Arroyo paints corners, befuddles Giants

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Arroyo paints corners, befuddles Giants

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SAN FRANCISCO -- With his flowing blonde mane, awkward stiff-legged delivery and the Key West cool he exhibits, Bronson Arroyo has been anything but the prototypical imposing stopper on the mound in his 13-year big league career.And yet, with Cincinnati wanting, er, needing a quality start to give its bullpen a much-needed breather after going through six pitchers in the series opener, there was the crafty Arroyo, hitting his spots, painting the edge of the plate and straight baffling the Giants. The right-hander threw seven innings of shutout ball and surrendered only one hit and one walk in a 9-0 victory to hand the Reds a two games to none lead in this best-of-five National League Division Series.RELATED: Baggs Instant Replay: Reds embarrass lifeless Giants
Best of all, at least from Cincinnati's perspective, Reds manager Dusty Baker had an inkling Arroyo would thrive at AT&T Park."He flirted with a nohitter a couple of starts ago," Baker said. "He's been throwing the ball well, and I just thought him and this forgiving ballpark would be right for him, even though I don't think he had won a game here."Indeed, Arroyo entered the day 0-4 on the shores of McCovey Cove and had not beaten the Giants at all since Aug. 31, 2008."You want to get deep in the ballgame but a playoff atmosphere, it's impossible to control everything that's going on," Arroyo said. "You go out there (with) a mindset of trying to get into the seventh inning possibly, and that doesn't happen a whole lotif you look around at both leagues you will see a lot of starting pitchers that have to bow out after 5 23 (innings)."You're burning more energy, there is so much more going on, so it's hard to take that responsibility on your shoulders and say, 'I'm going to get deep in the ballgame'. You hope you do.I threw enough pitches in the middle of the game where they had swung early on and saved me some pitches that gave me an opportunity to do that."Save some pitches? A 3-and-2 backdoor breaking pitch that froze Gregor Blanco for a strikeout to lead off the third inning saved Arroyo some pitches.
"It set a nice tone for us because you don't always get those pitches," he said, with a figurative tip of his cap to homeplate umpire Brian O'Nora."You're trying to pitch to such a small sliver of the outer half of the plate, and if you can do that it builds confidence."And confident he looked, building on the postseason experience he had in 2004 with the Boston Red Sox, the first, and thus far, only MLB team to rally from an 0-3 deficit in a playoff series to win a series."He was great," Baker said. "He had his breaking ball working, his fastball, he located it wellonce we got those early runs, he seemed to get tougher."Stingier, too.The Giants stung the ball early, but right at the Reds fielders. Arroyo was perfect through 4 23 innings, before Brandon Belt singled to right-center. The only other Giant to reach base off him was Buster Posey, who walked with two out in the seventh.
But the thought of a no-no or even a Perfect Game in the postseason seems a ludicrous though.
"A nohitter in this type of environment is almost impossible to do and it's something you're not thinking about," he said. "The win for the ballclub is the nirvana. There is nothing else to think about. If something else happens crazy like that, then it's icing on the cake."But to get through the fifth inning without having to pitch from the stretch but one time was really big.It allows you to get in your groove. You're not wasting a lot of energy because when guys are on base you're thinking about shutting the running game down. All kinds of things come into play there that don't have to if no one is on base.So to make it through the first five innings without having to deal with a base runner was big."In fact, had the Reds not been up so long in the eighth, when they batted around and added five runs, Arroyo probably would have come stayed in the game. After all, he himself batted in that Reds conga line."But we might have to pitch him on threedays rest, too," Baker said. "So at that period of time we had to save him for later.Plus, that long inning, we scored a lot of runs.About time to give some of the other guys a break."Arroyo, though, would offer no such quarter to the Giants. Not on this night.

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco …