Giants

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.

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

***

Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”