Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 5, Rangers 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 5, Rangers 2


SAN FRANCISCO The Giants have Pablo Sandoval back in the fold. Now theyre missing Melky Cabrera, who has a tender hamstring.

Once again, theyre finding a way to pick up the slack.

Sandoval showed some spirit in his first game off the disabled list Saturday, coming back from nearly getting hit on the hand to line an RBI single in the seventh inning. And Nate Schierholtz, who replaced Cabrera in the lineup for the second consecutive day, rediscovered his extra-base swing.

Ryan Vogelsong showed the most fight of anyone, holding baseballs most potent lineup to three hits while taking a shutout into the eighth inning as the Giants beat the Texas Rangers 5-2 at AT&T Park.

Schierholtz hit a 400-foot triple and a ground-rule double to help pad a lead that the Giants created with small ball and smarts.

The Giants must play the small game effectively at AT&T Park, since the home runs still arent coming.

They played their 15th consecutive home game without a home run, matching the longest streak in franchise history (Sept. 4 to Oct. 3, 1980). They have gone 477 at-bats and 127 innings at home without going deep.

They have just one home run in their last 20 home games, too.

Starting pitching report
Only Vogelsong could hold baseballs best offensive team to one run on three hits in 7 23 innings and still look absolutely ticked to exit the game with a four-run lead.

Vogelsong (5-2) scowled as he walked off the mound to a thunderous ovation after another of his typically brilliant starts. He completed seven innings for the seventh time in his last outings; he still hasnt pitched fewer than six innings in a start this season.

Vogelsong needed to pitch out of two early jams. He got grounders to third base from Michael Young in the first inning and Ian Kinsler in the second to strand two runners each time.

Then he settled into a groove and the Giants defense kept making plays behind him. Vogelsong didnt allow another runner into scoring position until Mitch Moreland hit a booming, pinch-hit homer into McCovey Cove leading off the eighth inning.

He retired the next two hitters before reluctantly handing over the baseball. Vogelsong lowered his ERA to 2.26 fourth best among all major league starters.

Vogelsong has won five consecutive decisions; he hasnt lost since May 4.

Bullpen report
Javier Lopez surrendered a double to Josh Hamilton in the eighth, but Sergio Romo got Adrian Beltre to ground out to end the inning.

Clay Hensley served up a solo homer in the ninth to Mike Napoli in the ninth, setting up a save situation for Santiago Casilla. He converted it for his 16th in 17 opportunities.

At the plate
The top of the lineup keeps creating opportunities, but it was Vogelsongs first hit of the season that started a scoring rally in the third inning.

Vogelsong was 0 for 20 with 18 strikeouts and had taken plenty of ribbing for it before he lined a single up the middle with one out. (Vogelsongs early-season back issues probably had something to do with his swing. Hes a former college shortstop whos proud of his hitting.)

Vogelsong advanced on a balk and the Giants had runners at the corners after Gregor Blanco singled. When Theriot hit a potential double-play grounder to second baseman Ian Kinsler, Blanco noted that shortstop Elvis Andrus wasnt rushing to cover the bag and so he stopped dead in his tracks rather than run into a tag. Kinsler, clearly flummoxed, overthrew first base. Vogelsong scored and the Rangers didnt record an out.

The Giants scored another run in the fifth after left fielder Hamilton let Brandon Crawfords pop fly tick off his glove for a two-base error. Right-hander Scott Feldman struck out the next two hitters, but Theriot remained reliable with two outs. He rifled a single to right field and Crawford scored without a play to make it 2-0.

Schierholtz tripled home Angel Pagan in the sixth inning his first extra-base hit since April 23 at New York. It was a 400-foot shot off the bricks and it came off tough left-hander Robbie Ross, who had allowed just one other extra-base hit in 44 at-bats to left-handed hitters this season.

Sandoval, one pitch after he was nearly hit on the hand by an inside offering from Koji Uehara, lined an RBI single and Pagan hit an RBI double as the Giants padded their lead in the seventh.

In field
Blanco didnt only show his smarts on the basepaths. He nearly created an out in the second inning when he sprinted from left field to sneak behind Napoli and cover third base on a sacrifice bunt. Theriot threw across the diamond and the Giants nearly caught Napoli napping.

There were plenty of other defensive gems. Pagan is getting as comfortable with center field at AT&T Park as he is at the plate here. He made a sprinting, tumbling, dust-cloud forming catch on Beltre in the third inning.

Brandon Belt speared a line drive at first base in the fourth and Schierholtz, despite plenty of time in the bench in recent weeks, showed no lack of familiarity with right field while making two running catches in the fifth.

Crawford had a quietly solid game at shortstop, charging one tough grounder and making a deft stop on Beltres one-hop smash to end the eighth.

Sandoval looked perfectly adequate at third base as well, even turning the pivot well on a forceout at second base in the first inning when the infielders were shifted against Hamilton.

The Giants announced 41,704 paid, including a smattering of Texas Rangers fans.

