Bumgarner throws gem, Giants win 7-0

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Bumgarner throws gem, Giants win 7-0

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner reached an important milestone in his final start of the season, but the Giants' left-hander was more impressed by teammate Conor Gillaspie's first career home run.The rookie's stumbling, falling down inside-the-park home run in the seventh inning capped a stellar night for the defending World Series champs, who are trying to salvage what they can from this disappointing season."If somebody with his speed is able to run around, fall down and still make it, he must have hit it a long way," said Bumgarner after combining with two relievers on a three-hitter in San Francisco's 7-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night. "That's a good first home run story."Bumgarner has a pretty good tale of his own, finishing with a 13-13 record after starting the season 0-6. He won his final five starts at AT&T Park with a 0.54 ERA during that stretch.Against Colorado, Bumgarner was outstanding. He retired 18 of the final 19 batters he faced, did not walk anyone for the second straight start and finished with nine strikeouts.That gave him 191 strikeouts for the season and pushed Bumgarner over 200 innings pitched - a goal he set out for himself coming out of spring training."From last year and earlier this season you've seen the growth in this kid," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's got presence out there, he's got poise and he keeps coming at you."Brandon Belt homered into McCovey Cove while Brandon Crawford added two hits and an RBI for the Giants, who have won two straight following a four-game losing streak.That's little consolation for the defending World Series champs, who will still miss the postseason a year after claiming their first title in 54 years.Colorado only got one runner to third base and lost for the 11th time in 13 games to fall 22 games behind Arizona in the NL West."We did not pitch and when you don't pitch you can't win at this level," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Combine that with the fact that we got three hits ... maybe we're fortunate that we got beat only 7-0."Bochy juggled his lineup slightly, starting Gillaspie at third and moving Pablo Sandoval to first. It seemed to do the trick.Gillaspie singled and scored on Belt's homer in the fourth then stumbled his way around the bases in the seventh for his first career home run.The Giants rookie hit a deep fly ball into the gap in right center that sailed over the head of Colorado outfielder Ty Wiggington. Gillaspie raced around the bases and broke for home when Wiggington overthrew cutoff man Mark Ellis. He tripped after rounding third then had to hustle to beat the throw home from shortstop Tommy Field."I thought for sure I was going to get thrown out," Gillaspie said. "If I wouldn't have fallen I think I would have had it easy. But it worked out and it's pretty exciting."Belt hit his ninth homer, a two-run shot off Rockies starter Alex White, in the fourth. It was Belt's first splash hit and the 84th overall at the Giants waterfront ballpark.The only player younger than the 23-year-old Belt to reach the waters at ATA&T Park is Sandoval, who did it 12 days shy of his 23rd birthday. Giants hitters have done it a total of 60 times, 35 from home run king Barry Bonds.Belt later walked and scored on Crawford's triple in the sixth.That was all the support Bumgarner needed to secure San Francisco's seventh consecutive win over Colorado and 13th overall this season.Bumgarner, the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the World Series last season, allowed only two hits and pitched with runners on base in only two innings - the second and sixth. Each time, he worked out of trouble.Kevin Kouzmanoff doubled leading off the second and took third on Jordan Pacheco's single to right. Bumgarner (13-13) then struck out the next three hitters, including Wilin Rosario and Field who were both caught looking at a third strike.Ramon Ramirez pitched the eighth and former starter Barry Zito worked the ninth to complete the shutout.White (2-4) got off to a rough start, walking leadoff batter Andres Torres on six pitches then uncorking back-to-back wild pitches to advance Torres to third. Mike Fontenot followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.San Francisco put two runners on in the second and had a runner at second in the third but couldn't add on until Gillaspie singled in the fourth and Belt homered.Crawford's RBI triple was the second of the rookie's career. He later scored on a wild pitch, the fourth of the night thrown by Colorado pitchers.Notes: Tracy will bring back his entire coaching staff next season, including hitting coach Carney Lansford and pitching coach Bob Apodaca, both of whom have come under fire this year. ... Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd and slugger Jason Giambi held a lengthy meeting in the dugout two hours before the game discussing the future of the club and some of the players. ... LHP Drew Pomeranz makes his fourth career start for Colorado. Pomeranz (1-1) allowed two runs over 5 2-3 innings but left with a no-decision against the Giants on Sept. 17. ... LHP Eric Surkamp (2-1) pitches for San Francisco. ... Bill Neukom, who will retire as the Giants' controlling owner at the end of the year and be replaced by Larry Baer as chief executive officer, was on the field during batting practice. ... Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell and winger Ryan Clowe of the San Jose Sharks were among those in attendance.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.