Baggs' Instant Replay: Reds embarrass lifeless Giants


Baggs' Instant Replay: Reds embarrass lifeless Giants


SAN FRANCISCO The Giants hoped this wouldnt happen. They feared it might.

Fear is prevailing in this NL Division Series.

A heretofore sturdy and stalwart rotation wobbled into October, and the Cincinnati Reds are flipping them over like fiddler crabs.

Two games and maybe a season in the books at AT&T Park and the Giants are still waiting for a starting pitcher to record an out in the sixth inning. One night after Matt Cain gave up two damaging home runs, Madison Bumgarner fell to the Reds rat-a-tat approach, and Dusty Bakers patient hitters pounded near everyone else to grab a 9-0 victory and a 2-0 edge in this rapidly shrinking NL Division Series.

The Giants are tasked with trying to become the first team in Division Series history to rally back to win from a 2-0 deficit. Others have tried; all 21 of those clubs have failed.

To play another baseball game again at Third and King this year, the Giants must pull off a three-game sweep at Cincinnati something no team has done to the Reds this season. In fact, the Reds havent lost three consecutive home games all year.

And the Giants havent swept three in Porkopolis since April 5-7, 1999, when the Reds still played at the concrete and AstroTurf wonder known as Riverfront Stadium.

If that all sounds dispiriting well we havent dwelt into Game 2 yet:

Bronson Arroyo didnt allow a runner into scoring position while one-hitting the Giants over seven innings. And two refreshingly scoreless relief innings from Tim Lincecum served as a mere temporary tourniquet, as the Reds crushed Jose Mijares and Guillermo Mota in a five-run eighth inning while outhitting the Giants 13-2.

The tone was off from the start, though. Bumgarner and Cain combined to give up seven runs over just 9 13 innings in the first two games of this series. That might have worked a time or two in the 2002 postseason, but Barry Bonds isnt coming back 'til the statue unveiling and Jeff Kent is giving four-fingered handshakes somewhere in the Philippines.

The Giants pitched their way to a World Series title in 2010. Its up to Ryan Vogelsong, Tuesdays Game 3 starter, to reestablish the paradigm before the factory closes up shop for the winter.

Starting pitching report
The Giants had every reason to believe that Bumgarner would be the sand in the Reds lobby ashtray. He was 10-3 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 15 home starts and one of those was a one-hit shutout against the Reds in June.

Bumgarner had a history of slow breathing in the postseason, too. He won Game 4 of the 2010 World Series just a few months after his 21st birthday.

But he could not reprise that Halloween night performance.

Its been a series of tricks for Bumgarner, who struggled to a 5.89 ERA over his last seven starts and wasnt much better while allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk in 4 13 innings Sunday night.

Ryan Ludwick, who had been 1 for 16 in his career against Bumgarner, put the Reds on the board with a leadoff home run in the second inning. Then the Reds collected four singles in a five-batter span in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead.

Joey Votto and Ludwick led off by lining fastballs to the outfield turf, and after a foul pop, Scott Rolen served a first-pitch changeup to right field. Hunter Pence threw home and the throw wasnt cut off, nor was it in time to prevent Votto from scoring. Rolen advanced to second base on the throw, which the Reds used to their advantage when Ryan Hanigan grounded a first-pitch slider up the middle and past second baseman Marco Scutaros diving attempt for a two-run single.

Bumgarner kept the fourth from getting all Twinsian, but when Zack Cozart and Votto slapped one-out singles in the fifth, manager Bruce Bochy relieved his young left-hander of the baseball.

Bullpen report
Bochy pledged that Lincecum would be available in the bullpen, but at first blush it appeared there was emergency glass in front of the two-time Cy Young Award winner. Guillermo Mota was the first to warm up, then George Kontos entered the game for Bumgarner despite throwing two scoreless innings (24 pitches) a night earlier.

Kontos contributed again, pumping his fist and roaring when he got Ludwick to hit into a doube play to escape Bumgarners jam in the fifth.

But then Lincecum took off his hooded sweatshirt as the Giants batted in the bottom of the inning, and cheers of recognition spread from the left field stands as he walked to the bullpen mound.

