Giants draw even in the NLCS

916067.jpg

Giants draw even in the NLCS

From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The sight of Marco Scutaro on the ground in pain after getting flattened by Matt Holliday's hard takeout was just the spark the San Francisco Giants needed.Scutaro even got into the act with his own big blow that helped the Giants end their home slide.Scutaro hit a two-run single in San Francisco's four-run fourth inning before leaving with a hip injury and the Giants got their first home win this postseason, 7-1 over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night to tie the NL championship series at one game apiece."It just kind of pumps you up," Giants outfielder Hunter Pence said. "When you see one of your guys go down, you always want to win the game, but it's like, Let's go. Let's put it on the scoreboard.'"Scutaro left after the fifth because of his damaged left hip on a play Giants manager Bruce Bochy felt was illegal. X-rays were negative, and Scutaro likely will get an MRI on Tuesday. There was no word on his future status."In hindsight, I wish I would have started the slide a little earlier but it happened so fast," Holliday said. "I hope he's OK, he's a good guy. I was more interested in breaking up the double play."The series now shifts to St. Louis for three games, starting with Game 3 on Wednesday when San Francisco ace Matt Cain takes on Kyle Lohse of the Cardinals.Things got off to a testy start when Holliday barreled into Scutaro at second base to break up a potential double play in the first inning. The play riled up a crowd that had seen three straight losses by the Giants so far this postseason.There was plenty to cheer all night for the Giants. Ryan Vogelsong pitched seven strong innings, Angel Pagan hit a leadoff homer to give San Francisco its first home lead this postseason, and Scutaro broke the game open with his single off Chris Carpenter."That shows you how tough he is," Bochy said. "I really think they got away with an illegal slide there. That rule was changed a while back. And he really didn't hit dirt until he was past the bag. Marco was behind the bag and got smoked. It's a shame somebody got hurt because of this. That's more of a roadblock."Making Scutaro's hit even sweeter for the Giants was the fact that Holliday misplayed the ball in left field, allowing a third run to score on the error."There's baseball gods. There's definitely baseball gods," former Giants first baseman Will Clark said. "There's a reason why he hits a (single) and Holliday boots the ball he hit. Baseball gods shine in weird ways."The Giants also benefited from a missed call by an umpire in the eighth inning after St. Louis center fielder Jon Jay made a spectacular, diving catch to rob Brandon Crawford of a hit.Jay threw toward first and the Cardinals should have gotten a double play, but first base umpire Bill Miller did not see Allen Craig tag Gregor Blanco's jersey as he raced back to first on the play.St. Louis manager Mike Matheny argued the call and the umpires huddled to discuss it, but they kept the safe call even though replays showed Craig made the tag. The Giants capitalized when Ryan Theriot hit a two-run single to make it 7-1."I'm not going to take a hard stance one way or another on the replay," Matheny said."That really wasn't the game today," he said. "But every once in a while there's a big play that does change the course of the game and I'm not against having something else to help get it right. Our guys work hard to make the right plays and execute, so we want things called fairly."Back at Busch Stadium, Holliday will be cheered after being the target of boos all night following his aggressive play on the basepaths.With runners on first and second and one out, Craig hit a bouncer to Crawford, and the shortstop quickly flipped to Scutaro for the forceout.Holliday, a former high school football star in Oklahoma, came tumbling in and slid late into Scutaro, crushing his left leg to prevent up the double play. Scutaro lay on the ground twisting in pain while trainer Dave Groeschner and Bochy ran out of the dugout to attend to the second baseman."A lot of guys take pride in breaking up double plays. Holliday is one of them," Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso said. "On slowly hit balls you're going to get hit. You don't want anyone to get hurt, but I'm all for playing the game hard."Vogelsong got out of the jam by retiring Yadier Molina on a groundout."I just really was trying to make the next pitch to get the guy out so we could get him in the dugout," Vogelsong said.Scutaro stayed in the game with a limp until being replaced in the sixth by Theriot. By then, he had done his damage with the bat in the big fourth inning.The rally started innocently enough with a bloop, opposite field double by Brandon Belt and a chopper over third baseman David Freese by Blanco. Crawford then hit a bouncer between the mound and first base that Carpenter fielded and threw away toward first base. It appeared Crawford may have impeded Carpenter by running inside the baseline but the Cardinals did not argue the play.With the bases loaded and two outs, Scutaro lined his single to left-center that Holliday misplayed to the delight of Giants fans, putting Carpenter and the Cardinals into a 5-1 hole."He's a clutch hitter, he always has been, I know that since he's been over here," Carpenter said. "He's not going to miss those opportunities."Vogelsong made the lead hold up by becoming the first Giants starter to make it through six innings this postseason. He allowed four hits and one run for his first career postseason win.These teams have a history of contentious meetings in the NLCS from Jeffrey Leonard's one-flap down home run trot in 1987 that riled up the Cardinals to a benches-clearing dustup 10 years ago when St. Louis reliever Mike Crudale buzzed Kenny Lofton after he showboated on a home run.San Francisco answered with the bats this time as Pagan led off the bottom of the first with a homer -- matching his feat from Game 4 of the division series against Cincinnati. The Giants had been outscored 20-6 and never led in two home losses to the Reds and the Game 1 defeat to the Cardinals.Pagan's shot came soon after Scutaro was wiped out."We felt for him," Pagan said. "We felt a little bit of anger. I haven't seen the replay, so I can't judge if it was dirty or not. Any time you see a teammate fall down like that, you really feel for him."The Cardinals tied it in the second inning when Pete Kozma drew a two-out walk and scored on Carpenter's RBI double, his third hit already this postseason.But Carpenter, making his fifth appearance in 2012 after complicated surgery to remove a rib and two neck muscles, wasn't nearly as sharp on the mound or in the field. He allowed five runs -- two earned -- and six hits in four innings, failing to add to his 10 career postseason wins.NOTES:Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins is the only other player with two leadoff homers in a single postseason, doing it in 2008. ... Cardinals OF Carlos Beltran reached base three times, doubling twice and walking once. ... Giants 3B coach Tim Flannery performed the national anthem with the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. ... Vogelsong doubled in the sixth to become the first Giants pitcher to get a postseason extra-base hit since Jack Bentley homered in the 1924 World Series.

