Baggs' Instant Replay: Dodgers 10, Giants 0


Baggs' Instant Replay: Dodgers 10, Giants 0


SAN FRANCISCO Just over a month ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers didnt score a run in three games at AT&T Park. And comically, their equipment truck broke down on the way to SFO.

That truck is up and running again, and the Giants zombie-walked into its path.

Matt Kemp, who has video-game numbers against Barry Zito, pinged him pretty good for a two-run home run in the first inning. But the Giants unplugged offense was the most disturbing part of Saturdays 10-0 hide-tanning at the hands of their archrivals at AT&T Park.

The Giants only had two hits in the first seven innings and they shouldve been gimmes: leadoff doubles in the second and fifth. They let both chances pass and the Dodgers kept accelerating, cutting the Giants lead to one game in the NL West and positioning themselves for a chance at a three-game sweep at China Basin.

The difference between this series and the last one? Simply put: injuries.

The Dodgers didnt have Kemp last time. The Giants are without Pablo Sandoval now. And although Marco Scutaro made his Giants debut Saturday, hes not intended to be a response to the Dodgers cash-absorbing addition of Hanley Ramirez.

Already, Ramirez is making an impact in this division race. He collected two RBI hits and scored another run. And of course, his two-run home run won Friday nights game.

Starting pitching report
Zito had been 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this season, but Kemp was on the disabled list for one of those assignments and was 3 for 3 against him in the other.

A .449 career hitter in 49 at-bats, Kemp improved that average while doing damage with a two-run home run in the first inning.

Zito (8-7) didnt pay for another mistake until the fifth, when the Dodgers 7-8 hitters went single-double to start the inning and pitcher Chad Billingsley hit a sacrifice fly to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

The Giants tried to squeeze one more inning out of Zito, but Kemp led off with a single (he ended the day as a .462 hitter against the lefty). After Hanley Ramirez hit into a fielders choice, Jerry Hairston Jr. followed with a double to right field that wasnt easily corralled. The relay arrived at the plate ahead of Ramirez, but catcher Buster Posey was positioned so far in front of the dish that his swipe tag had no chance to prevent the run.

Zito ended up allowing four runs (all earned) on seven hits in 5 13 innings. For the third consecutive start, he issued just one walk. Overall, it was the kind of strike-throwing effort that the Giants hoped Zito could provide as the de facto No.5 starter.

The Giants are 10-10 in Zitos starts this season.

Bullpen report
The Giants found a more experienced upgrade to Emmanuel Burriss in Marco Scutaro. The club is seeking to do the same for right-hander George Kontos, who gave up a solo homer to A.J. Ellis along with consecutive doubles to Kemp and Ramirez in a three-run seventh inning.

Kemps fourth hit of the afternoon was a double off Brad Penny in a three-run ninth inning. Ramirez added another lo viste RBI single.

At the plate
Buster Posey doubled to start the second inning but the Giants couldnt even advance him with a productive out. The same thing happened when Angel Pagan took a risk with a three-run deficit and hustled a double to start the fifth. Brandon Belt took a called third strike and the next two batters grounded out.

The next inning, Aubrey Huff replaced Belt as part of a double-switch. In his first at-bats since June 10, he grounded out and struck out.

The Giants loaded the bases with three singles in the eighth, but Ryan Theriot grounded out.

They were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and are now hitting .188 with two outs and RISP for the season the second-worst mark in the major leagues, better than only the San Diego Padres.

Scutaro popped to short, grounded out to third and singled in his Giants debut.

In field
Shortstop Brandon Crawfords errorless streak ended at 30 games. He made his first miscue since June 17 at Seattle, dropping Ethiers spinning, one-hopper for what shouldve been the third out in the seventh inning. Kemp and Ramirez followed with doubles that put the game away.

Ethier made the highlight play of the game, racing back and crashing into the bricks while catching Melky Cabreras deep drive in the seventh inning.

Scutaro, playing third base for the first time since 2008, handled all his chances without incident.

The Giants announced 42,030 paid. Give em time to pick up the old Scutaro chant that used to echo through the Coliseum.

Up next
The Giants and Dodgers complete their three-game series in Sunday as Ryan Vogelsong (8-4, 2.26) tries to outpitch left-hander Clayton Kershaw (7-6, 3.14) for the third time this season. After Sunday, the two clubs still have nine more games remaining in their season series: Aug. 20-22 at LA, Sept. 7-9 at SF and Oct. 1-3 at LA in the final three games of the year.

Giants spring training Day 15: Arroyo picks up where he left off

Giants spring training Day 15: Arroyo picks up where he left off

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants do not expect Christian Arroyo, their top hitting prospect, to get a lot of at-bats in a camp filled with veteran infielders. But the 21-year-old continues to make the most of every opportunity he gets. 

Arroyo hit a scorching single to left in his first at-bat Monday. When he came up with the bases loaded in the seventh, he poked a single into right, tying the game. Arroyo grounded out in his final at-bat, ending his perfect run this spring. With three hits in his first four at-bats down here, Arroyo is now 17-for-30 in three springs in big league camp.

