Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Cubs 3

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Cubs 3

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Every angle favored the Giants against the Cubs on Friday.

The Giants were 12-2 in Madison Bumgarners last 14 home starts. The Cubs were 2-9 against left-handed starters, and they were facing a very good one.

And hey, the Cubs are having a pretty bad century.

The Giants did what good teams do. They played crisply against an obviously inferior team, then barely survived for a 4-3 victory. Melky Cabrera stayed sizzling into June, Angel Pagan put himself into the club record book and Bumgarner took a shutout into the ninth inning.

But he allowed consecutive singles to start the ninth, and even though hed thrown just 102 pitches, Giants manager Bruce Bochy didnt let him try for his first career complete game.

The game got interesting in a hurry. Santiago Casilla entered, served up a three-run homer and only retired one of the next three hitters. Whats worse, he walked off the mound with the assistance of a trainer after he tried to make a play on Darwin Barneys infield chopper.

Javier Lopez entered with the tying and go-ahead runners on base and got a ground ball and a fly out to preserve Bumgarners victory and Bochys head from the postgame rotisserie.

The Giants are four games behind the reeling Los Angeles Dodgers their smallest deficit in the NL West since May 8.

Starting pitching report
Bumgarner entered with a streak of three consecutive losing decisions. He snapped it emphatically while setting a season high with 11 strikeouts.

Bumgarner got ahead with his fastball and used his changeup and curveball to keep the Cubs consistently off balance. He needed strikeout stuff in the first inning when Cubs leadoff man Tony Campana singled, advanced on a balk and stole third base with one out. Bumgarner struck out the side to strand him.

He allowed consecutive singles in the second inning but used a double-play grounder and a strikeout to escape. He didnt allow another runner into scoring position until the ninth.

Over his last three starts, Bumgarner has 28 strikeouts in 21.2 innings.

Bullpen report
Casilla was wild from the outset. He missed very high while falling behind Soriano, then paid for a mistake in the zone as the Cubs made it 4-3 with one swing. It was the third homer allowed by Casilla this season; he allowed just one all of last year.

After a ground out and a double, Barney hit a tapper to the left of the mound. Casilla planted awkwardly and threw across his body while bouncing his throw. He appeared in obvious pain and walked off the field with assistant trainer Mark Gruesbeck.

Lopez entered with runners at first and second and did not blink. Steve Clevengers ground out advanced both runners, and then pinch hitter David DeJesus flied out. The Giants outfield joined in a celebratory hip check and Lopez recorded his second save in three seasons with the club.

At the plate
Cabrera used a day off to rest, but not to rest on his laurels. Following an impossibly good 51-hit May, Cabrera kicked off June with a single and a triple in his first two at-bats.

The Giants got their No.2 hitter on base in front of Cabrera, too. Ryan Theriot continues to show life since he came off the disabled list, reaching base in each of his first four plate appearances with a double, two singles and a walk.

Leadoff man Gregor Blanco, who entered with a .401 on-base percentage, led off the first inning with a walk and scored easily when Theriot ripped a good, down-and-in pitch for a double down the left field line. Cabreras single moved Theriot to third and Buster Posey hit a sacrifice fly to shallow center field. The Giants had the Cubs well scouted; third base coach Tim Flannery sent Theriot, who scored easily on center fielder Tony Campanas noodle arm.

Theriot and Cabrera ignited the Giants for another two-run rally in the third. Theriot lined a single and Cabrera got the barrel on an outside curveball, lifting it over Campanas head for a triple. It was his seventh of the season; hes already just five away from matching the San Francisco-era franchise record of 12 set by Willie Mays in 1960 and matched by Steve Finley in 2006.

Posey followed with a single up the middle to score Cabrera and give the Giants a 4-0 lead.

Pagan already has his own place in the Giants record books. When he blooped a single in the third inning, he extended his home hitting streak to 25 games the longest by a Giant going back at least to 1918, when data is available.

Pagan was hitless in the home opener but has hit safely in every game at AT&T Park since then. He accepted a line of handshakes and hugs in the dugout after he was erased on a double-play grounder.

In field
All of Bumgarners strikeouts didnt lull his infielders to sleep. They turned a pair of double plays behind the left-hander.

Cabrera had the other highlight, when he cut off a single and threw a photon to second base to prevent a Cubs runner from thinking two. Theriot and shortstop Brandon Crawford shared a look of disbelief.

It wasnt as rosy for the Cubs, who probably couldnt have beaten the squad of potential draftees the Giants worked out on the same field a day earlier. Two Cubs infielders let Joaquin Arias foul pop drop in the second inning. And Starlin Castro was thrown out trying to steal in the third when Joe Mather apparently missed a sign and took a strike down the middle. Castro slowed up and appeared confused as he was tagged on the chest.

Attendance
The Giants announced 41,100 paid. Its the 110th consecutive regular-season sellout at AT&T Park. Cubs fans are not entitled to a refund.

Up next
The Giants and Cubs continue their four-game series with a 4:15 p.m. game Saturday. Itll be right-hander Matt Cain (5-2, 2.79) vs. right-hander Matt Garza (2-3, 4.22).

It seems almost cruel, but with a victory, Cain would even his career record at 75-75. The criminally unsupported All-Star pitcher hasnt been .500 for his career since May 31, 2007, when he was 22 years old and took the mound with a 17-17 record.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.