Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Mariners 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Mariners 2


SEATTLE For a starting pitcher, the line is so thin. When are you nibbling and when are you refusing to give in?

Ryan Vogelsong simply will not throw a pitch down Broadway. But he does not take small bites. He battled to go deep again Friday night, pitching through early traffic before settling into a groove. Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera hit home runs as the Giants took a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Second baseman Ryan Theriot and shortstop Joaquin Arias combined on an improbable double play to rescue Vogelsong when he had trouble throwing a strike in the fourth inning. The determined right-hander finally settled down and retired the next nine hitters to give the Giants yet another quality start.

Starting pitching report
Vogelsong (6-2) ran his winning streak to six consecutive decisions after holding the Mariners woeful lineup to two runs in seven-plus innings. But his start was nearly better than that.

He carried a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning before consecutive singles sent Giants manager Bruce Bochy to the mound. Both his inherited runners scored, leaving him with a 2.40 ERA.

But Vogelsong relied on some good fortune to escape trouble when he was not sharp at all in the early innings. Jesus Montero hit a ringing double to lead off the second inning and Michael Saunders followed with a wicked line drive to center field. But Angel Pagan had a better read on it than Montero did. Pagan charged the line drive, then lollipopped the ball to the infield to double off the runner.

Vogelsong pitched out of trouble again in the third after Miguel Olivo doubled and Brendan Ryan drew a one-out walk. Vogelsong got Ichiro Suzuki to pop out and then third baseman Pablo Sandoval made a nice, ranging play and running throw to retire Franklin Gutierrez.

The fourth inning was the turning point in the game. Vogelsong kept missing while walking Kyle Seager and Montero, the latter on a 3-1 cutter when he refused to give in and throw a cookie fastball. But Saunders hit a loud out to right field and the middle infield turned a sensational double play on Justin Smoaks hard ground ball.

Bullpen report
Javier Lopez gave up a single to Casper Wells to load the bases in the eighth but he managed to deflect Ichiros chopper up the middle that Arias turned into a forceout at second base.

Sergio Romo kept the inning from getting totally out of hand. He got an RBI ground out from Franklin Gutierrez and did a good job covering first base on Kyler Seagers ground out to Brandon Belt.

Santiago Casilla had his hard fastball and spike curve working while recording his 18th save in 19 chances.

At the plate
The Mariners are frustrated with the hitting conditions in their home ballpark. Sound familiar? It probably has more to do with a deficiency of talent than the spacious dimensions, as Buster Posey demonstrated with his no-doubt home run into the left field seats leading off the second inning.

Poseys shot was his team-leading eighth of the season and it drew a loud cheer from the crowd, which was at least half orange and especially enthusiastic.

The Giants added a run in the fourth when Angel Pagan drew a leadoff walk and Brandon Belt stayed hot by clearing his hips and turning on a pitch for a double to right field. Pagan slipped around third base, but Arias scored him with a sacrifice fly.

Cabrera took a rip at a pitch in the eighth inning for a two-run shot, his sixth of the season. The ball barely cleared the fence in left-center and it came after Gregor Blancos leadoff single.

The Mariners entered the game hitting .198 at Safeco, by the way.

In field
It looked like the Giants would be lucky to get one out on Smoaks sharp ground ball to the right side in the fourth. They got two.

Theriot made an aggressive play and spun toward second base, even though he had to bounce a difficult throw. Arias made a clean pick of it while sweeping across the bag, then made a firm throw to complete the double play.

Theriot applauded Arias on his way off the field. If not for the shortstop, the play likely would have gone for an error and Vogelsong wouldve been in a world of trouble.

The Mariners announced 29,818 paid for Felix Hernandez bobblehead night. Not sure what all those Giants fans will do with them. If Petco Park has become AT&T Park South, Safeco Field is the Giants version of Winterfell.

Up next
Tim Lincecum (2-7, 6.00) takes the mound at Safeco Field for the first time Saturday night, when hell try to pitch the Giants to victory for the first time since April 24. Right-hander Kevin Millwood (3-5, 3.57) starts for the first time since June 8, when he and five relievers combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers here. Millwood departed that start with a strained groin but was deemed fit to return to the rotation.

Cody Ross joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage


Cody Ross joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — While rehabbing an injury in 2014, Cody Ross played for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. When he walked to the plate, Ross got a standing ovation. 

“I absolutely didn’t expect that,” Ross said. “I really didn’t know that there was such a big Giants following there. It was pretty neat. I got teary-eyed. It was incredible.”

