Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Mets 1


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Mets 1


SAN FRANCISCO While Hunter Pence viewed America from 35,000 feet, the Giants two most important players got good and grounded with each other once more.

No matter what Giants did at the trade deadline, Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey would remain their essence. Their two franchise stars formed a battery once more and it held plenty of charge, as Lincecum pitched the Giants to a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night.

Jeremy Affeldt gave the Giants struggling right-handers a rest in the bullpen, throwing two solid innings to pick up the save and ensure the Giants would break their losing streak at five games.

The Giants didnt exactly take advantage of their two bases-loaded, no-out situations in the second and sixth innings; they scored two runs when the Mets botched a double-play grounder and added another when Marco Scutaro bounced into two.

Starting pitching report

Theres no such thing as an all better now start for Lincecum at this stage of the season, but he turned in his third strong outing over a span of four assignments.

Lincecum (5-11) survived some hard contact early to hold the Mets to a run on six hits. He issued just one walk and struck out seven.

More impressive than his linescore was the way he achieved it. Lincecum didnt back down and kept pumping strikes, and he appeared to have much more Timmy-like finish on his pitches. When he wanted to bury a curveball, he did. When he wanted to throw it to the bottom of the zone for strikes, he did. When he wanted to get a ground ball, he got the Mets to swing over the top of his fading change-up.

The Mets scored a run in the second inning when Scott Hairston singled and Justin Turner roped a two-out double. But Lincecum retired 10 of the next 11 hitters and managed to avoid that early pitfall inning that causes his pitch count to runneth over and saps him for the remainder of the game.

His challenge came late this time. Hairston -- of course -- hit a one-out single and Lincecum missed high while walking Mike Baxter. Turner loaded the bases when his chopper barely stayed fair and third baseman Marco Scutaro, perhaps stunned when it wasnt called foul, couldnt beat Hairston to the bag.

Lincecum got a jam-shot liner from Josh Thole that was an eyelash away from turning into a double play. Second baseman Ryan Theriot flipped to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who stepped on the bag at almost the exact instant Baxter slid back to it.

Lincecum reacted with obvious disappointment, but he did not break focus. With the sellout crowd on its feet, the two-time Cy Young Award winner met the moment. First, he executed to get ahead of pinch hitter David Wright, the most threatening presence in a Mets uniform. Wright didnt bite on Lincecums 1-2 change-up, which splashed in the dirt. But Posey kept the pitch in front of him and Lincecums next one was a thing of beauty a humpback curve that appeared to get sucked into Poseys glove as Wright took it for a called third strike.

Lincecum completed seven innings for the third time in four starts. Before that, hed lasted seven innings in just four of his first 18 starts.

Bullpen report

Sergio Romo, who allowed damaging home runs in each of his last two outings, warmed up in the ninth but Bochy didnt go to him. Affeldt retired all six hitters he faced and struck out three of them to continue a sparkling second half.
At the plate

The Giants knew they would have a tough time against right-hander Matt Harvey, who struck out 11 in 5 13 innings while making his major league debut at Arizona last Thursday.

They didnt exactly seize on a scoring opportunity in the second inning, when they loaded the bases with no outs on Poseys single, Marco Scutaros double and a walk to Brandon Belt. Justin Christian, playing because Angel Pagans hand remained too sore, tapped to the mound for a forceout at the plate and Crawford followed with a shrink-wrapped double-play grounder. But Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada threw wildly to first base, allowing the inning to continue as two runs scored.

The Giants had a 2-1 lead gift-wrapped for them, but had trouble adding on.

The double-play grounder was their weapon of choice again in the sixth, after Theriot doubled and Melky Cabrera executed a perfect bunt single that rolled up the third-base line. After Posey walked to load the bases with no outs, a run scored on Scutaros double-play grounder.

The Giants added another run in the eighth in Scutaros two-out single.
Scutaro's turn as the No. 5 hitter was a one-shot deal. Pence arrived at the ballpark in the eighth inning and is expected to make his Giants debut on Wednesday.
In field

Posey took his lumps behind the plate, fouling a ball off his right foot and blocking another with his manly parts. Thats one of the reasons he hadnt caught any of Lincecums previous seven starts.

But the two stars formed a solid pair all night.

The Giants announced 41,774 paid. Those who arrived early had a chance to purchase the rare and limited Hunter Pence No. 2 jersey sure to be worth more someday than a stamp with an upside-down airplane on it. (A special reference for all you philatelists out there.)
Up next

The Giants continue their four-game series with the Mets with a Wednesday night game. Right-hander Matt Cain (10-3, 2.80) opposes left-hander Jonathon Niese (2-5, 4.58.) In case you were curious, Hunter Pence is 3-for-21 (.143) with no extra-base hits in his career against Niese.

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.