps it was the tape Bochy saw. Otani throws 100 mph and hits homers with ease. Or perhaps it was the game he watched Friday. The Giants lost for the 94th time, with the big blow coming from a 22-year-old Dodgers star. Cody Bellinger’s blast was the difference in a 4-2 win, and the Giants don’t have a Bellinger, or anything close. Otani, 23, is a long shot for a team that very well could finish with the worst record in baseball. Still, he’s the kind of talent that could help pull the Giants closer in a hurry. He’s the  kind of talent they haven’t developed in years, and Bochy certainly sounded a bit wistful as he talked of the power Bellinger has put on display. 

“You call up a guy and he does that — that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a rare deal.”

The ninth inning of the Dodgers’ clincher reinforced that point for the Giants. They got a homer from Pablo Sandoval, but he’s playing only because Christian Arroyo — the Giants’ best prospect bet this year — is hurt. Ryder Jones, their 23-year-old prospect, struck out to end the night, dropping his average to .180. 

That set off a celebration for Bellinger and the Dodgers. They have won five straight NL West titles, with three of the last four clinched against the Giants. 

“Congrats to them,” Bochy said. “They’ve had a tremendous year across the board, and they’ve played great baseball. They brought some guys up that really did a great job for them. It’s well deserved.”

Bochy said it was not difficult to watch this one. The division has been wrapped up for months, with only a September slide keeping the Dodgers from clinching earlier. 

“We knew what we were facing here,” Bochy said. 

The Giants have two more against the Dodgers and then six more before a long winter. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will host an NLDS series here at Dodger Stadium. Both Bochy and starter Jeff Samardzija made the same observation, that the Dodgers will have a hard time cutting their deep roster down to 25 postseason players. 

That’s a nice problem to have. It’s a foreign one right now for the Giants, who have a serious talent gap and no clear solutions internally. It’s no wonder, then, that Bochy has all of a sudden become so intrigued by a wondrous talent overseas.