Perhaps Lincecum already had gotten loose in the underground batting cage. Or perhaps he really does have a rubber arm. He made only three or four warmup tosses alongside Jose Mijares, and when the inning ended, there were a few moments of confusion as Lincecum headed back to the dugout. But Bochy bid him enter.

Lincecum could have sucked the remainder of the life out of 24 Willie Mays Plaza. Instead, he got a fly out to the warning track from Jay Bruce and then spun a couple nice curveballs to end a 1-2-3 sixth inning with a crowd-stoking strikeout of Hanigan.

Lincecum worked around Brandon Phillips two-out double while throwing a scoreless seventh inning, too finishing up the third relief appearance of his career, and the second in the postseason.

That wasnt the only oddity about Lincecums night. He threw from the stretch the entire time. And of course, he was throwing to Buster Posey, whom he hasnt worked with often since the All-Star break.

The results were what Bochy and the crowd needed, though. He struck out two, and despite a few wild misses, he did not walk a batter.

After that you dont want to know. Drew Stubbs hit a triple. There was a lot of running around by people in red helmets.

At the plate
The Giants didnt advance a runner into scoring position until the eighth inning, and that was due to fielders indifference.


Arroyo found a groove in his scissor-kick delivery and the Giants couldnt force him out of it. The durable right-hander snipped at the corners while taking a perfect game into the fifth inning, he didnt allow a runner into scoring position through the seventh, and threw just two of his first 86 pitches from the stretch.

Brandon Belt broke up the perfect game with a line-drive single to right field with two outs in the fifth. It was the first ball to leave the infield since the first inning, when the Giants hit three fly outs.

Arroyo was supposed to be the weak link in a Reds rotation that featured 19-game winner Johnny Cueto and Giants nemesis Mat Latos. Instead, Arroyos outing was reminiscent of his June 26 start against the Milwaukee Brewers, when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.

The Giants table setters simply havent done enough in this series. Angel Pagan and Scutaro, who had a 20-game hitting streak to end the regular season, are 1 for 17 in the series.

Pagan always touts the importance of scoring early. So its worth noting that the Giants havent led in this series and have trailed at the conclusion of 15 of 18 innings.

In field
Shortstop Brandon Crawford made a nifty stop on Ludwicks grounder to start a double play that charged up the crowd. It turned out to be a sugar high, though. Arroyo kept on dealing and plate umpire Brian ONora was more border friendly than a scrapbooking class.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval and backup left fielder Xavier Nady both made nice plays behind Sergio Romo in the ninth, while a few thousand fans were flagging down cabs.

The Giants announced 43,505 paid including the only World Series MVP in the franchises five-plus decades in San Francisco. Were betting first-pitch thrower Edgar Renteria got his field-level seat comped. Drinks, too. In fact, the Giants couldve thrown in a uniform and a contract.

Up next
The NL Division Series shifts to Cincinnati for Game 3 on Tuesday. Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37) takes the mound for the Giants. He will oppose Homer Bailey (13-10, 3.68), who tossed a no-hitter in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28.

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week. 

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of a revamped bullpen, is leaning toward having Tommy John surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night. 

Bochy said surgery was the recommendation of both doctors who examined Smith's elbow this week. Smith will talk to his agent before coming to a final decision on Friday. The procedure would keep Smith out the entire 2017 season and likely would cause him to miss the start of the 2018 season.

Smith, 27, missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. A second round of diagnostics revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. 

"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."

Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants, getting setup work in the seventh and eighth innings. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on young lefties Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford (who is currently serving a 50-game suspension) and catcher Andrew Susac (who is currently injured). After a shaky start, he finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

The Giants have for the most part avoided Tommy John for 40-man roster pitchers. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Josh Osich have all had it during their time in the organization, along with outfielder Mac Williamson. Prospect Ian Gardeck is currently recovering from Tommy John. The last Giants pitcher who was likely headed for the roster before having Tommy John was left-hander Eric Surkamp. He had surgery in 2012.

The timetable is different for every pitcher, but the general consensus is that the procedure sidelines a pitcher for at least a year, and usually closer to 16 months. Matt Moore, Thursday night’s starter, had Tommy John on April 23, 2014. He did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then, he was under restrictions. 

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.