Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, Nationals 1

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, Nationals 1

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO What task was tougher Tuesday night? Taming the Washington Nationals snarling lineup, or scratching some runs off N.L. ERA leader Jordan Zimmermann?Madison Bumgarner used the snare, the whip and his biting stuff to keep the Nationals at bay while tossing his second career complete game. And Brandon Belt did the rest, missing a two-home run night by a combined three feet -- and getting thrown out on the bases twice by a slightly bigger margin -- as the Giants took a 6-1 victory at AT&T Park.This was a feel-good win, and not just because it was the Giants first in five tries against the National League's top team.Belt provided relief, frustration and some head-slapping comedy all in one dose. And then he did it again.He was thrown out at third base after doubling in a run with a shot just below the top of the left field wall in the second inning. Unbelievably, he ran into another out in the sixth when he tried to stretch a single that struck the bricks a few inches below the top of the right field arcade.Belt might have run the Giants out of bigger innings, but all was forgiven -- especially since he has five multi-hit games in the past nine days. After hitting .186 in July, Belt is a sizzling 17-for-36 in August.Zimmermann lost for the first time since June 22 at Baltimore, nine starts ago.Starting pitching reportBumgarner (13-7) didnt own a complete game entering this season. Hes got two now.He held the Nationals to five hits and a run while throwing 74 strikes among his 108 pitches.It was quite an improvement over the fireworks extravaganza that the Nationals set off against him on July 4. Back then, Bumgarner gave up three homers on the way to seven earned runs -- both season highs -- in five innings.Bumgarner let his home dimensions work to his advantage this time. But he had swing-and-miss stuff, too.Slinging hard fastballs and sliders from his easy, three-quarters delivery, Bumgarner faced the minimum over the first three innings. Then he kept his poise in the fourth after the Nats threatened with a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt that Bumgarner mishandled while failing to record an out.The left-hander recovered against the middle of Washingtons lineup by inducing soft outs in the air from Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, then the pitcher handled Adam LaRoches comebacker to the mound to strand both runners.The Nationals barely threatened again.Bullpen reportSergio Romo warmed up in the bottom of the eighth and Jeremy Affeldt got loose in the ninth. What more do you need to know?At the plateZimmermann (9-7) entered with an N.L.-best 2.35 ERA and led the league with 20 quality starts, including 12 of the last 13.But the Giants worked him in almost every inning. It took a diving play from first baseman Adam LaRoche on Pablo Sandoval to strand two runners in the first inning.The Giants threatened again in the second after Hunter Pence singled and Belt drove a pitch the opposite way that hit two feet below the top of the left-field wall. Pence scored easily but Belt was thrown out as he tried to stretch his double.Zimmermann showed why hes become one of the leagues top pitchers in the fifth, after Angel Pagan singled and Marco Scutaro followed by executing a hit-and-run single to put runners at the corners. But this was Zimmermanns forte; the right-hander entered with a .140 opponents average with runners in scoring position -- the stingiest mark in the N.L.Incidentally, three Giants Bumgarner (.168), Ryan Vogelsong (.181) and Matt Cain (.185) ranked second through fourth in the league in that department.Zimmermann set up Melky Cabrera with a series of inside pitches that the major leagues hits leader pulled foul. Then Zimmermann came back with a 1-2 pitch in the dirt that Cabrera couldnt lay off, ending the inning.But Belt saw the ball well all night, and he came up in another RBI spot in the sixth when Sandoval walked and Pence lined a one-out single. This time Belt turned on a pitch and sent it soaring just a few inches below the top of the right field arcade -- making him less than three feet removed from a two-homer night.Sandoval scored to give the Giants a 2-0 lead but unbelievably, Belt was thrown out on the bases yet again. This time he paid for admiring his shot down the first-base line, and was thrown out at second base.Brandon Crawford followed with a deep fly out to right field that wouldve scored Pence if there were just one out.Zimmermanns night ended with Belts second RBI hit. It was only the second time all season that he didnt complete six innings. He still hasnt allowed a home run to the Giants in six career starts and 36 23 innings, though.Cabreras double touched off a four-run outburst in the eighth against Nationals right-hander Drew Storen. Sandoval hit a sacrifice fly and Belt came through again, grounding an RBI single through the right side. This time, Belt got to stand on a base, too.Then the Giants borrowed a bit from the Nationals' playbook from Monday night, scoring twice more on infield singles to break the game open.Belt tied his career high with three RBIs (done six other times). Meanwhile, Pence had his first three-hit game as a Giant.In fieldBuster Posey leapt from his crouch to field Jesus Flores tapper in front of the plate in the fifth inning. Just as important, Posey had the presence of mind to remember who was running as he took time to make an accurate throw.Pence did not have his finest hour in right field while trying to chase down Werths triple in the seventh. Pence tapped his chest, making the universal symbol for, My bad.It should be pointed out that shortstop Brandon Crawford had another quietly sensational night with the glove, too.AttendanceThe Giants announced 42,081 paid. Thats a lot of calf-sitters.Up nextThe Giants finish a six-game homestand as well as conclude their season series with the Washington Nationals with a Wednesday matinee. Its a marquee matchup, all right. Tim Lincecum (6-12, 5.35) faces electric-armed right-hander Stephen Strasburg (13-5, 2.90), who probably will make just four or five more starts before the Nationals shut him down as a precaution.

