EXTRA BAGGS: Dominguez inspires double-takes

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EXTRA BAGGS: Dominguez inspires double-takes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Chris Dominguez turns heads wherever hegoes. But not necessarily because people recognize him.

Oh, yeah, I get that a lot, said Dominguez, asked ifanyone ever told him he bears a resemblance to Albert Pujols.

Dominguez has the same goatee and hes a sturdy, 6-foot-4.Even some of his actions at first base are reminiscent of the three-time NLMVP.

But hes balding, Dominguez said with a laugh. Im not.

Pujols owns a couple of Gold Gloves, too. But even he probablywouldnt have made the two plays that Dominguez did on Saturday, both timesranging far into foul ground while making over-the-shoulder catches.

Oh, it was fun. It was great, said Dominguez, a thirdbaseman, who started at first base at the last minute because Aubrey Huffsback stiffened up. I can play a little outfield, too.

BAGGARLY: Huff scratched with back tightness

Dominguez definitely looked unsure of himself earlier in thegame, when he didnt cover the bag on a ground ball to second baseman RyanTheriot. Tim Lincecum sprinted off the mound and was able to receive the throwto record the out.

But Dominguez was beaming after the first catch in foulground.

Hes smiling when he turns around, Lincecum said. Youcant help but smile with him. To be able to share that, its awesome.

Dominguez was smiling after the second catch, too.

I cant believe it happened again, he said. Once isenough.

Dominguez, 25, earned a quick promotion out of Single-A SanJose last season but wasnt able to make the same statement at Double-ARichmond, where he hit .244 with a career low .403 slugging percentage. He andrecent draftee Ricky Oropesa probably have the most raw power in the system,though. Dominguez also has the strongest arm of any infielder in the organization.

If he can cut down his strikeouts, he could be a pretty big power threat off the bench someday soon. Who knows? Maybe the Pujols resemblance would even strike some fear in opposing pitchers.

I just want to learn as much as I can here, and work onbeing more consistent, he said.

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Dominguez was one of three hitters who stood in against RyanVogelsong, who threw live batting practice for the first time this spring.

He wasnt putting it where he wanted, but the stuff wasgood, Dominguez said.

Vogelsong said his strained lower back did not limit himwhile throwing 45 pitches.

At this point as long as I dont feel anything, Im happyabout it, said Vogelsong, who injured himself while doing squats in the firstweek of February. I didnt think about my back at all. It feels normal to me.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Vogelsong had good stuff,but not the greatest command. One more session vs. hitters and then Vogelsongwill be cleared to participate in a Cactus League game.

As Ive mentioned, the Giants could always start Vogelsongon the DL, since they wont need a fifth starter until the ninth game of theseason April 15. I guarantee you that Vogelsong wants no part of that, though.

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Pablo Sandoval took some ugly hacks in his first at-bat, butin the sixth inning, he cranked his second homer of the spring. It was a deepshot down the right field line. Ryan Theriot, who hasnt stood out with the bator the glove thus far, also hit a home run. It was his first of the spring.Angel Pagan went deep for the first time as a Giant, too.

The Giants have hit 21 home runs in 17 games, which leadsall NL clubs.

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Santiago Casillas game-ending strikeout pitch was 96 mph.Hes ready.

Sergio Romo is not, but he insisted that his right elbowjust needed a little break. He didnt expect to be sidelined for more than aday or two.

Weve come to expect a little hiccup from Romo every spring.His devastating slider is a pitch that taks its toll on his elbow. Its thereason his innings are monitored so carefully.

Its also the reason that Casilla or Jeremy Affeldt, notRomo, would be considered the primary closer candidates whenever Brian Wilsonis not available.

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Its going to be touch-and-go around here on Sunday. The rain thatspelted the Bay Area most of the week is tailing down into the desert. Assumingthey play, itll be Madison Bumgarner against the Padres Edinson Volquez atScottsdale.

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”

Instant Analysis: Giants bats silenced, losing streak now at four games

Instant Analysis: Giants bats silenced, losing streak now at four games

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The return to AT&T Park was a huge boost to Matt Cain, who has wild home-road splits this season, but it did predictable things to an already-limp Giants offense. 

The Giants entered the night as the lowest-scoring team in the National League and they got blanked 2-0 by Jaime Garcia and the Braves. Garcia out-dueled Cain and provided the only offense of the night, as well. The Giants have dropped five of six.

Here are five things to know from AT&T Park, where they keep having Star Wars Night but they’ve never once celebrated Super Troopers … 

--- Cain entered the seventh with a 0.94 ERA at home this season, but the opposing pitcher busted him. With one on and two outs, the Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, a career .145 hitter. He bounced a single into shallow left and it looked like Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw home hit the runner. That allowed Swanson to race home for a 2-0 lead. 

--- Cain’s final line: seven innings, one earned run, one walk, three strikeouts. Yep, that’s a Caining.

--- Justin Ruggiano is here for the opportunity he was given in the sixth. Ruggiano has always crushed lefties, and Bruce Bochy put him behind Buster Posey on Friday night. The Braves intentionally walked Posey to load the bases for Ruggiano, who grounded out to third. Even the platoon splits are failing the Giants. 

--- If you need a little perspective on Christian Arroyo’s struggles, look across the field. Swanson, the former No. 1 overall pick, is batting .198. The shortstop slashed .302/.361/.442 as a rookie but his numbers are way down across the board, and he’s nearly two years older than Arroyo. These things take time. Having said that, Arroyo’s hole is pretty deep. He’s hitless in his last 21 at-bats after an 0 for 3.

--- There were three no-pitch intentional walks. I hope you used the extra ninety seconds wisely.