Up next
The Giants and Rangers finish their three-game series with a Sunday afternoon game at AT&T Park. Tim Lincecum (2-6, 5.83) will try to pitch the Giants to a victory for the first time since April 28. Hell face right-hander Alexi Ogando (1-0, 2.27), who replaces lefty Derek Holland in the Texas rotation. Lincecum has never faced the Rangers in the regular season; he was 2-0 against them in the 2010 World Series.

Pence chases Span home in win over Phillies: 'That's Hunter being Hunter'

Pence chases Span home in win over Phillies: 'That's Hunter being Hunter'

SAN FRANCISCO — Denard Span has played enough center field at AT&T Park that he knew not to assume anything when Jarrett Parker crushed a ball to dead center. Span, standing on second, held up for a second to make sure the ball got over Nick Williams. Hunter Pence, standing on first, had a better view, and he took off with the crack of the bat. As Pence approached Span, he tried to yell over the crowd. 

“Go!” Pence yelled.

Span didn’t hear him. 

“I just felt him,” he said later, smiling. 

Span raced around third and Pence roared up on his back like the third sprinter in a 4x100 relay trying to hand off a baton. Span crossed first and Pence was inches behind him, stretching the lead to three runs. 

“It’s one of those plays that’s a little weird but it worked out,” Pence said. 

Jeff Samardzija, the pitcher of record in a 5-4 win over the Phillies, said Pence “was on a mission.” Span said simply, “That’s Hunter being Hunter.”

“I knew he was right on my heels,” he said. “I was trying to run as fast as I could. In my defense, he had a running start. It was fun, though, it was fun. I’ve never had anyone chasing me like that on the bases.”

The moment brought some levity to a season that’s been lacking it. Span laughed as he crossed the plate and the dugout was full of smiles and jokes as the two returned. But on a grander scale, it was a reminder of what Pence has been and what the Giants need him to be if they are to recover from this season. Pence is signed for 2018 at a hefty price. The odds are good that he'll be in right field, so it’s been a relief for coaches and team officials to see Pence pick it up in recent weeks. 

Pence had a hit and two walks on Thursday, scoring two runs and driving in another. He is batting .346 in August. 

“He has just been making more consistent contact and staying in the strike zone more,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

That has led to better results at the plate, and Pence has provided reminders that the physical skills are still there. After going 0-for-AT&T Park in the first half he hit a couple of homers on the last homestand. Statcast’s Sprint Speed shows that Pence is actually running faster at his top speed than in the past couple of years, when he battled injuries. Pence is at 28.2 feet per second this year, a tick up from 28.1 each of the past two seasons. 

“Baseball goes in waves,” he said. “I’ve had some tough stretches, but right now I’m in a stretch where I’m going better and I’m still trying to improve.”

On Thursday, he pushed a teammate to run just a little faster. But perhaps Pence’s good friend deserves some credit for Span’s speed, too. After stealing his fifth base a few days back, Buster Posey started needling Span. The leadoff hitter has three stolen bases in seven games since that point, getting to eight for the year. 

“He was just talking too much trash,” Span said of Posey. 

Span said Posey mentioned their equal stolen base totals two or three times. He didn’t respond because he couldn’t. Now, he has bragging rights again, and he’s enjoying it. 

“Check the tapes,” Span said as reporters started to walk away from his locker. “I think I’ve got a stolen base off of him.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants fight off Phillies for victory

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants fight off Phillies for victory


SAN FRANCISCO — In a battle of the National League’s two worst teams, the Giants struck first. 

The lineup jumped out to an early lead and the new-look bullpen took it home in a 5-4 win over the visiting Phillies. The Giants scored five runs off budding ace Aaron Nola, and Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland and Sam Dyson shut it down in the final three innings, in that (new) order. 

What a recipe for a victory. They should try that more often, in my opinion. Anyway, here are five things you should know … 

—- Hunter Pence and Denard Span combined for a funny moment in the three-run fifth. Span held up on Jarrett Parker’s ball off the wall and then took off from second; Pence had been on first, and he ran right up Span’s back as they approached the plate. Span heard him coming. He was laughing as he scored. 

—- With those runs, the Giants became the first team since June 16 to score more than two runs off Nola. The 2017 Giants are weird. 

—- Span stole second before scoring in the fifth. He has three stolen bases in seven games since Buster Posey’s mini run-of-speed. Posey had been talking trash to the leadoff hitter. 

—- Jeff Samardzija got the win, but this wasn’t one he’ll remember fondly. He needed a slick Tomlinson-Crawford double play to help get through the sixth. Samardzija was charged with four earned on eight hits.

—- Cameron Rupp flipped his bat when he hit a rocket off Samardzija in the fifth. It for sure looked like a premature bat-flip, but the ball kept carrying and landed in the arcade section above Triples Alley. Cameron Rupp is right-handed. That’s an absolute blast for a right-hander in a night game at AT&T Park. I don’t know where he would play but the Giants should trade for him.