Giants

Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 15, Cardinals 0

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 15, Cardinals 0

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS Reputations can be made in a flash. It takes a little longer to unmake them.

Ryan Vogelsong might forever pitch with a chip on his shoulder, aware that, in his own words, nobody takes (him) seriously. And the Giants offense has been negligible for so long, GM Brian Sabean probably hears screams of get a bat in his REM cycles.

But the league will have to pay attention to reality at some point.

Vogelsong, an All-Star snub and the NLs ERA leader, certainly held the St. Louis Cardinals spellbound while limiting one of baseballs most productive lineups to three hits in seven shutout innings Wednesday night.

As for the Giants offense? Well, they practically shouted a 15-0 victory inside library-quiet Busch Stadium.

Buster Posey extended his hitting streak to 11 games, Melky Cabrera continued to add to his major league leading hits and runs totals and Hunter Pence had a pair of run-scoring hits.

That was mere prelude to some serious stat padding in the final four innings. Marco Scutaro hit a two-run double in the eighth and a grand slam in the ninth to complete a seven-RBI game the most by a Giant since Jeff Kent knocked in seven runs May 1, 2001, at Pittsburgh.

Hard to believe, but the Giants are the highest scoring road team in the major leagues, with 5.18 runs per game.

And while were on the subject of shedding reputations, shortstop Brandon Crawford made an acrobatic, run-saving play in the hole to end the fourth inning. After committing 12 errors and causing much consternation in his first 61 games, the gifted shortstop has made just one in his last 39.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Giants achieved their largest margin of victory in a shutout at St. Louis. It bested an 11-0 victory on June 27, 1894. Thats when the Cardinals were called the St. Louis Browns, and Adolphus Buschs fledgling brewery was just getting started.

Starting pitching report

Vogelsong (10-5) just keeps on grinding out quality starts.

He has tossed at least 6.0 innings in each of his 21 starts this season the longest streak by a Giant since Bill Swift compiled 24 consecutive in 1993. The San Francisco-era record is 29, set by Juan Marichal in 1968.

The right-hander only struck out three, but he found a way to keep the ball off the barrel. Hes done that so well all season while compiling a 2.27 ERA second only to the Angels Jered Weaver (2.13) among qualified major league starters.

Vogelsong matched Washingtons Jordan Zimmermann for the NL lead with his 19th quality start.

Bullpen report

Well, the Giants did better than the Cardinals bullpen.

Jose Mijares made his Giants debut in the most low-pressure spot imaginable. He pitched around a single and a walk in the ninth inning. He did not receive credit for a save.

At the plate

Cabrera recorded his 51st multi-hit game and bumped his major league leading hits total to 154. With the help of Pence, Cabrera also boosted his NL-best runs total to 80.

Pences seeing-eye single in the first inning scored Cabrera to put the Giants on the board. It marked the seventh consecutive road game in which the Giants scored in the first inning; the last team with a longer streak was the 2006 Mets, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Cabreras double kick-started a five-run rally in the sixth inning that broke open a 2-0 game. Buster Posey, whod already extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning single, drew a pitch-around walk. Pence followed up by doing exactly what the Giants hoped he could, ripping an RBI single that scored Cabrera.

After Brandon Belt singled to load the bases, Ryan Theriot hit a grounder to second base that got past Tyler Greene for an error that allowed two runs to score. Angel Pagan tacked on a sacrifice fly to complete the rally.

The Giants batted around again in the eighth, with Scutaros double driving in two of the four runs. Scutaros third career grand slam in the ninth was the foie gras on top of the 20-ounce steak. He smashed his previous high for RBIs, which was four.

In field

Remember when Crawford committed 12 errors in his first 61 games? Well, thats not a topic any longer. The gifted shortstop has committed just one error over his last 39 games, and he made a run-saving stop in the fourth inning.

With runners at the corners and two outs, Crawford made a diving stop of David Freeses hard ground ball. From the lip of the outfield grass, he sprang to his feet and made a strong throw to first base to end the inning.

The Cardinals made their biggest flub on Greenes error in the sixth, but pitcher Joe Kelly also threw away a pickoff throw in the third inning that allowed Pagan to advance two bases. He scored on Scutaros single.

Attendance

The Cardinals announced 36,906 paid. Were guessing Buschs heirs were able to pocket some coppers from the thirsty crowd.

Up next

The Giants try to make it three out of four in St. Louis and a banner, 6-1 trip when they conclude their series against the Cardinals Thursday afternoon at Busch Stadium. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (12-6, 3.03) opposes right-hander Adam Wainwright. (9-10, 4.03).