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

ANAHEIM — Sean Manaea is hopeful his left shoulder injury isn’t serious, but the A’s likely won’t have a full read on the starter’s condition for a couple days.

As of Wednesday night, no MRI was scheduled after Manaea left after just two innings of an eventual 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels with tightness in his shoulder.

“I felt it a little bit in the bullpen,” Manaea said. “I thought it was just one of those days where it took me longer to warm up, and that just wasn’t the case. It’s just really unfortunate.”

Just as the A’s are about to welcome Kendall Graveman back to the active roster Thursday, when he starts the series finale at Angel Stadium, and just as it appears Sonny Gray might be ready to come off the disabled list following one more rehab start, the A’s are hoping they don’t see Manaea subtracted from their rotation for any period of time.

Manager Bob Melvin said it was the top of Manaea’s shoulder that was bothering him.

“The velo was down, and it didn’t make sense to have him keep pitching,” Melvin said. “But we won’t know anything probably for a day or two, how he feels.”

Once he started throwing in the game, Manaea said he felt “kind of a little sharp pain. I mean, it’s nothing serious. I’ve dealt with it before and it only took me a few days to get back on the mound. To me, I’m not really worried about it.”

The pitcher added that he experienced a similar situation with his shoulder while a minor leaguer in Kansas City’s organization, toward the end of spring training, and he missed minimal time.

Things didn’t get better for the A’s (10-11) after Manaea exited, as they struck out 13 times and played sloppy defensively in dropping their third in a row. Catcher Stephen Vogt couldn’t handle Ryan Dull’s glove flip to the plate on a seventh-inning squeeze play, ending a streak of six errorless games for Oakland, but Melvin can live with occasional physical misplays. More problematic were occasions when right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker both seemed caught by surprise to see Angels runners take off for an extra base. Whether it was a lack of communication from infielders or the outfielders themselves needing to be more aware, the A’s can’t afford those kinds of mistakes.

“As a group, we can’t let that happen,” Melvin said. “We talk about it in advance meetings the way these guys run the bases. It’s not something we can do and expect to beat this team.”

Added Vogt: “We were on our heels quite a bit. This was obviously not the prettiest baseball game we’ve played.”

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

SAN FRANCISCO — This spring, Hunter Pence briefly tried to cut back on his coffee intake. The experiment did not last long for a player who is pure caffeine on and off the field, but even Pence is occasionally in need of more than a large cold brew. 

Pence tried to stay upbeat throughout a sluggish start to the season, but around him was a clubhouse in need of energy. Christian Arroyo walked through the door on Monday. Two days later, Michael Morse arrived.

“That’s quite an energy jolt,” Pence said of Arroyo. “Morse, it’s been an energy jolt as well.”

The two recent River Cats sent a pair of jolts through a stadium that was sold out for the 499th consecutive time. Arroyo hit a two-run homer in the seventh, his first in the big leagues. Morse went deep in the eighth for his first big league hit in two years and first homer as a Giant since the 2014 NLCS. 