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

BELT RIVER FIELDS, Ariz. — Earlier this spring, Brandon Belt moved his schedule around so he could get additional at-bats. That led to some random trips across the desert, but there was never any doubt Belt would be in Friday’s road lineup.

Belt demolishes the ball at Salt River Fields, spring home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. After coming out of Friday’s win, he shook his head in mock disgust when talking about the day’s stats.

“One for four, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” Belt said. “That’s terrible.”

That one happened to be a homer, a three-run shot off Jon Gray, the likely opening day starter for the Rockies. Belt thought he crushed the ball but it ended up pretty high, so it simply dropped onto the berm in right. 

“It squeaked out,” Belt said. “Good mojo, I guess.”

The mojo kept his remarkable run going at Salt River. His updated career stats here: 22 for 35, with eight homers, four doubles, one triple and 18 RBI. Belt said he’s not quite sure why he turns into the flames emoji every time he steps onto this field. 

“I don’t know what it is, but I like hitting here,” he said. “Maybe it’s the batter’s eye?”

Salt River has a dark green batter’s eye with no distractions on either side, and the Giants certainly saw the ball well Friday. They had seven straight hits in the third before Gray was pulled with a sore foot. Belt hit second, and manager Bruce Bochy said that wasn’t simply because Joe Panik had the day off. Bochy will look at several different lineup permutations over the next week, and a Span/Belt/Pence/Posey/Crawford one-through-five is one option. 

“I like (that spot) a lot,” Belt said. “I feel good getting started and knowing I’ll get to bat in the first inning. It’s a good spot. I don’t think my approach changes that much: Get a pitch to hit and try to hit it hard.”

GAME RECAP: Jeff Samardzija was sharp in four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. He threw about 45 pitches on the field and then went down to the bullpen for 45 more. Samardzija certainly benefited from having Buster Posey back in the lineup. He said Posey noticed during warmups that Samardzija’s delivery was a little flat and his arm was dragging too low. 

“That doesn’t happen often,” Samardzija said of having a guy like Posey back there. “You have a lot of catchers who are afraid to say something.”

The rest of this one was a laugher until the ninth, when the Rockies rallied and brought the winning run to the plate. It hasn’t been a great spring for the bullpen.

STOCK WATCH: Chris Marrero hit a deep homer, his seventh of the spring. He also made a nice pick at first, where he looks much more comfortable. At this point, it appears it’s either Marrero or Kelby Tomlinson for that final bench spot.

TRAINER’S ROOM: The news on Will Smith was as expected. He will have Tommy John surgery next week. 

There is good news for Trevor Brown: The catcher, who has a sore ankle, took some swings and he’s feeling much better. Brown did not, as first reported, get hurt hiking on an off day. It happened during a game. Brown won’t be ready in time to return to Cactus League action, so he’ll likely stay here during the Bay Bridge Series and then travel home with Triple-A Sacramento. 

ICYMI: Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Mark Melancon are back in camp. Here’s a story on Posey’s WBC experience, with the catcher saying he’d like to play again in four years. Here’s Crawford on his month, which ended with him giving an NL West rival a slump-busting bat. 

