Unless the Angels pull off a wild-card miracle, the great state of California is going to be shut out of the MLB playoffs for the first time since 1999.Thats a little bit sad given that its the state with the most big-league teams -- the Angels, As, Giants, Dodgers and Padres represent 16th of the games squads.It hasnt been a completely lost season for the Golden State, though, and here are five golden storylines that support that stance.1) The Giants sent three starting pitchers to the All-Star Game, as well as their colorful closer and their lone consistent offensive performer, Pablo Sandoval. Only Wilson and Sandoval got into the game, but both of them had a positive impact and helped the National League secure home-field advantage in the World Series. 2) The As are the subject of a movie that features perhaps the biggest star in Hollywood (Brad Pitt), an Academy Award winner (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and one of the hottest comedic properties on the planet (Jonah Hill). Moneyball had been met with largely positive reviews, which is more than you can say of the 2011 As season as a whole. 3) Outfielder Matt Kemp and starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, despite playing for a Dodgers team that made more headlines for the marital messiness atop the org chart than for what happened on the field, are frontrunners for the two most prestigious postseason honors. Even if Kemp falls short of winning the NL MVP and Kershaw is edged in the NL Cy Young voting, they at least brought some positive attention to a team that needs all it can get. 4) The Angels are the lone California team that entered play Monday with a shot at making the playoffs. Its a longshot, no doubt; theyre three back in the AL wild card race with three games to play. But at least theyre still playing meaningful games, and for a good long while they had a legitimate Cy Young candidate of their own in Jered Weaver.5) The Padres um the Padres well the Padres OK, busted. Four will have to do.Or do you have a Padres positive? Heath Bells sliding entrance to the All-Star Game? OK, thatll have to do.Got any more? The Golden State is hurting. Give it some love.
SAN FRANCISCO — As reporters approached Mark Melancon’s locker Monday afternoon, the closer looked up at a clubhouse clock and smiled.
“I guess it’s 3:30,” he said softly.
A year ago at this time, Giants relievers would have been out in left field jogging and playing catch. The routine was changed a week into the season, and players, coaches and management expressed confusion and frustration Monday about how that became the centerpiece of a FOX Sports article portraying the clubhouse as “boring” and a problem.
The piece, written by Ken Rosenthal and posted Monday morning, said Melancon “rubbed some teammates the wrong way early in the season by putting an end to the bullpen’s 3:30 p.m. stretching session before night games, a practice that the relievers began in 2012.”
Several players mocked the concept as they stretched Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy called it a non-story.
“It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds,” he said.
Melancon defended the move, saying it was made collectively by the revamped bullpen and staff. He said the Giants decided to be better about time management, noting that it did not make sense for the relievers to run and throw an hour before going back on the field with the rest of the team. The decision was made to instead focus on lifting, eating and doing other clubhouse work in the hours leading up to the 4:30 team stretch.
“Really it’s nothing — it’s kind of funny it’s been raised,” Melancon said. “I was brought in to be a leader here and take ownership of the bullpen. In conversations with guys and the coaching staff, we decided to change the stretch time. It was the first series of the year, and from a time management standpoint, it’s been good. I’m shocked, but if this is the reason we’re pointing out (for the team’s record), please bring it on.
“We’re talking about stretching. Stretching,” Melancon added, joking he felt like Allen Iverson.
The story also mentioned Melancon’s routine of spending the first six or seven innings in the clubhouse preparing to pitch. Melancon said he is usually in the bullpen by the fifth or sixth, and noted that that’s been the way of all closers he has worked under, from Mariano Rivera to Jonathan Papelbon.
“I don’t know anyone who has had a problem with (my routine),” he said.
His manager certainly doesn’t. Bochy said every closer he has managed did the same thing because they almost never pitch until the ninth. Of course, that’s where the real problem comes. Melancon has a 4.58 ERA and has blown four saves. He said that should have been the focus of any story about the Giants’ struggles.
“I understand if you lose this many games there’s got to be something to blame, and I’ll take this blame on,” he said. “I haven’t pitched well … There are a lot of things I can be better at with my performance on the field, and that’s first and foremost.”
The Giants expected a bit more on the mound, and Melancon knows it. He owns that part of this. But they have no complaints, sources said, about anything he has done off the field. Several teammates noted Monday that Melancon has also been pitching hurt for a team that’s hopelessly buried in the standings. Melancon also had team employees remodel a small room behind the dugout — adding new seats, a flat screen TV, and inspirational quotes — so relievers were more comfortable while waiting to pitch.
Those are small changes, with nothing to do with how the team has played. And given the way the bullpen pitched last year, any change probably should have been welcomed.
Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series opener at AT&T Park:
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Raimel Tapia (L) RF
6. Ian Desmond (R) LF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. German Marquez (R) P (5-3, 3.92 ERA)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (2-9, 4.74 ERA)