Baggs' Instant Replay: Dodgers 3, Giants 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Dodgers 3, Giants 2


SAN FRANCISCO The Giants finally got the stalwart start they needed from a sagging rotation. They scored a tiebreaking run in the seventh inning after Hunter Pence put down the first sacrifice bunt of his six-year big league career, too.

Most days, that is enough to cue Tony Bennett at AT&T Park.

But the Dodgers are not going away, and the NL West is far from won.

Matt Cains last act was a wild pitch that scored the tying run in the eighth, and the Dodgers battered Jeremy Affeldt in the ninth inning to take a 3-2 victory at AT&T Park on Saturday.

Adrian Gonzalez tripled to the deepest part of right-center field and Hanley Ramirez scored him with a double to nearly the same spot as the Dodgers moved to within 4 games of first place.

Starting pitching report
Cain gave the Giants the kind of quality outing they have lacked of late. For just the second time in 14 games, a Giants starter completed seven innings and Cain was working efficiently enough to go the distance.

He faced one more than the minimum over the first five innings, using double-play grounders to escape the first and second. Then he effectively added and subtracted off his fastball while mixing in a very good curve to induce plenty of weak contact in the air.

But the Dodgers manufactured a run in the sixth after pitcher Chris Capuano reached on a one-out single. Mark Ellis singled to put runners at the corners, and after looking overpowered while falling behind 0-2, Shane Victorino managed to lift a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the score.

The Giants went ahead in the seventh, but Cain couldnt hold the lead in the eighth. He had his share of bad fortune, though, as Juan Riveras leadoff double near the right field stripe bounced out of Hunter Pences glove as he slid in the dirt.

A.J. Ellis sacrificed Rivera to third and Cain, trying to make a perfect pitch to pinch hitter Bobby Abreu, skipped his 3-2 offering past catcher Buster Posey and to the backstop. Cain arrived at the plate at the same time as pinch runner Alex Castellanos, but only inhaled a cloud of dust for his efforts. With the score tied, it was time for Bochy to go to his bullpen.

Cains final line: 7 13 innings, six hits, two runs (both earned), five strikeouts and two wild pitches. He threw 103 pitches, 69 for strikes.

Bullpen report
Santiago Casilla was strong again while stranding Abreu in the eighth, but Jeremy Affeldt could not preserve the tie in the ninth. Gonzalez jumped on a first-pitch curveball to hit his first triple of the season, and with the infield playing partially in, Affeldt fell behind Ramirez before throwing a hittable 3-2 fastball.

Affeldt hadnt given up a run in his previous eight appearances.

At the plate
The Giants did well to manufacture their two runs off Chris Capuano, but Pablo Sandoval saw only four pitches in his four at-bats and the Giants couldnt put enough consistent pressure on the left-hander.

The Giants pecked Capuano for a run in the first inning after Marco Scutaro doubled, Pablo Sandoval hit a first-pitch single and Buster Posey lined an RBI hit off the glove of third baseman Luis Cruz.

It wasnt Poseys cleanest hit of the year but an important one, since the Giants cleanup hitter had begun to cool off while hitting .231 in the first six games of September.

The Giants could not bust open a big inning on Capuano, as Hunter Pence lined out to left field and umpire Chad Fairchild ruled that Posey was out on a close play after shortstop Hanley Ramirez bobbled Joaquin Arias grounder before flipping to second base for the force.

Those were the first two of 12 consecutive batters that Capuano retired, and the Giants needed the benefit of a blown call to break that streak in the fifth.

Gregor Blanco laid down a bunt but replays clearly showed that Capuano stepped on the bag first. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly argued to no avail. The bad calls evened out, though, when Blanco tried to go from first to third on Cains sacrifice bunt. Catcher A.J. Ellis alertly sprinted to cover third base and applied a tag on Blanco; umpire Alfonso Marquez called Blanco out even though replays appeared to show he reached the bag before he was tagged. This time, it was Bochys turn to argue a call.

Posey started the Giants tiebreaking rally in the seventh with a wicked double that ate up Cruz and rolled into the left field corner. Hunter Pence followed with a bunt the first sacrifice hit of his six-year major league career and Brandon Belt scored Posey with a line drive that Capuano only managed to knock down. Capuano was able to recover in time to throw out Belt at first base.

The Giants had a chance in the eighth against Ronald Belisario after Scutaro drew a one-out walk, but Sandoval hit into a fielders choice on the first pitch. After Posey drew a two-out walk, Pence struck out to strand two.

The Giants were down to their last strike in the ninth when Blanco hit a surprising double that Castellanos couldnt handle as he crashed into the left field wall. But pinch hitter Hector Sanchez lined out to third base on Brandon Leagues second pitch to end it.

In field
Bochy said prior to the game that the strong sun makes left field tougher to play during day games at AT&T Park, which is part of the reason he started Gregor Blanco against a left-handed pitcher. Blanco demonstrated it, struggling on rubbery legs to catch a pair of fly balls.

The most impressive defensive contributions were made by Posey, who threw out all three Dodgers who attempted to steal against him.

The Giants announced 41,791 paid. And zero Melky Cabrera T-shirts given away.

Up next
The Giants play the all-important rubber match of their three-game series with the Dodgers on Sunday, with the first pitch pushed back to 5:06 p.m. (PDT) to accommodate ESPN. Barry Zito (10-8, 4.51) will pitch on his scheduled day against left-hander Clayton Kershaw (12-8, 2.79), whom the Dodgers moved up so he could face the NL West leaders.

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres


SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, Christian Arroyo made his MLB debut. Tuesday brought his first hit and on Wednesday it was the first homer. Thursday’s game was his first multi-hit game as a big leaguer. What was in store Friday? The best swing yet.

Arroyo hit a go-ahead shot to left while leading off the eighth, giving the Giants a 4-3 win in their series opener with the Padres. The player coaches simply call “The Kid” has two homers in his first five games, and both have come in huge spots. Friday’s sent another jolt through AT&T Park and got a lead to Mark Melancon, who closed out the Padres. 

For four innings, a long-haired right-hander was no-hitting the Padres. Jeff Samardzija was sharp early and he got a nice cushion in the first. Joe Panik and Brandon Belt led off with singles and Panik scored on Erick Aybar’s two-out error. A Conor Gillaspie knock made it 2-0. 

The first hit allowed by Samardzija was a painful one. He plunked Yangervis Solarte to open the fifth and Ryan Schimpf hit a long dinger to dead center to tie the game. Cory Spangenberg followed with a single to left that skipped under Belt’s glove. Spangenberg went to third on the play and scored on a bloop. 

Belt made up for the play in the bottom of the inning, beating the outfield shift with a double and scoring on Mike Morse’s sacrifice fly to right two batters later. Samardzija ran into trouble in the seventh, but with two in scoring position and one out, he got a strikeout and a grounder to third. The Giants put the go-ahead run on second in their half, but Hunter Pence and Morse struck out. 

Starting pitching report: Samardzija has allowed six homers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL with a handful of players, including Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. 

Bullpen report: Melancon has five straight saves since blowing his first opportunity as a Giant. 

At the plate: Belt reached base four times. His on-base percentage is sitting at a cool .390. 

In the field: Panik made a brilliant diving catch in center for the first out of the ninth. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a sellout crowd. One of the fans looked just like Samardzija, possibly on purpose. 

Up next: Matt Cain has a 2.42 ERA but he left his last start with a tight hamstring. He’ll face Jhoulys Chacin (2-3, 5.90).