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 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 

 

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.