Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 9, Braves 0

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 9, Braves 0

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ATLANTA Buster Poseys hometown of Leesburg is three hours south of Atlanta on I-75 and a world away.He said it more than once during the NL Division Series in 2010: Atlanta is not his hometown, nothing like the place where he grew up.But maybe its not such a bad place to hit.Playing in only his second regular-season series at Turner Field, Posey exploded for a three-hit, five-RBI game while leading the Giants to a 9-0 red-velvet cakewalk over the Braves Tuesday night.The Giants achieved just their second shutout in the 16-year history of Turner Field. Both times, they got seven shutout innings from Barry Zito. The other shutout came in 2008.It was also the Giants largest shutout win in Atlanta since Sept. 29, 1976 the day John Montefusco threw his no-hitter in a 9-0 victory.Posey powered this one. He hit a two-strike, two-out RBI double in the first inning, a two-strike, two-out RBI single in the third and a two-strike, bases-clearing double in the fourth off reliever Luis Avilan. He lined out and struck out in his last two trips, leaving him one short of matching his career high of six RBIs, which he set July 7, 2010 at Milwaukee.Posey started at first base but moved behind the plate in the fourth inning after Hector Sanchez sprained his left knee on the basepaths. The severity of Sanchezs injury was not immediately known, but all sprains are ligament tears to some degree. If Sanchez must go on the disabled list, Eli Whiteside is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster.The Giants, at 50-40, became the fifth major league club to reach the 50-win mark.Starting pitching reportThe Giants offense carried the day against right-hander Jair Jurrjens, but there was no understating the importance of Zitos highly effective start especially against a Braves lineup that had mashed for an average of 6.1 runs over a seven-game winning streak.Zito entered 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four career starts at Turner Field and improved on those numbers. He gave up just three hits two singles and a double in seven shutout innings and issued just one walk as the Giants shut out the Braves for the second time in the 16-year history of Turner Field.The other time? It was Aug. 18, 2008 when Zito threw seven shutout innings, and Keiichi Yabu and Sergio Romo followed with scoreless frames.Prior to that, the Giants hadnt posted a shutout in Atlanta since Sept. 30, 1992, when Jeff Brantley, Bill Swift and Rod Beck combined for a 1-0 win at old Fulton County Stadium.Zito (8-6) set the tone the rotation needed on this six-game road trip to Atlanta and Philadelphia; the Giants entered the trip with a 4.85 road ERA that ranked as the third worst in the major leagues.Bullpen reportThe roles of Messrs. Yabu and Romo were played by George Kontos and Clay Hensley, Esq.At the platePosey had a big return to his home state, but two former Braves had productive nights as well. Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco were constantly on base in front of Posey.Blanco walked twice, scored two runs and hit an RBI single. Cabrera hit a hustle double and an RBI single for his major league-leading 41st multi-hit game of the season. He also leads the majors with 122 hits.In 2010 with the Braves, Cabrera had 117 hits all season, and just 27 multi-hit games.Its July 17, by the way.In fieldThe Braves made most of the highlight grabs. Left fielder Martin Prado made a running catch on Ryan Theriot near the wall in the fifth inning, and future Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones robbed Pablo Sandoval of a hit in the sixth.But the Braves also made the biggest goof of the night when Angel Pagan grounded to first baseman Freddie Freeman to start the fourth. Jurrjens failed to step on the bag after receiving the throw, leading to an infield hit and opening the door to a six-run inning.AttendanceThe Braves announced 29,623 paid. Many foam tomahawks went unchopped.Up nextThe Giants continue their series at Turner Field on Wednesday as right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (7-4, 2.36) takes the mound against left-hander Mike Minor (5-6. 5.97). The Giants have won 10 of Vogelsongs last 12 starts; they even have a winning record (4-3) in his road assignments. Vogelsong has faced the Braves just once in his career, when he threw 3 13 scoreless relief innings in April of last season.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.

 

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.