That experience, along with recent trips to Napa and Pebble Beach, showed Ross that his contributions to the 2010 title run will never be forgotten in Northern California, Nevada, or anywhere else you’ll find Giants fans. This season, Ross will once again be in front of an adoring fan base. The longtime Major League outfielder will work with NBC Sports Bay Area as an analyst on Giants pre- and post-game shows.

“I’ve always had some interest in doing that,” Ross said. “I can’t say that was the first thing that came to mind when I was a player, but now that I’m out of the game and looking for different avenues to stay in the game, TV is probably the next best thing besides being on the field.”

Ross, 36, actually has been on the field this spring. He has worked with the Giants as a camp instructor, paying particular attention to the outfielders, naturally. The Giants are hopeful that Ross can help a promising group of minor league outfielders, and he has spent much of his time this spring working with infielders — Aaron Hill, Jae-Gyun Hwang and others — who are trying to add left field to the resume.  

Getting back on the field was something Ross was eager to do, and the Giants were the perfect fit since they train near his home north of Scottsdale. Ross still is inundated with autograph seekers at Scottsdale Stadium, despite the fact that it’s been six years since he wore orange and black. When he visits San Francisco, the greetings tend to be the same. Fans constantly approach Ross to shake hands and simply say “thank you for what you did in 2010.”

“That means a lot,” Ross said. “They don’t have to do that. It just kind of goes to show how amazing the fan base is and how passionate they are. They don’t forget.”

It would be hard to. Ross joined the Giants on a waiver claim in August of 2010 and ended up as a key bat during the title run, hitting .294 in the playoffs with five homers and 10 RBI. He was the MVP of the NLCS. 

Ross played one more season with the Giants before stints with the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and A’s. Throughout his career, he said, he would watch pregame shows to try and get updates on opposing teams. He'll get on the other side of the camera for the first time in late April. 

"I’m excited," Ross said. "It should be a fun experience, and it's going to be nice to be back in the Bay Area."

Javier Lopez joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage


Javier Lopez joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Javier Lopez walked through the clubhouse the other day casually flipping a weighted ball into the air. He looked like a left-hander getting ready for another season, and Lopez will in fact spend plenty of time in San Francisco this year. He won’t be on the field, though. He’ll be watching it. 

Lopez will join NBC Sports Bay Area as a studio analyst this season, adding to a schedule that also will include a fair amount of time in the booth with Duane Kuiper. The transition is one Lopez has been thinking about for years, and he said he used to do mock broadcasts from the bullpen in order to mix it up and keep his attention on the game. 

[RELATED: Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage]

“It’s something I definitely was considering toward the end of my career,” Lopez said. “Being recently retired and knowing a good amount of the guys that are on this team still, I think it’ll be a different perspective that I’ll be able to give.”

Lopez is the second left-handed reliever and Core Four member to jump into TV work in the first year of retirement. Jeremy Affeldt joined the network last season and the two will split the road games that Mike Krukow will miss this season, with Affeldt focusing primarily on NL Central series and Lopez handling most of the East Coast trips. 

To prepare, Lopez, who has had two stints in camp as an instructor, has been chatting with former teammates about the intricacies of playing other positions and taking at-bats. He has bounced ideas off players like Buster Posey, but he’s also looking forward to providing the unique perspective of a side-arming left-handed reliever

“Even with the pitching staff, I see things through a different lens than most people,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from everybody.”

Lopez was a clubhouse leader throughout his time with the Giants and he was a co-winner of the Willie Mac Award last season, his seventh in San Francisco. When the postseason was over, Lopez wasn’t sure he would be taking the TV step right away. He made a small list of contenders he would play for in 2017, with a focus on trying to win a fifth ring. 

“There were a couple of phases for me in particular,” he said. “I think I was thinking about knowing for sure that I wasn’t going to be a San Francisco Giant again. That was tough, but in another sense, this isn’t my first team that I’ve been on. I know how the business works. They have a lot of hard throwers as they’ve shown this spring and that’s the way that baseball is trending in the bullpen. We knew that the opportunity here wasn’t going to be there, and I was okay with that. 

“There were some teams I really wanted to go to and some places that I wanted to play, but ultimately those places started filling up pretty quickly with the relievers. The opportunities were available and I could have played — there were offers out there — but I didn’t see myself in those uniforms. If my heart’s not in it, that’s not a good way to go.”