Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 14, Giants 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 14, Giants 2


SAN FRANCISCO Well, thats the last time theyll hold Frank Sinatra Night at AT&T Park.

The Washington Nationals flew the Giants to the moon, all right. The Nats treated Giants infielders like pinball paddles while collecting a series of hard, seeing-eye hits that deflected off gloves. It was enough to tilt even an unshakeable presence like Ryan Vogelsong, who was ushered out in the third inning.

So too was Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who drew a quick ejection while arguing a call at first base. Bochy was luckier than the sellout crowd, which had to watch as the ERA-wrecking Nationals set an AT&T Park record with 21 hits while romping to a 14-2 victory Monday night.

You could say the Nats are under the Giants skin, officially. Their lineup has been unstoppable in four victories over the Giants this season while outscoring them 38-14.

That hurts worse than a five-martini lunch. But hey, thats life.

Starting pitching report
Vogelsongs streak of completing at least six innings, which stretched back to his final outing of last season, was halted after 22 starts. His eight earned runs allowed doubled his previous season high.

His ERA flipped from an NL-best 2.27 to 2.72.

Red-hot Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI double, marking just the second run all season that Vogelsong had allowed in the first inning.

It got a lot worse in a seven-run third. Vogelsong (10-6) had his share of bad luck, though, after Adam LaRoche drew a bases-loaded, one-out walk. Michael Morse followed with an RBI single off third baseman Marco Scutaros backhanded attempt. Then Danny Espinosa drove in another run with a ground ball that second baseman Ryan Theriot kicked into right field.

Roger Bernadina followed with a chopper to third base and umpire Mike Estabrook ruled that he beat the bang-bang play. Replays appeared to show that Bernadina was out, but Bochy didnt need to see it. He double-timed it out of the dugout and mustve uttered his magic word right away to draw Estabrooks thumb.

Kurt Suzuki followed with a bases-clearing double to cap the scoring. Vogelsong struck out pitcher Gio Gonzalez for the second time in the inning and followed by giving up a hit to Steve Lombardozzi, ending his night.

Bullpen report
Custodial work did not suit Brad Penny. Danny Espinosa rocked him for a three-run home run as Penny allowed allowed six runs on seven hits in two innings.

Jose Mijares, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and George Kontos helped to advance the game to a merciful conclusion, though. And they ensured the Giants wouldnt take a beating for the ages.

The worst margin of defeat in the Giants San Francisco era is 16 runs, which has been accomplished three times most recently in 2005 during a 16-0 loss at Oakland.

At the plate
Brandon Crawford picked one heck of a time to hit his first home run of the season at AT&T Park. In his 162nd home at-bat of the season, he hit a pinch-hit shot that landed softly in the arcade to break up the Nationals shutout in the seventh inning.

Aside from that, Gonzalez was masterful.

Special demerit to Joaquin Arias for getting thrown out in a 14-0 game while trying to stretch a single just prior to Crawfords home run.

The few thousand remaining fans in the ninth inning cheered as Pablo Sandoval came off the bench as a pinch hitter his first appearance since coming off the disabled list. He fouled out to the third baseman.

In field
Scutaro had a tough night at third base, and many fans doubtless had to wonder why Sandoval didnt start on the day the Giants activated him from the DL.

But Scutaro was more victimized than anything as a series of grounders glanced off his glove or were just beyond his reach. The crowd offered mock applause when Scutaro made a nice play to his left in the seventh inning.

The Giants announced 42,050 paid. The fans had plenty of chances to practice their sarcastic standing ovation skills.

Up next
Bring your fire extinguishers. The Giants continue their three-game series with the Nationals at AT&T Park Tuesday night. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (12-7, 3.08) will try to disarm a club that has destroyed Giants pitching all season. Hell be opposed by right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (9-6, 2.35), who became the NLs ERA leader after his teammates hummed My Way against Vogelsong.

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.