Baggs' Instant Replay: Rockies 6, Giants 5

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Rockies 6, Giants 5

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DENVER Many are wondering where struggling right-hander Ryan Vogelsong would stand in a playoff rotation, should the Giants hang on and clinch the NL West.But perhaps its time to question where Pablo Sandoval will fit in, too.Lest anyone forget, an out-of-shape Sandoval lost his job down the stretch in 2010. And he had a night to forget in the Giants 6-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Monday.Vogelsong struggled again while giving up four runs in five innings. But Sandovals careless error in the sixth led to two unearned runs that proved to make all the difference. And Sandoval was 0 for 5 at the plate, too, including a fly out to left field in the eighth that stranded the tying and go-ahead runners in scoring position.Buster Posey hit a two-run home run as part of a three-hit night. But the Giants, so good in the clutch since the All-Star break, were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.Starting pitching reportIt was more of the same for Vogelsong, who continued to pay for fastballs down the middle while allowing four runs in five innings.Just more than a month ago, Vogelsong was the NL ERA leader and consistently kept hitters off balance with his sinking, cutting, running fastball. Now that fastball has straightened out, and he isnt getting away with many mistakes.Tyler Colvin and Josh Rutledge both doubled off four-seamers to start the game, and Jordan Pacheco served another fastball up the middle for an RBI single as the Rockies jumped to a 2-0 lead.Vogelsong (12-8) even paid for a 1-2 fastball to .125-hitting pitcher Alex White, who slipped it over the left field fence for his first career home run. It was the first homer Vogelsong has allowed to an opposing pitcher, too.Vogelsong settled down and began to induce ground outs, but he left a slider over the plate to Ramon Hernandez that resulted in a ground-rule double to start the fourth inning. Oddly, Hernandez injured his hamstring as he broke out of the batters box; he needed to limp to second base with a trainer in tow before the Rockies could substitute pinch runner Wilin Rosario.Vogelsong threw just 73 pitches (52 strikes), but the Giants had to pinch-hit for him with two aboard and a 4-2 deficit in the sixth. It marked the sixth consecutive start that Vogelsong gave up at least three earned runs; he has just one quality start amid that run.Bullpen reportGiants manager Bruce Bochy tried to stay away from his frontline relievers and use new faces from his 13-man bullpen. The Rockies scored twice after Vogelsong left the game, but those were unearned runs against Dan Otero.At the plateHunter Pence hit a solo home run in the second inning, his 20th of the season, and the Giants manufactured a run in the sixth. Buster Posey singled, moved up on a wild pitch and advanced the rest of the way on a pair of ground outs.But the offense didnt get a real spark until the seventh, when Posey hit one of his patented, backspin home runs that kept carrying until it disappeared over the center field fence. Poseys 21st homer of the season, a two-run shot, cut the Rockies lead to 6-4. It was Poseys second consecutive day with a homer and it was also the 20th he hit as a catcher, a feat that hadnt been done by a Giants backstop in 42 years. Tom Haller (1966) and Dick Dietz (1970) were the only other Giants catchers to hit 20 home runs in a season during the clubs San Francisco era.It took until the eighth for the Giants to get their first hit with a runner in scoring position, though. They set up the chance when Brandon Crawford drew a one-out walk and pinch hitter Aubrey Huff lined a single. Angel Pagan followed with an RBI double into the left field corner that got the Giants within a run.But they went back to their un-clutch ways. With the tying and go-ahead runners in scoring position, Marco Scutaro grounded out to first base and Sandoval flied out to left field.The club was 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position; Sandoval had two of those empty trips as part of an utterly forgettable, 0-for-5 performance.In fieldThe Giants had their moments, not all of them good ones.Shortstop Brandon Crawford put on a clinic with a couple of tough, slowly hit balls to his backhand side that he deftly turned into outs for Vogelsong. Pagan made a tumbling catch in center field in the eighth, too. And Scutaro took a page from Crawford while spinning to execute a tag-and-throw double play in the seventh.But Sandovals error was damaging, and difference making. On a simple ground ball that he merely needed to bend over and pick up, Sandoval managed to fumble it. Wilin Rosario reached on the error to extend the sixth inning, which led to two unearned runs. Chris Nelson tripled off the wall in left field and Charlie Blackmon singled him home.The games strangest moment came in the second inning, when Colvin hit a line drive off Vogelsongs right foot that caromed to Posey. The catchers throw was wide and struck first base umpire Eric Cooper just below his navel. Colvin, expecting the ball to go into right field, made a motion toward second base as he ran through the bag before turning and walking back to first base. Brandon Belt alertly applied a tag, and although Cooper ruled the runner safe, the umpires conferred and reversed the call.Vogelsong was checked by trainers and remained in the game. Bochy rushed onto the field as well, but passed up his pitcher and made a beeline for Cooper to argue the initial call.AttendanceThe Rockies announced 25,817 paid on what they call Purple Mondays. Judging from the crowd participation, its a lighter shade than Orange Fridays.Up nextThe Giants continue their three-game series at Coors Field on Tuesday night. Itll be left-hander Madison Bumgarner (14-10, 3.15) looking to snap a three-start losing streak while squaring off against right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (2-4. 4.85).

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There is no way to really ramp up the intensity when an All-Star pitcher makes an appearance in minor league camp, so Johnny Cueto instead found a way to have a bit more fun. 

While getting his work in against A-ball hitters, Cueto had a prolonged, smile-filled battle with 19-year-old Jasrado Chisholm, one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. The sequence between Cueto and the shortstop from the Bahamas: 

  • Cueto just missed with a two-strike inside fastball, so he went right back to the same spot, freezing Chisholm, who smiled and nodded at Cueto, who laughed back. 
  • The next time up, Chisholm took two vicious hacks, trying to crank a homer onto Hayden Road. He missed both breaking balls by about a foot. 
  •  Before the third pitch, Cueto yelled something at Chisholm and smiled. “I was telling him to keep his eye on the ball,” Cueto said. “Because every time he was swinging, he was taking his eye off the ball.”
  •  The advice worked. Chisholm hung in on the third pitch, lining a single to left-center. Cueto laughed and pointed his glove at the teenager. He promptly picked him off of first base. “He probably doesn’t know I have a quick move,” he said. “I was having fun with a kid who wanted to actually hit against me.”

Nobody has more fun than Cueto, even on a sun-baked minor league field. He capped his day by standing in for an at-bat of his own, and he stood and watched as a young Diamondback struck him out.

The work on the mound was just what was needed: 7 innings, 85 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 0 runs. Cueto, who missed the opening weeks of camp, is ready for the season.

“I feel strong,” he said. “I feel really good."

Injured Michael Morse will stick with Giants, work way up from Triple-A

Injured Michael Morse will stick with Giants, work way up from Triple-A

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Michael Morse isn't ready to give up on his comeback. 

Morse, sidelined by a hamstring injury, said he will continue to rehab with the organization, with the plan of eventually going to Triple-A and working his way up to the big leagues. Morse hasn't played since getting hurt March 20 in Glendale. He was initially given a two-to-three week diagnosis, but because he wants to let the strain heal completely, he anticipates missing closer to a full month. 

Morse said he's on the same page with general manager Bobby Evans. He will get healthy at the minor league facility in Scottsdale.

"I'll then go to Triple-A and play games and figure it out from there," he said. "I'm going to get healthy and play some games and if that point the team is 20-0, I know I probably won't get called up. If they need me, that'd be great."

The Giants are hopeful it works out. Before getting hurt, Morse had three spring homers and was in position to make the opening day roster. Without Morse, the Giants are light on right-handed power options for the bench.