ROSTER UPDATE: The Giants released David Hernandez, at his request. They have started to tell others that they’re not making the opening day roster, so there should be a series of minor transactions this weekend. (You know where to go.)

QUOTABLE: "I swung at a heater and a slider went right into my bat. I was happy to be able to track (pitches), and happy that the next time the bunt didn't go off my beautiful face." -- Samardzija, when asked about his double off the wall. 

Plenty of high-profile MLB players wearing new uniforms in 2017

Plenty of high-profile MLB players wearing new uniforms in 2017

Chris Sale traded socks (AP) -- or Sox - from white to red. Edwin Encarnacion took his big bat to Cleveland. Aroldis Chapman returned to the Bronx.

Plenty of All-Stars, Cy Young winners and MVPs are wearing new uniforms this season.

The biggest move occurred when the Boston Red Sox acquired Sale from the Chicago White Sox. The five-time All-Star left-hander left a team that hasn't reached the playoffs since 2008 for one that's won three World Series titles since 2004.

Encarnacion left Toronto for the team that beat the Blue Jays in last year's ALCS. He averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs over the past five seasons in Toronto and gives the Indians a major boost.

Chapman is back in New York after spending the first half of last season with the Yankees before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs and helped them win the World Series.

Here's a 25-man roster of familiar faces in different places this season:

STARTING LINEUP

1. CF: Dexter Fowler. Jumped from World Series champion Cubs to rival St. Louis. Gives the Cardinals stability atop the batting order.

2. RF: Adam Eaton. Traded from White Sox to defending NL East champion Nationals. He'll play center field in Washington between Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper.

3. DH: Kendrys Morales. Joined Blue Jays to help fill Encarnacion's void after spending past two seasons with the Royals.

4. 1B: Encarnacion.

5. C: Brian McCann. Traded from Yankees to Astros, giving Houston's stacked lineup another slugger.

6. SS: Ian Desmond. Returns to NL to join Rockies after one season playing outfield in Texas. He'll play first base for Colorado, but he's back at shortstop on this squad.

7. LF: Matt Holliday. Signed with Yankees following 7 1/2 seasons in St. Louis. The seven-time All-Star will likely DH in New York though he'll see some action in left field.

8. 2B: Brandon Phillips. Waived no-trade clause to go to rebuilding Braves after 11 seasons with Reds.

9. 3B: Howie Kendrick. Comes east after spending his entire career in Los Angeles - nine seasons with Angels and last two with Dodgers. Kendrick is playing left field for Philadelphia but he starts at third to fill this lineup.

BENCH

1B: Chris Carter. Landed with Yankees after swatting 41 homers for Milwaukee last season to tie for NL lead.

INF: Jimmy Rollins. Former NL MVP is trying to land a roster spot with San Francisco as a utility man after playing all but one-third inning of his 17-year career at shortstop. Has bounced from Dodgers to White Sox to Giants after 15 seasons in Philadelphia.

OF: Michael Saunders. All-Star for Blue Jays last season and will start in right field for Phillies.

OF: Carlos Beltran. Returns to Houston after spending half the 2004 season with the Astros and hitting eight postseason homers for them.

C: Matt Wieters. Left Baltimore for Washington to replace All-Star Wilson Ramos, who joined Tampa Bay and is still recovering from knee surgery.

STARTING ROTATION

Sale.

Edinson Volquez. Goes from Royals to Marlins.

Jaime Garcia. Lefty joins Braves after eight seasons in St. Louis.

Jered Weaver. Stays in California, switching to Padres after 11 seasons with Angels.

R.A. Dickey. Knuckleballer returns to NL East after four seasons in Toronto. One of two 40-plus former Cy Young award winners signed by Braves.

LONG RELIEVER

Bartolo Colon. Other veteran Braves signed to bolster rotation. He'll be long man on this staff.

BULLPEN

Chapman.

Mark Melancon. Signed with Giants after finishing last season in Washington.

Sergio Romo. Went from San Francisco to rival Dodgers.

Wade Davis. Traded from Royals to Cubs to replace Chapman.

Santiago Casilla. Stays in Bay Area, going from Giants to A's.