Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Cardinals 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Cardinals 2

ST. LOUIS Buster Posey is putting up video-game numbers. Barry Zito is putting up his best work when its least expected.And Jeremy Affeldt looks like the Giants new man in the ninth inning, in deed if not in name.Poseys three-run home run gave the Giants the lead in the first inning and Zito stayed aggressive, pitching into the seventh without walking a batter as the Giants defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night.Starting pitching reportBack in April, Zitos season debut was a shutout at Coors Field -- proving that baseball is more unpredictable than the weather or the derivatives market.His odds were just as long Tuesday night. Zito entered with an 11.35 ERA in three career starts at Busch Stadium, he was coming off one of his worst outings of the season and the Cardinals talented, right-handed heavy lineup had just made patient, potent work of Matt Cain a night earlier.But Zito (9-8) worked into the seventh inning, he didnt walk a batter and the only runs he allowed came when Cal alum Allen Craig hit solo homers in the third and fifth. (Cal triumphs over USC in all athletic endeavors, right?)It was just the 15th time in Zitos 384 career starts that he completed at least 6 23 innings without walking a batter.The most important out that Zito recorded came in the first inning. Just like his previous start against the Mets, he got two quick outs before the Cardinals threatened on Matt Hollidays single and Carlos Beltrans double. But unlike last time, when the Mets tallied four runs, Zito escaped when David Freese grounded out to shortstop Brandon Crawford.Zito was past his toughest level, too. Entering the game, he had allowed 20 of his 64 runs in the first inning.Zito even brought the universe a little nearer to equilibrium with Skip Schumaker, who entered 7 for 12 off the left-hander. The Cardinals leadoff man went 0 for 4 and struck out on a pitch that hit him.Bullpen reportAffeldt might not be the Giants closer in name, but he is in deed.Clay Hensley got the final out in the seventh and Sergio Romo recorded two outs in the eighth before Yadier Molina hit a double. Affeldt did the rest, retiring Jon Jay and then plowing through the ninth inning to record his third save of the season.Affeldt started a double play when he fielded a comebacker, then struck out Daniel Descalso to end it.Strangely, Santiago Casilla had warmed up in the seventh inning (as did newest Giant Jose Mijares), but it was Brad Penny not Casilla who warmed up behind Affeldt in the ninth.Perhaps Casillas troublesome blister is an issue again.At the platePosey has his own video game app called Buster Bash, and as someone whos downloaded the free game, I can tell you it gets significantly harder to hit home runs after Level 1.In real life, and at the highest level, Posey must have all the pass codes. After his three-run home run off 13-game winner Lance Lynn, these were his video-game numbers since the break: .446 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 22 games.His 30 RBIs since the break are the most by any major leaguer. He has homered in five of his last six games. His hitting streak is up to 11 games, too.Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro singled ahead of Poseys shot off Lynn, which was one of those typical Buster blasts that just kept on carrying to center field.The Giants blew a chance to add to their lead in the second inning, after Nos. 7-8 hitters Brandon Crawford and Joaquin Arias opened it with a double and a single. Zito executed a sacrifice to move Arias into scoring position, too. But after Pagan walked, Scutaro grounded into a double play.They hit into some tough luck when center fielder Jon Jay made a running catch of Pagans deep drive to the warning track to strand two runners in the fourth. Right fielder Carlos Beltran reached near the top of the wall to catch Hunter Pences drive with a man aboard to end the fifth.But the Giants caught a break in the sixth when Brandon Belt, who was running with the pitch to Crawford, stutter-stepped around a tag to avoid a strike em out-throw em out double play. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny argued that Belt was out of the baseline, and it appeared he had veered onto the grass. But Belt was ruled safe and he scored when Arias followed with a double.In fieldThe Giants made outs on the basepaths on consecutive pitches in the seventh inning. Marco Scutaro was thrown out trying to steal second base, then Melky Cabrera doubled on the following delivery. He was thrown out trying to stretch a double, as Beltran recorded his second assist in as many games.AttendanceThe Cardinals announced 41,293 paid. It was the eighth sellout of the season at Busch Stadium. We long for the days when actual Clydesdales paraded around the field during the Seventh Inning Stretch.Up nextThe Giants play the third game of a four-game series at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. Ryan Vogelsong (9-5, 2.38) shoots for his second victory of the road trip. Hell oppose hard-throwing rookie right-hander Joe Kelly (2-4. 3.14), whose ERA suggests it should be easy as pi to hit him.

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco …