Defensive effort sets stage for Giants' bittersweet walk-off win

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Defensive effort sets stage for Giants' bittersweet walk-off win

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford was named the Giants 2012Opening Day shortstop because of his glove, not his bat. But it was the latterthat gave San Francisco a 3-2 walk-off win over the San Diego Padres Tuesday atAT&T Park.Crawford and his teammates had a bittersweet victory celebration, though,because it came at a price: The left hamstring of Pablo Sandoval. The Giantsthird baseman turned first baseman did the splits to field a relay throw fromCrawford to complete a difficult double play and is scheduled for an MRIWednesday, according to manager Bruce Bochy.Well know the extent of it, but hell be down a few days at least, Bochysaid. We just have to find out how bad it is tomorrow with the MRI. Hopefullywe get good news.Sandovals injury, which Bochy said was on the high part of his hamstring, came on one of two spectacular doubleplays the Giants turned to keep the game tied 2-2.After Sandoval teamed up with Crawford and Ryan Theriot for the inning-endingdouble play in the third, Angel Pagan made a diving catch in the eighth tostart another twin killing that saved the game.With Chase Headley representing the go-ahead run after a one-out single offSergio Romo, Carlos Quentin drove a ball deep into the left-centerfield gap.Pagan, who has had issues with bad jumps and routes earlier this season, immediatelybroke into a full sprint and came down with the ball as he crashed onto thegrass just in front of the warning track. With his momentum still pushing him towardthe outfield wall, an off-balance Pagan hit cutoff man Crawford, who completedthe double play with a relay throw to Brandon Belt at first that barely beat ahustling Headley.When he hit it I thought there was no shot, said Madison Bumgarner, whostruck out nine and allowed two runs in seven innings of work before becoming aspectator for Pagans grab. It saved the game.Bruce Bochy was equally complimentary, although he may have offended GregorBlanco and his perfect game catch in the process.Its hard to find a better catch than Pagans, Bochy said.That saved us. Ive said this so many times: Defense can win a ballgame foryou Its hard to see a better play in baseball than that, especially withwhat was on the line. Pagan did not hesitate when asked to compare the catch to some of the otherhighlight-reel plays hes made over his seven-year career.What can I say? It was one of the best plays of my career, Pagan said.Pagans play wouldve been an afterthought if the Giantsdidnt come away with the win. But Belt, Pagan and Crawford put together arally against Padres reliever Joe Thatcher that made the defensive plays allthe more important.Belt, only in the game because of Sandovals injury, worked a full-count walkto lead off the inning and advanced to second when Pagan poked a base hitthrough the left side of the infield. Crawford, originally asked to lay down asacrifice bunt, had his assignment change when both runners advanced on apassed ball. With the winning run 90 feet away, Crawford sent Belt home andAT&T Park into a frenzy with a sharp line-drive single back up the middle.Crawford had a double taken away Monday when umpire Jordan Baker ruled he nevertouched first and was later ejected for arguing that call in his next at-bat.Tuesday, first base coach Roberto Kelly pointed to first to make sure Crawfordtouched the bag to complete the walk-off win.After the game, Crawford wanted to talk more about the defensive effort thanhis clutch knock.They say hitting is contagious, but I think defense is too, he said. Crawfords hit ended the game, but it was his defense, along with the effortsof Theriot, Sandoval and Pagan that set the stage for the late theatrics.The Giants 3-2 win coupled with the Dodgers loss in St.Louis gives San Francisco a 2.5 game lead in the N.L. West. Don Mattinglyssquad makes its second visit of the season to AT&T Park for three gamesstarting on Friday, and they may be bringing a new face or two with them. Late reports Tuesday claim the Dodgers have acquired Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate from the Miami Marlins in exchange Nathan Eovaldi and an unknown minor leaguer. Sandoval made it clear that he holds out hope he canplay in that series.Well see whats going on tomorrow, but Im planning on playing, Sandovalsaid.

Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

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AP

Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It has been 30 years since Matt Williams broke into the big leagues with the Giants, and he has been back many times in recent seasons as an opposing player, coach and manager. When the Giants play their home opener on April 10, Williams will once again be affiliated with them, this time in a new role. 

Williams will join NBC Sports Bay Area this season as a studio analyst for the pre- and post-game shows, which are expanding to one hour. After spending most of the last two decades in various on and off-field roles for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Williams is coming full circle with the Giants. 

“It feels like that, doesn’t it?” he said. “I love coaching and managing, but I also enjoy talking about the game and experiencing the game from that angle, which is a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. You get to talk about the intricacies of the game.”

Williams knows it inside and out, and not just because he played 17 seasons for the Giants, Diamondbacks and Indians. He has coached first and third base for the Diamondbacks, most recently during the 2016 season. When the organization retooled the front office in the offseason, changes were made to the coaching staff. Williams has also had a stint as a manager, doing two years with the Washington Nationals. He went 179-145, winning the NL Manager of the Year Award in 2014, when the Giants knocked the Nationals out of the postseason in the NLDS. 

Williams is best known in San Francisco for 10 strong years on the field. He hit 378 career home runs, 247 of them with the Giants. Williams is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner and four-time Gold Glove winner, and he finished in the top five in the MVP voting in 1994 and 1999. While Williams was gone by the time a title drought was broken, he does have a ring to wear around the ballpark. He batted .275 with 16 homers for the champion Diamondbacks in 2001. 

Williams’ time in Arizona also included color commentary for their television and radio broadcasts, and he said he’s looking forward to working with former Giants players he has coached against, and fellow former coach Tim Flannery, who was an NL West rival in the late 1980s. 

“During the offseason, this is always one of my favorite cities to visit,” he said. “It’s home. I’ve been in the Bay Area practically my whole life. It’s a fantastic atmosphere in the ballpark with a great fan base, and the Giants’ recent success has been phenomenal.” 

The Giants plan on that success carrying over into the odd year, and one of the best infielders in franchise history will be along for the ride. 

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.