Top prospect Shaw not feeling pressure of potential call-up

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Top prospect Shaw not feeling pressure of potential call-up

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants do not like to set timetables for their top prospects, instead encouraging them to force their way into promotions. Christian Arroyo did that in April and Ryder Jones followed over the summer, and both should be in position to compete for the third base job next spring. 

One of those two could ultimately fill a gaping hole in the lineup. When it comes to left field, one of their current River Cats teammates hopes to do the same. Chris Shaw is the organization’s top prospects on some lists, and on all lists, he is their top power-hitting prospect. 

The 23-year-old has 16 homers and 23 doubles across two levels this season, good for a .503 slugging percentage that’s right in line with his mark (.502) over 269 professional games. Shaw is on the fast track, and he became more intriguing when the Giants — with Brandon Belt signed long-term at first — moved him to left full-time this season. 

Shaw is doing what was asked of him. Earlier this week, I asked him if that has him thinking about a promotion. 

“It’s my motivation obviously to get to the big leagues, that’s why you work so hard in the offseason is to put yourself in that position to be knocking on the door,” he said. “But now, in season, you kind of put all your work in up to this point and everything else is a result of all your hard work up to this point. I don’t necessarily put any extra pressure on myself because right now I just go out and play and whatever happens, happens.

“I can’t dictate what falls and what doesn’t fall and what my batting average is going to look like a month from now, and ultimately what the front office wants to do. I’m fully aware they don’t have to add me this year. I trust in the front office in promoting me when they feel I’m ready developmentally.”

The big problem for Shaw at the moment is that the Giants do not need to add him to the 40-man roster until after the 2018 season. They are big on inventory, and not keen on DFA’ing another player this year and taking up a winter roster spot over the offseason for a prospect who currently is not in the opening day plans for 2018. That’s the paperwork side of this. On the field, Shaw is blocked by Gorkys Hernandez (who is now playing everyday), Jarrett Parker (who will finish his rehab assignment soon), Mac Williamson, and others. It remains a bit of a long shot that Shaw gets a September cameo, and when I checked in with team officials a week ago, the word was that it’s not currently in the plans. 

Having said that, the last-place Giants could certainly use some excitement and a glimpse of power. Shaw has some time left to change the front office's September plans. In the meantime, he’s the latest guest on our Giants Insider podcast. The quote above is from the podcast, which you can stream here or download on iTunes here. We talked promotions, his move to left, his power, his post-deadline tweet last year, and more. 

Former college football star shows athleticism on pivotal play in Giants win

Former college football star shows athleticism on pivotal play in Giants win

SAN FRANCISCO — Wednesday was a throwback for the Giants, the type of 2-1 win they’ve become so accustomed to at AT&T Park in past years. Solid starting pitching, a good bullpen, an opportunistic lineup, and sparkling defense. That’s the recipe, only on Wednesday there was a twist. 

The highlights usually come from the Brandons or Gold Glovers Joe Panik and Buster Posey. Wednesday’s defensive star was the pitcher. Jeff Samardzija’s barehanded grab-and-throw in the second inning killed a Pirates rally and kept Samardzija in line for a deep start. He was rewarded with his fifth win. 

The big play came with the bases loaded and one out in the second. Opposing pitcher Trevor Williams bounced one toward third and Samardzija sprung off the mound, cutting in front of Conor Gillaspie. He caught the ball with his bare hand as it came down from the first hop and made a perfect off-balance strike to Buster Posey for the force at the plate. 

“Your back is up against the wall there,” Samardzija said. “That’s a lack of other options and I had to make a play. It was the only option I had. I didn’t think I had a chance at first.”

Even with the pitcher running, Samardzija probably didn’t. After getting the tough out at the plate, he induced an inning-ending pop-up. Samardzija would get through the seventh and a mistake in left opened the door for the Giants' game-winning run. Afterward, Bruce Bochy pointed to that second-inning play as a unique turning point. 

“It looked like he was receiving a football, didn’t it?” Bochy said, smiling. “He’s so quick off the mound. He’s a good athlete. For a pitcher, that’s one of the better plays I’ve seen. You have to be a good athlete to jump off the mound that quick and have the instincts to know where to go with the ball.”

Samardzija, a former college football star, said that athleticism has hurt him at times. He explained that it can lead to some mechanical laziness on the mound, as better athletes tend to rely on that to get the ball to the plate. He did some work in a recent bullpen session to try and hone in those mechanics, and it showed against a charging Pirates club. 

If there were any scouts waiting for one last glimpse of Good Samardzija, this was it. But the right-hander said he doesn’t expect to be traded by Monday’s deadline.

“I haven’t heard anything,” he said. “I don’t read the news.”

He hears enough, though, to know that his name has been thrown around. Samardzija said he thinks that’s just other teams looking for leverage in trade discussions. He made his preference clear.

“I love being here,” he said.