Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, Rockies 3

886017.jpg

Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, Rockies 3

BOX SCORE
SAN FRANCISCO Another sellout crowd rejoiced as the Giants continued to shrink their magic number Tuesday night.But the real magic number was zero. Thats what Tim Lincecum allowed in 6 13 mostly efficient, highly effective innings. Thats the kind of magic that can coax the Giants through three rounds of postseason play.Lincecum piloted through his share of distractions, he walked off the mound to his loudest ovation of the season and Jeremy Affeldt induced a double-play grounder with the bases loaded as the Giants claimed a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park.It was Lincecums first home victory since July 31 against the Mets, snapping a streak of four winless starts at Third and King.Wilin Rosarios two-run homer aside, the Rockies were willing participants. The Giants are 12-4 against Colorado with two games remaining in the season series. They were 13-5 against the Rockies last year, too. As Mike Krukow would say: ownage.With the Dodgers rained out at Washington, the Giants reduced their magic number to seven to clinch the NL West.Starting pitching reportLincecum (10-14) provided a blueprint for the kind of game the Giants coaching staff hoped he could pitch this season. He didnt throw a fastball harder than 91 mph and mostly operated in the 89-90 range, but he established the inside edge to both left-handers and right-handers while getting ground balls with his tighter, late-breaking slider.Lincecum pitched around a hit and a walk in the second inning while beginning a streak in which he retired 11 consecutive batters seven on ground outs, three on strikeouts and just one out in the air.When he made a mistake, like a hanging changeup to Chris Nelson in the fourth inning, shortstop Brandon Crawford was there to spear the one-hop smash.Lincecum offered the seventh quality start in his last 10 outings matching the number he was able to provide in his first 21 starts before the All-Star break. He also became the first Giants pitcher since Jason Schmidt to record double-digit victories in five consecutive seasons.It was just the third time all season that Lincecum did not allow a run. He reduced his ERA to 4.91 the first time its been below 5.00 all season.Even more impressive, Lincecum was able to keep a level head through some odd happenings. After Dexter Fowler reached on a walk to start the sixth, Charlie Blackmon rolled a potential double-play grounder. But Crawfords sidearm throw hit a sliding Fowler on the helmet and bounced all the way behind home plate.Catcher Hector Sanchez threw out Blackmon trying to steal, with second baseman Marco Scutaro making a deft tag.Replays showed the Giants might have gotten a break on the call, though. Lincecum escaped the inning anyway.It got even odder in the seventh. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval made a diving stop and throw to take a base hit away from Tyler Colvin, but plate umpire Angel Hernandez ruled that Colvins bat made contact with Sanchez. The runner was awarded first base on catchers interference.Nelson followed with an infield single on a ball that appeared to cross on the foul side of the bag, and then pinch hitter Josh Rutledge reached on a two-out, broken-bat hit to load the bases with one out.Bochy went to his bullpen and Affeldt got the ground ball he wanted from pinch hitter Jason Giambi. It was hit in a problematic spot up the middle, but the ball appeared to take a hard bounce up where Scutaro could handle it easily and shovel to Crawford to start the double play.Bullpen reportSantiago Casilla allowed a two-run home run to Wilin Rosario, whose 25 homers (in just 344 at-bats) matched Todd Helton for the most by a rookie in Rockies history.The Rockies tacked on a run in the ninth, after Sergio Romo allowed Guillermo Motas runner to score. But a happy handshake line wasnt long in the making.At the plateThe Giants did not add to their major league low 22 home runs at home. And Buster Posey didnt get many chances to add to his MVP application, as Rockies manager Jim Tracy dusted off his Bonds-era four-finger salute and waggled them twice for the cleanup hitter.Yet the Giants found ways to scratch runs in five of their eight innings against left-hander Jeff Francis and the Rockies well worked bullpen.--Sanchez doubled and Xavier Nady hit an RBI single in the second inning.--Scutaros single, Pablo Sandovals double and Poseys intentional walk preceded Hunter Pences sacrifice fly in the third.--The lower half of the order contributed again in the sixth after Pence drew a leadoff walk. Sanchez singled and Nady dumped another RBI single into center to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.--Then Scutaro started another rally in the seventh when he singled, advanced on a wild pitch, advanced on a ground out and scored on yet another wild pitch.--Finally, Gregor Blanco came off the bench as a defensive replacement and almost seemed to slap a double out of the catchers glove in the eighth. Angel Pagan followed with a triple after his line drive escaped the dive of Blackmon in left field and rolled to the wall, then scored on Scutaros third hit of the game.It was Pagans 14th triple of the season, extending his own San Francisco-era franchise record and giving the crowd an opportunity to deliver the ovation he wouldve received if he hadnt passed Willie Mays on the last road trip.Scutaros popularity continues to burgeon, too. He now has 71 hits in just 49 games as a Giant and 173 on the season, third most in the NL and just one away from matching his career high.Scutaro needs to average 1.9 hits per game over the final 14 games to reach 200 a tall order, especially with the Giants positioned to clinch early and pace their starters down the stretch.In fieldSandoval played one of his best games at third base and the Giants played error-free ball aside from the catchers interference call, which is scored as an E2.Pagan probably donated some of his paycheck in this victory, though. He flipped his bat after a called strikeout to end the sixth, and plate umpire Angel Hernandez signaled with his arm three times perhaps the number of equipment violations he would cite in his postgame report to the league office.AttendanceThe Giants announced 41,718 paid. And Angel Hernandez will not receive any extra cards this Christmas.Up nextThe Giants continue their four-game series against the Rockies on Wednesday night. Matt Cain (14-5, 2.93) takes the mound against right-hander Tyler Chatwood (4-4, 5.65).

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.