“It’s the same (thing) he did last spring,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s getting great at-bats and playing well at shortstop. In the early go here, he’s playing the kind of ball that he was last spring. His mechanics are very solid. It’s a good foundation, good balance, and he doesn’t try to do too much. The bat stays in the zone a long time and he uses the whole field well. He’s a good hitter. He’s only going to hit for more power. The power is going to come, too.”

A move to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League should help. No matter what Arroyo does this spring, the Giants will send him to Triple-A if their 40-man guys are healthy. But Arroyo’s time is coming, and it’s coming soon. 

For more on Arroyo, here’s a feature I wrote about him last week. Here’s more from the first day of the third week of spring training … 

GAME RECAP: The Giants will not go undefeated this season. They lost to the A’s for the 124th consecutive time in the Cactus League, this time by a score of 5-4 … Michael Morse got the first hit of his comeback attempt. His pinch-hit single up the middle in the seventh drove in a run. In the eighth, he lined a two-strike single to right … Brandon Belt hit his first homer of the spring. It was the 24th of his spring training career. You can see it here … Bochy was impressed with Jose Dominguez, who struck out one in a scoreless inning. 

STOCK WATCH: Orlando Calixte played right field, after previously seeing time at short and second this spring. “He’s intriguing,” Bochy said. “He showed the arm off in right field. He’s a good shortstop and plays second and third. He’s a good athlete.” The Giants plan to carry five outfielders, but if none of the right-handed bats break through, they could always carry Calixte as a super-utility guy. Remember, he’s on the 40-man roster. 

CUETO UPDATE: The co-ace still is not in big league camp, or on the way. Here’s the latest on Johnny Cueto. 

TRAINER’S ROOM: This room now belongs to Anthony Reyes, as Dave Groeschner is off to South Korea with Hensley Meulens and Team Netherlands. Will Smith (elbow) threw off flat ground and everything went fine. Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) will likely resume playing third base later this week.

QUOTABLE: “To have that splitter that out of the hand looks like a heater, for me, that’s huge.” — Jeff Samardzija on a pitch that helped him dominate in September. Here’s more on Samardzija and his plans for 2017. 


Samardzija sticking with more versatile approach in second year with Giants

Samardzija sticking with more versatile approach in second year with Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija’s first season in San Francisco was ultimately not far from what the Giants hoped it would be. Samardzija gave them the desired durability, throwing 203 innings with a 3.81 ERA in 32 starts. 

The route to those final numbers was remarkably circuitous. Samardzija had a 2.84 ERA through the season’s first two months, but that number jumped all the way up to 6.23 over his next 11 starts, seven of them losses for the team. As the Giants went into a second-half tailspin, Samardzija found his groove and helped keep them in the playoff race. He had a 2.45 ERA over his final 10 starts, earning the nod as the Game 2 starter in the NLDS. That appearance against the Cubs lasted just two innings. 

The up-and-down season showed the Giants two very different versions of a big offseason acquisition, and at times opposing hitters saw two very different Samardzijas. He went heavy on his cutter early, but when hitters started teeing off on pitches that all came in at a somewhat similar velocity, Samardzija mixed in a curveball that was completely mothballed through June. Down the stretch, when he found his form, Samardzija brought back his splitter and ignored the cutter. He threw 165 cutters in April but just two in September. On the flip side, he threw 113 splitters in September after never throwing more than 35 the first five months. 

“He found the splitter and using it more made him more of a complete pitcher,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s got the four (main) pitches now. They can’t just sit on the hard stuff. He had a good year. It was a little bump there, but he had a great run and was throwing the ball really well (down the stretch). He’s one of our guys. We certainly think (that deal) is going to pay off, and it did last year. He got us deep into games consistently.”

Samardzija learned from the up-and-down year, and during his first start of the spring, he varied the repertoire. He gave up two runs in the first inning but was pleased with a curveball he threw four times — twice for called strikes, twice for foul balls. 

“If you can get it going here in Arizona, it’s going to be a pretty solid pitch for you,” he said. “(Bringing it back last year) was kind of out of necessity. I picked it up and played around with it and it felt good.”

The curveball, which he hadn't thrown since 2012, changed eye levels last season and kept hitters from loading up on pitches in the low to mid 90s. Samardzija further expanded the velocity gap by finding the feel of a splitter that had toyed with him for years.

“For me, with that splitter coming back late in the year, it’s going to be about mixing it in and seeing what feels good on that day, seeing what’s going to be the out pitch,” he said. “I had been chasing (the feel) of it since 2014. We broke it all the way back down and went back to zero. So many guys were sitting fastball. To have that splitter that out of the hand looks like a heater, for me, that’s huge.”

The Giants expect the more varied approach to lead to big results in 2017, and Samardzija could subtly benefit from a change Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti made. Samardzija will pitch behind left-hander Matt Moore, not Johnny Cueto. He said he would often last season compare notes with Cueto, who like Samardzija, pitched most of his career in the NL Central. The two would often take a similar approach on the mound.

“(Opponents will) have to face a tough lefty like Moore, so they can’t have that same lineup two days in a row,” Samardzija said. “To me, that’s big.”