Baggs' Instant Replay: Mets 2, Giants 1

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Mets 2, Giants 1

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SAN FRANCISCO The New York Mets couldnt have blown more chances to break open Wednesday nights game if they were Olympic badminton players.They loaded the bases four times with two outs or less against Matt Cain and a sloppy Giants bullpen, yet strangely, pathetically, found themselves clinging to just a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning.But the Giants committed the greater sin. They didnt make the Mets pay.Hunter Pence was held hitless in his Giants debut and his teammates mustered only two other hits besides Buster Poseys solo home run in a 2-1 loss at AT&T Park.The Giants lost for the sixth time in seven games yet retained their one-game edge in the NL West courtesy of Arizona's sweep at Dodger Stadium. The Diamondbacks are now just 2 12 games back, though.Starting pitching reportIts rare to see Cain (10-4) fight himself on the mound and throw pitches all over the place. Its just as rare to see the bullpen break into activity in the third inning of a Cain start.It was that kind of night. Ruben Tejada homered on the second pitch of the game and Cain pitched through SIG alerts in each of the first three innings while stranding five runners.But Cain somehow kept the Mets from busting the game open. The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the third but Cain only allowed one run to score on a fielders choice.Cain struck out David Wright to end the threat, but not before nearly hitting him with a curveball -- flashback to the scary pitch a few years ago that struck Wrights helmet and sent him to the hospital in New York.The bullpen got active after Cain walked the first two batters in the third inning, but after a visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti, the right-hander struck out Jason Bay and got a strikeout-double play when Buster Posey threw out a runner at third base.Posey threw out another runner to get Cain out of the fifth inning. But the biggest defensive play was from center fielder Gregor Blanco, who laid out in spectacular fashion to take an RBI double away from Jordany Valdespin in the fourth.The catch was every bit as good as Blancos unforgettable grab that preserved Cains perfect game June 13.Bullpen reportGeorge Kontos threw a scoreless sixth inning but needed help in the seventh after the Mets loaded the bases on two walks and second baseman Ryan Theriots error on a potential double-play ball.Left-hander Javier Lopez entered and conveniently punched up another double-play grounder, and shortstop Brandon Crawford adeptly started the twin killing.Lopez has stranded 40 of 45 inherited runners this season.The Mets blew another chance to take command in the eighth, and it got ridiculous. Clay Hensley was all over the place as he loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter. But Josh Thole grounded into one of the oddest double plays youll ever see. First baseman Brett Pill threw home for the forceout at the plate, and Thole was ruled inside the baseline when catcher Buster Poseys throw glanced off his shoulder and bounced into right field.Hensley issued another walk to load the bases again, but Theriot atoned for his earlier error by making a diving stop and throw from his knees to retire Tejada and end the inning.Would you believe the Mets loaded them again in the ninth against Brad Penny? This time the Giants escaped when Penny snared Jason Bays line drive, threw to first base to double off the runner and roundhouse-punched the air.At the platePence was just 3 for 20 in his career against lefty Jonathon Niese, who threw a fire blanket on the right fielders enthusiastically received debut game.Niese threw a curveball that Pence popped up in foul ground, stranding two runners in the first inning. Pence reached in the fourth, but only while striking out on a wild pitch.Posey took Niese deep in the sixth inning to cut the Mets lead in half. It was just the 17th home run by a Giant in 52 games at AT&T Park this season; Arizonas Jason Kubel owns that many by himself at Chase Field.Pence couldnt follow up by putting another in the bleachers, though. He grounded out to end the inning.Angel Pagan, who missed two games after bruising his hand in a fit of frustration, lined out as a pinch hitter.Pence had one last chance in the ninth but struck out on a borderline outside pitch.In fieldSure, the Mets wasted chances. But the Giants also made the plays to end innings. Blancos catch was the best of them, but Theriots diving stop in the eighth and Pennys snare in the ninth were impressive, too.AttendanceThe Giants announced 42,188 paid on Jerry Garcias birthday. It was also Madison Bumgarners birthday. San Francisco legends, kindred spirits.Up nextThe Giants complete their disappointing, 10-game homestand and their four-game series with the Mets on Thursday afternoon. Left-hander Barry Zito (8-7, 3.89) opposes Mets right-hander Chris Young (2-5, 4.58).

Giants use big fifth, sixth innings to take down Cubs

Giants use big fifth, sixth innings to take down Cubs

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At Scottsdale, Arizona, Giants starter Matt Cain gave up two runs — one earned — and three hits over two innings.

New Giants closer Mark Melancon tossed a 1-2-3 third inning in his first outing. Cain threw 40 pitches and Justin Ruggiano had an RBI double in a three-run fifth.

Javier Baez went 2 for 3 with an RBI double.

Giants spring training Day 13: Cain goes two; Melancon has perfect debut

Giants spring training Day 13: Cain goes two; Melancon has perfect debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bruce Bochy planned to give most of his pitchers one-inning stints during the first weekend of spring ball, but Matt Cain stretched it out to 40 pitches on Saturday. 

“I’ve had enough days off the past couple of years,” Cain said, smiling.

In his first start of a crucial spring, Cain threw two innings. He was charged with three hits and two runs, just one of them earned. 

“He’s in a good place right now with his arm strength,” Bochy said. “His delivery is consistent. I’m glad he got a lot of work today, to be honest. It’s something he needs as much as anybody on this staff, is work. He’s going to get it.”

Ty Blach, Cain’s biggest competition for the fifth starter spot, gave up four hits and one earned in his two innings. Neither pitcher was hit particularly hard, and both suffered a bit from iffy defense in the early innings of an 8-6 win over the Cubs. 

The inning separating Cain and Blach was notable for other reasons. Mark Melancon made his Giants debut, getting two groundouts and a fly to right in a quick inning. Melancon received a nice ovation, and he noted the opponent — a Cubs team that helped guarantee the Giants would spend big on a closer — but he didn’t put any added importance on the outing. 

“It doesn’t matter what I do out there right now,” he said. 

Melancon’s new teammates might disagree. Spring or not, the Giants certainly enjoyed watching a closer breeze through his inning. Especially against the Cubs. 

“He’s a pro,” Bochy said. “He’s going to be out there working on stuff, his command and pitches. It was good for Buster (Posey) to catch him. It was a good day for him.”

NOTABLE: On his first swing of the spring, Posey threw his bat up against the visiting dugout. It can only go uphill from there … Bryan Morris had a scoreless debut, striking out one … Josh Osich ran into some trouble in the eighth and gave up a pair of runs, but Bochy appreciated the way he fought his way out of the frame … Former Giants prospect Chris Dominguez started for the Cubs at first base. He had a couple of hits ... If you're headed to Goodyear for tomorrow's game, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, Conor Gillaspie, Jimmy Rollins, Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker, Gorkys Hernandez and Trevor Brown will start behind Matt Moore. Also, if you're headed to Goodyear, I'm sorry. 

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez is limited to DH duty for now because of a sore throwing shoulder. Nuñez said the tightness popped up after some work in the weight room, but he’s not concerned at all. He said he would have played third base if Saturday’s game was a regular season contest. The Giants expect him in the field sometime next week. 

Nuñez also said it took five weeks after the season ended for his hamstring to get back to 100 percent, so apparently that injury was much worse than it first looked. Nuñez was out on the field before every NLDS game, trying to get clearance to return. He never quite got there. 

Will Smith (elbow) is just a day or two from throwing off flat ground, Bochy said. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants had hoped to have Johnny Cueto in camp this weekend, but he remains in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. Cueto is waiting for a visa for his ill father, Domingo, who will travel to Scottsdale with Johnny. 

LIGHTER SIDE: Brandon Crawford spent a couple of minutes learning some of Jeff Samardzija’s mound moves. The impersonation is pretty solid.