Giants Insider notes: Posey fatigued? Nope.


Giants Insider notes: Posey fatigued? Nope.

May 17, 2011

Our MLB Insider takes a look at the Giants' 5-3 loss to the host Rockies on Tuesday in the finale of a two-day twinbill of a series at Coors Field.
Bust(er)ing out: Nobody would have batted an eye had Giants manager Bruce Bochy given catcher Buster Posey the day off; he was 2-for-13 (.154) against Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez, it was a day game after a night game, and backup Eli Whiteside has often guided Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez through spectacular outings. Bochy, however, stuck with the hot hand -- Posey had two hits Monday -- and decided that with Sunday's game in Chicago having been rained out, Posey was plenty rested. He even moved Posey into the No. 3 spot in the order, and his faith was rewarded with another multi-hit game from the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, who singled and scored during San Francisco's tie-breaking rally in the third inning.RECAP: Rockies take late lead, sweep Giants in short series

Well-played hunch: Bochy also raised some eyebrows by starting struggling Pat Burrell (1-for-12 funk) in left field and putting Mike Fontenot (1-for-19) into Freddy Sanchez's customary spots at second base and second in the batting order. As has happened so often since late last season, Bochy's moves paid off. Fontenot also singled in the third, and he and Posey scored when Burrell, given the green light to swing away on a 3-0 count, scored them both with a double into the left-center gap. Burrell also singled for his first multi-hit game since April 24.Cautionary tale: Word during Tuesday's presume show that it was a regularly scheduled day off for Freddy Sanchez, but it was a little more than that. Yes, Bochy wanted to get Fontenot into a game after sitting him in three of the past four; yes, he wanted Miguel Tejada back at shortstop because -- hot-hand alert! -- Tejada had two hits Monday and was 4-for-12 lifetime against Jimenez; and yes, Bochy wanted to play Mark DeRosa again in hopes that back-to-back starts for the first time this year would help DeRosa find some sense of rhythm. (It didn't; DeRosa went 0-for-4 and is 0-for-22 over his past nine games.) But it also has to be noted that Freddy Sanchez is 9-for-30 (.300) against Jimenez and batting .390 lifetime at Coors Field; so much for the hot-hand thing. Bottom line: Sanchez's left knee is bothering him again, so Bochy gave him a blow."Good" Sanchez: In his second start since a closed-door meeting with Bochy to discuss his focus, Jonathan Sanchez put together another pretty solid start, and for seven innings this one was quite a bit better than the previous. After allowing a leadoff double in the third, Sanchez allowed one hit and hit a batter while cruising into the eighth. His arm slot was consistent, which helped him do what any pitcher hoping to succeed at Coors Field has to do: keep the ball down and limit free passes. Sanchez was as efficient as he's been in a while, holding the Rockies to three hits, that one hit batter and zero walks on 81 pitches through the first seven innings."Bad" Sanchez: After allowing consecutive singles to open the bottom of the eighth, Sanchez picked up a sacrifice bunt and threw wildly past first base to bring in a run and put runners at the corners with nobody out. That was it for him, and the inning snowballed from there. Javier Lopez, one of the Giants' most reliable bullpen arms all year, came on and was greeted by a ground-rule double by Dexter Fowler that tied the game. Two batters later, Carlos Gonzalez broke the tie with the two-run single that chased Lopez and stuck Sanchez with the loss."Tulo" untracked: Previously slumping Troy Tulowitzki had a big two-run single off Tim Lincecum on Monday, and the confidence boost it provided appeared to carry over to Tuesday, when he yanked a slow-breaking, down-and-away slider from Sanchez into the left-center bleachers to tie the game at 1-1. Then again, Tulowitzki likely had plenty of confidence heading into the short series' finale, anyway. He entered the contest 7-for-20 (.350) with a double, triple and home run in his career against Sanchez.

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?


Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

This is the NBA Finals that will define the Warriors forever

This is the NBA Finals that will define the Warriors forever

There are no more ways to extol the virtues of the Golden State Warriors without redundancy. They have owned three consecutive regular seasons and three consecutive Western Conference playoffs, and just finished savaging the last one faster than any team since the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers, who didn’t have to play as many games as these Warriors did.

But now the season begins, and in the pass-fail world of the NBA Finals, this is the one that will define the Warriors for the ages.

After mugging the San Antonio Spurs, 129-115, to close out the West final in the minimum number of sanctioned events, the Warriors now wait for the resolution of Cleveland-Boston to begin the final assault on their destiny.

They did so without giving in to their occasional predilection for easing up on the throttle. They took an early lead, widened it slowly and carefully and made damned sure the Spurs never felt like they could do as the Celtics had done the night before in Cleveland. The Warriors were coldly efficient (well, okay, those 17 turnovers were bothersome but not ultimately an issue) at both ends of the floor and all points inbetween, and the result and its margin were both fair representations of the difference between the two teams.

In dispatching the Spurs, they became the first team ever to put 120 points on a Gregg Popovich-coached team three consecutive times; indeed the only time Popovich ever had one of his teams allow 120 in back-to-back games was when the 2005 team that eventually won the NBA title beat the Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors, both in overtime.

And while this series will be remembered as the one in which the Spurs had the least amount of weaponry, it will also be the one in which the Warriors will be remembered for wasting only one of the eight halves they played. It is difficult, in other words, to make the case that San Antonio would have won the series even with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. We do know it would still be going on, but the outcome seems only slightly more in doubt in such a case.

But as this affects the Warriors, this next series will dictate all of it. Win, and they can claim a mini-dynasty. Lose, and they will damned in the court of public opinion in ways that make last year’s 3-1 memes seem downright charitable.

It is the price they pay for being very good already and then adding Kevin Durant without giving up anything of real substance. It’s the price they pay for wanting it all and then doubling down for more.

People and teams who did that are not treated kindly unless they win everything that can be won, and the Warriors are now that team – like the Yankees of lore and Patriots of today, they are the standard of both excellence and excess, and marrying the two without danger is not possible, as they learned a year ago.

But that was then, Draymond Green’s wayward hand and five minutes of 0-for-everything shooting is just history. They can adapt and avenge if not eradicate the hard lesson of 2016 and be thought of as the team they all believe themselves to be.

All they have to do is take the Celtics or Cavaliers and ender them inert. They don’t have to do it in four games; chasing numbers is a fool’s errand as they discovered last year chasing the now-meaningless 73.

They just have to do it four times, and if they play as they have, winning 12 consecutive games by an average margin of 16 points and change  against three other quality teams, they will succeed at the hardest level basketball can create. And whatever people may say of them good or ill, they will have achieved what was demanded of them by both supporter and detractor alike.

And that, to paraphrase Kevin Durant, is what they came to do. Win the thing, and not worry about the numbers -- especially not the style points.