Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Rockies 1

890831.jpg

Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 7, Rockies 1

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Cain does just fine in the pre-Autumn chill. He has a 0.00 postseason ERA to prove it.And theres nothing like a Panda hat to keep those ears warm.Cain and Pablo Sandoval combined to edge the Giants ever closer to their second NL West title in three years and the right to labor into those crisp nights of the postseason. Cain, looking every bit like a Game 1 starter, held the Rockies to a run on four hits in eight innings to claim his career-best 15th victory. And the Kung Fu Panda was jubilant after rediscovering his chop, ending a home run drought of more than two months with a three-run shot in the first inning.The Giants reduced their magic number to five with a 7-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park.Starting pitching reportA Giants starting pitcher has completed seven innings just three times in the teams last 24 games. Those outings belong to Cain, Cain and Cain.There remains internal consternation about the shape and performance of the Giants rotation, but Cain (15-5) is the least of anyones concerns. He scattered four walks and struck out eight while becoming the sixth NL pitcher to reach 15 victories.Already the author of a perfect game and the NLs starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, Cain appears primed for the postseason. He didnt allow a runner into scoring position until the fifth inning, when the Rockies reached on a pair of soft singles and scored a run on a sacrifice fly.Cain began to miss locations while walking Rockies leadoff man Dexter Fowler for the third time, and Josh Rutledge drew another free pass to load the bases. But Cain did not give in when Carlos Gonzalez fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches. The right-hander came back with another 2-2 change-up and Gonzalez rolled it over to second base to end the threat.Cain retired nine of his last 10 hitters to get through eight innings on 116 pitches.Bullpen reportIt was a rare night indeed. Giants manager Bruce Bochy used just one of his 14 relievers, as Jose Mijares pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning. George Kontos got warm. Everyone else had the night off, courtesy of Cain.The Giants played in two hours, 57 minutes.At the plateSandoval had gone 161 at-bats over more than two months since his last home run July 8. He broke the streak by hitting a pitch that nobody else couldve driven out of the park.Tyler Chatwood threw a 1-2 slider and yanked it further inside than catcher Wilin Rosario wanted it. But it wasnt in a safe place for Sandoval, who got his bat out in front on the ankle-high pitch and clanked it off the pole above the right field arcade.Sandoval gave a jolly flip of his bat as he rounded the bases, then descended the dugout to a smattering of high fives -- and a mirthful, mosh-pit style celebration with injured closer Brian Wilson.The three-run shot came after Angel Pagan singled and Marco Scutaro doubled for his 174th hit of the season, matching his career high.It was just the 23rd home run for the Giants in 74 games at AT&T Park and just the third in which more than one runner was on base. Buster Posey and Hunter Pence own the other two three-run shots this seasonChatwood had to be ready to throw his glove in the dirt and quit after Sandoval reached out while hitting a single on an outside change-up in the third. He singled again on a first-pitch slider from Adam Ottavino in the fifth. And then Sandoval, on a busted hit and run, stole his first base of the season. He took third when Rosarios throw went wide and bounded into center field.His third hit started another three-run rally. Hunter Pence singled on a spinning chopper that was as effective as a drop shot at the net, Brandon Belt hit an RBI double and Gregor Blanco served a two-strike, two-run single to right field.It was Blancos third hit of the game, too. He and Sandoval were 6-for-6 at that stage.In fieldCain did well at the plate while executing a sacrifice bunt. He reached on an infield single, too. But his hardest hit ball of the night was a rocket down the line that Rockies first baseman Tyler Colvin somehow snagged with a terrific diving effort.AttendanceThe Giants announced 41,292 paid on Polynesian Heritage Night. Who knew you could pull together a look with fleece and hula skirts?Up nextThe Giants complete a very profitable season series with the Colorado Rockies with the finale of a four-game set Thursday afternoon. Barry Zito (12-8, 4.21), who threw a shutout at Coors Field in his 2012 debut, will look to provide a solid bookend start against Colorado. Hell oppose left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, who is making his season debut after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.

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.