Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 2, Cubs 1


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 2, Cubs 1


SAN FRANCISCO If Matt Cain looked any more appropriately temporal in his 1912 throwback uniform on Saturday, he wouldve stepped out of a cornfield before taking the bullpen mound.He had the stern face and the ringed socks and the wide belt. All he needed was a nickname like the Woonsocket Winger.And by the end of the Giants 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs, Cain had something else: A .500 record.It only seems like a century since Cain had as many wins as losses. Pitching with a dead-ball ration of run support most nights, he hadnt enjoyed an even ledger since he was a 22-year-old with a 17-17 record in May, 2007.Now, after charging the hill like a doughboy to beat the Cubs, he is 6-2 on the season and 75-75 for his career.He got there by doing what hes done throughout his tenure as a Giant. He pumped strikes, he did not shrink with runners on base and cutting through lineups like he was working on the stockyard floor.The Giants used some spit and polish to score two runs in the sixth inning. It involved three singles, a bases-loaded walk and an RBI ground out.The Giants own one home run in their last 17 home games. So the dead-ball era is alive and well. Good thing Cain is suited to win in any century.
Starting pitching reportCain held the Cubs to a run on five hits in eight-plus innings to win his fifth consecutive start.He faced the minimum over the first three innings, helped in part by Steve Clevengers lineout that third baseman Joaquin Arias turned into a double play.David DeJesus hit a 400-foot home run in the fourth but Cain struck out Alfonso Soriano to strand a runner at second base. The Cubs threatened again in the sixth when Tony Campana hit an infield single, stole second base and DeJesus drew a two-out walk. The Cubs executed a double-steal to put more pressure on Cain, who fell behind Soriano 3-0. But the right-hander ran the count full and got Soriano to pop out to end the inning.After the Giants went ahead in the bottom of the sixth, Cain pitched an emphatic shutdown inning. He needed just seven pitches to dispatch the Cubs in the seventh, giving him an opportunity to try to go the distance.Cain dusted off Campana with a slider to end the eighth and he took the mound in the ninth to a standing ovation with 110 pitches under his belt. He was lifted after walking Starlin Castro to start the inning and walked off shaking his head amid another outpouring.Bullpen reportJavier Lopez got two outs on two pitches. Then Sergio Romos knee looked just fine as he threw three sliders to Soriano to record his fourth career save.At the plateMatt Garza, who is expected to be a prized commodity on the trade market, didnt provide the Giants many scoring opportunities after Angel Pagan struck out to strand two in the first inning.But Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera led off the sixth with singles, and after Buster Posey lined out, Pagan hit an end-of-the-bat dribbler for an infield hit to load the bases.It was the 26th consecutive home game with a hit for Pagan, moving him into a tie with Mike Donlin for the all-time franchise record. (The Elias Sports Bureau determined that Donlin hit in 26 consecutive home games in 1905-06.)Garza roared in protest as Aubrey Huff drew a walk on a close, 3-2 pitch inside at the knees, resulting in his fifth RBI of the season and his first since April 16. Then Joaquin Arias followed with a chopper to shortstop that probably wasnt hit hard enough for the Cubs to turn two even if Tinker, Evers and Chance were on their infield.Huff made sure, taking out Darwin Barney with a hard slide as Cabrera scored the tiebreaking run.In fieldThe Giants made a tremendous play on two ends in the fourth inning, when third baseman Arias turned in a barehand pickup of Tony Campanas bunt and fist baseman Huff scooped a throw in the dirt.Everyone liked it but first base umpire Mark Carlson, who was no Bill Klem. Carlson called Campana safe even though the throw beat him by a full step.Posey made a perfect throw from behind the plate and Theriot snapped a tag to catch Campana trying to steal second base. And wouldnt you know it? Second base umpire Cory Blaser got the call right.Arias just keeps getting better at third base. Despite playing on the grass to defense against the bunt, he made a clean pickup of David DeJesus hard grounder and threw on target to second base to start a huge double play in the ninth.AttendanceThe Giants announced 41,239 paid. And yes, those beers were sold at 2012 prices.Up nextThe Giants and Cubs continue their four-game series with the third installment on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. PDT. Left-hander Barry Zito (4-2, 3.41) will take on left-hander Travis Wood (0-1, 5.94). Sleek, modern uniforms will be worn by both teams.

'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).