Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 3, Padres 1

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 3, Padres 1

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SAN DIEGO Try telling Ryan Vogelsong that Friday nights game was meaningless. Try telling Buster Posey, who took a pitch flush to the Adams apple, refused to call it a day and then widened his lead in the NL batting race.And try telling the thousands of orange-clad folks who bought airline tickets from the Bay Area to San Diego weeks ago, in the hopes the Giants would clinch at Petco Park.The Rug Doctors scrubbed down the home clubhouse a week ago, but the Giants did not lack for motivation in a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Padres.Vogelsong put himself back in the conversation for a playoff start after holding down the Padres for the second time in a week. Posey tripled and doubled to raise his average to .334 and Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run double as the Giants improved to 92-65, matching their regular-season victory total from 2010, when they went on to win the first World Series in the franchises six-decade San Francisco era.In terms of playoff seeding, the Giants are three games behind the Reds and Nationals, who would enter the playoffs as the top two seeds if the regular season were to end today. (The Nats hold the tiebreaker with the Reds and would be the No.1 seed.)Because the Giants lost the season series to both the Nats and the Reds, they would have to finish with a better record to leap either of those clubs in postseason seeding.Starting pitching reportRemember when Vogelsong had a knack for escaping jams and pitching free of trouble?He found it over six innings while holding down a lineup that had just seen him a week earlier. The right-hander mixed stuff with toughness to get his team back into the dugout, and did his best work after errors were committed behind him.Vogelsong (14-9) might have gotten a bit lucky in the first inning, when Yonder Alonso lined out to shortstop Brandon Crawford with runners at the corners. But Vogelsong picked up Crawford in the fourth when he picked off Chris Denorfia after the Padres No.5 hitter reached on the shortstops throwing error.Vogelsong made his biggest escape in the sixth, after first baseman Brandon Belt bobbled a ground ball and then threw high to second base. The ball sailed into left field and the Padres had two runners in scoring position with no outs.Alonso hit an RBI single to put the tying runners at the corners, but Vogelsong struck out Denorfia and got Cameron Maybin to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.In his last two starts, Vogelsong has held the Padres to one earned run over 12 innings. He struck out four on Friday while issuing only one walk, and that one was strategic a free pass to No.8 hitter Andy Parrino with a base open in the second inning.Vogelsong is in line to pitch one more time in the regular season. Hed get the ball in Game No.162 Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.Bullpen reportThe Giants bullpen threw three scoreless innings, but there was plenty of intrigue because right-hander Sergio Romo never took off his gray sweatshirt.Left-handers Jose Mijares and Jeremy Affeldt each worked a 1-2-3 inning, and after Javier Lopez got his lefty hitter to start the ninth, manager Bruce Bochy turned to Santiago Casilla instead of Romo.Even after Casilla gave up two singles, Romo didnt do anything more strenuous than stretch as Guillermo Mota got loose on the mound. Casilla got a pop fly and ground out to record his 25th save in 31 chances, though.At the plateA triple and a squibbed single count the same in your batting average, but Buster Posey doesnt believe in half measures.Posey went all-out in the second inning after hitting a ball to the gap in right-center field, reaching for his first triple since 2010. He scored when Hunter Pence tapped an infield single.Xavier Nady caught triples fever, too. He led off the fourth by stretching his first since 2008. But Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford couldnt score him with the infield in.Some other kind of illness overcame Marco Scutaro, who was replaced by Ryan Theriot in the fourth inning because of what the Giants described as head and chest congestion. Before bowing out, Scutaro managed an infield hit to extend his streak to a career-best 16 games.Scutaros single in the third put runners at first and second for Pablo Sandoval, who plated them both with a double to left center that gave the Giants a 3-0 lead. Sandoval later hit a hard out to right field; he might be the one hitter who loves swinging the bat at Petco Park.Posey drew an intentional walk and struck out to finish 2 for 4 and end the day with a .334 average. (rounded up from .33397). Andrew McCutchen, part of a Pirates lineup that was no-hit by the Reds Homer Bailey, is at .33043.In fieldBelts error nearly blew up Vogelsongs victory in the sixth inning, but the first basman also made a diving stop of pitcher Andrew Werners hard grounder down the line in the fifth inning.The scariest moment happened in the second inning when one of Vogelsongs curveballs bounced in the dirt and struck Posey near his throat. The catcher appeared stunned and swallowed repeatedly, but after a consultation with manager Bruce Bochy and head trainer Dave Groeschner, he remained in the game. Three pitches later, Cabrera popped out to strand two runners in scoring position.AttendanceThe Padres announced 32,691 paid, including at least 100 Giants fans who were on the Virgin America Fear the Beard plane with me in the morning out of SFO.Up nextThe Giants continue their series at South China Basin on Saturday. Madison Bumgarner (16-10) makes his final regular-season start. Hell oppose left-hander Eric Stults (7-3, 2.81).

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.