Pence is close friends with Morse and and admirer of Arroyo, the 21-year-old who has taken a locker a few feet away. He made sure neither jolt went to waste, hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th to give the Giants a thrilling 4-3 win they hope they can build on.

“That was a shot in the arm,” Morse said.

The big slugger was just that earlier Wednesday. Morse agreed to terms on a minor league deal at Pence’s wedding last winter and he was on track for opening day before a hamstring injury. He was so excited by Wednesday’s call back to San Francisco that he beat Bruce Bochy to the park. The manager tried to lower expectations before the game, telling reporters that Morse would not be a regular starter, especially in left, where the Giants have watched a black hole open. 

Morse was here for the late innings, for the moment when Bochy looks at him and says simply, “Get ready, Mo.” For most of Wednesday’s game, it looked like that big moment wouldn’t come. Alex Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth but he was pulled in the seventh by a Dodgers staff trying to protect his arm. Sergio Romo entered and soon faced a kid who was 19 the first time he walked into Romo’s clubhouse. 

“He’s been doing the same thing in the big leagues with good results for a long time,” Arroyo said. 

Arroyo got the slider that’s always coming, low and away, and he drilled it deep to left-center. He hit only three homers last year but Giants management felt the 36 doubles at Richmond showed a developing power bat. The strength has come quickly, and the ball carried into the first row of seats. 

“I looked up and saw the ump waving and I was like, ‘I’ve got to slow down,’” Arroyo said, smiling. “I tried to slow down and take it all in.”

As Arroyo crossed the plate and looked to the sky, his family shared hugs — without spilling a nacho — in a section overlooking the home dugout. The ballpark roared. A 3-0 deficit had been nearly erased. 

“Now it’s a one-run game,” Bochy said. “Anything can happen.”

Even by that standard, Morse’s blast was improbable. This is a player who didn’t have a hit last season before being sent home by the Pittsburgh Pirates. A player who, at 35, was having a poor spring before he announced to a reporter one day that he was going to hit a homer -- and then promptly did. On a rehab assignment over the past week, Morse had a .250 average and no homers, but he insisted to general manager Bobby Evans that his swing was ready. 

Evans believed, and Morse rewarded him with a moment that had everyone in the park throwing it back to 2014. Just as in the deciding game of the NLCS against the Cardinals, Morse was sent up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Sidewinding Pat Neshek was replaced by fire-balling Pedro Baez, but the approach was the same. 

“Swing hard,” Morse said. “Just in case you hit it.”

Baez kept pumping fastballs and Morse turned on one at 97 mph. He raised his arm the same way he did three years ago, an inning before Travis Ishikawa’s heroics. 

“I’m not going to lie,” Bochy said. “I was thinking about that game against St. Louis.”

All the Giants were. 

“You kind of just sit there and shake your head a little bit because it was very similar to his last homer here,” Posey said. “Even his excitement out of the box was similar.”

Morse said he didn’t intend to strike the same pose. 

“I was like, ‘I hope I didn’t strike out and I’m just running around the bases,’” he said, laughing. “It was cool, man. Not only for me, but for the team.”

For four innings, the surging bullpen made sure the homers would not be a fun footnote to another loss. Gorkys Hernandez kicked off the winning rally in the 10th with a single. He was pushed along by a stolen base, walk and bunt. Pence stepped in with no outs and engaged in one of the strangest battles of a career full of them. 

Ross Stripling, a starter with a deep repertoire, kept pumping 94 mph fastballs up near Pence’s eyes. Pence swung through one, fouled off five, and took three more for balls. Only one of the pitches he saw was in the strike zone. In the dugout, Posey shook his head in amusement. 

“It was kind of hard not to laugh,” Posey said. “He’s probably the only guy who can do that.”

Some Giants couldn’t hold the laughter in, even in a tense spot.

“He had that ‘Thou shall not walk’ going in that at-bat,” Bochy said. “He probably expanded as much as I’ve ever seen. If he would have walked it would have gone down as one of the more amazing walks with all the balls he swung at.”

On a night full of so much energy, a walk would have been an anticlimactic ending. Pence, who had been expecting a curveball the whole at-bat, lofted a 10th fastball deep enough to left to score Arroyo and send the Giants streaming out of the dugout. 

Arroyo, the youngest of them all, went sprinting across the infield. Morse followed, and soon he had Pence wrapped in a hug. Hours earlier, he had promised that at the very least, he would bring energy to the clubhouse. He delivered more than anyone could have imagined.

“To do that is one of those special moments that can change a season,” Pence said. “It was electric ... Morsey being Morsey.”