EXTRA BAGGS: Giants, A's find common ground in turf war, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Giants, A's find common ground in turf war, etc.

ST. LOUIS The Giants and As are locked in a turf warover the South Bay. But if one of the clubs needs to borrow 3,000 pounds ofbagged dirt, thats a perfectly reasonable request.

Giants head groundskeeper Greg Elliott found himself with ascarcity of Turface, the highly absorbent, calcined clay that major leagueteams spread over the infield. He went through his entire supply after Mondaynights freakish rainstorm turned the field at AT&T Park into theOkefenokee during the Giants surreal, ninth-inning clinching celebration.

He and his crew dumped out four pallets of the stuff morethan 8,000 pounds.

We had enough on hand, I thought, said Elliott, as theGiants worked out on the gleaming field Tuesday afternoon. I had to call a fewof my sources this morning. I snuck over across the bay and borrowed some fromour friends over there. I dont know if I should be telling you that, though.

The As let the Giants borrow 60 more bags, weighing in at3,000 pounds. After working all day on the field, Elliott and his crew had itlooking as perfectly manicured as ever in time for the Detroit Tigers 4 p.m.workout Tuesday.

When a drainage system stopped working, they used specialrakes to disperse water, aerated the field with nail boards, and then there wasjust one more thing to do.

I watered it a little today, Elliott said.

Of course he did.

Elliott has seen his share of crazy weather hit ballparksover the years. A graduate of the sports and commercial turfgrass program atMichigan State, he worked as head groundskeeper for the Lake County Captains --the Cleveland Indians affiliate in the Low-A South Atlantic League.

He has seen a few tarp monsters, too. And althoughwe dont see many of those fierce Midwestern storms here in San Francisco, Elliottalways offers new members of his crew the same advice.

When youre dragging the tarp, dont tie it around yourwrist, Elliott said. Thats the worst thing you can do, because youll bealong for the ride. You just want to grab it so if you get in trouble, you canlet go.

Elliott said Monday nights sudden and strong rainfall wasntclose to the worst hes seen. But he felt a little bit bad that hed onlywarned plate umpire Gary Darling that there was a chance for a few showers.

By the time the rain arrived, there was little anyone coulddo, except maybe find a female giraffe to pair with Brandon Belt.

It was kind of scary, Elliott said. Weve talked with theumpires in the past about not waiting till the last minute (to suspend play).Then youve got the teams coming off the field and were the ones expected togo out there in the thunder and the lightning. There just needs to be a lot ofcommunication.

There will be many World Series comparisons made between Jim Leyland andBruce Bochy, who rank first and third respectively on the career victory list amongactive managers.

Heres one thing the two skippers have in common: They areamong the four men who managed Barry Bonds. (Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou are theothers, of course.)

Leyland and Bonds had some memorable, camera-caught blowupsover their years together with the Pirates. Leyland was asked how he managessuperstars, given his experience with Bonds and some of the big names likeMiguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on his current roster.

Well, to be honest with you, Ive found over my career thatwhether a guy is making 60,000 or 6 million or 16 million, if he was a goodguy, he was a good guy, Leyland said. If he was a jerk, he was a jerk. Ivegot good guys. My superstars are good guys, and so are my other guys who arenot superstars. Theyre good guys.

Ive believed that all my life. The economics have nothingto do with it. The superstar status has nothing to do with it. If a guy is agood guy, hes a good guy. If hes a jerk, hes a jerk. Fortunately, I donthave any jerks.

Speaking of Barry Bonds, where has he been during thisplayoff run?

The National Anthem singer is someone named Philip Phillips.I joked on Twitter that Humbert Humbert and Sirhan Sirhan werent available.

Clever readers chimed in with better, more applicablereferences: Mister Mister and Duran Duran, among them.

Other readers informed me that Phillips hails from Leesburg,Ga. making him the second most famous native son from that little town.

I wonder if Buster Posey is an American Idol fan.

There are nine Venezuelan players on both rosters, which isa record for a World Series. Its a point of pride among Pablo Sandoval, MarcoScutaro, Omar Infante and others.

There will be a 10th Venezuelan player here forthe World Series, too. Former Giants shortstop, perennial Gold Glove winner andrecent retiree Omar Vizquel told the San Jose Mercury News that he is hopping aflight to San Francisco to be a spectator for a major league game for the firsttime. He wasnt sure how hed get tickets, and didnt want to bother theplayers.

But when the Giants found out Vizquel was coming, they pledged to takecare of him. And if hes announced during the game, expect the ovation of hislife. They still adore him here, even though he never played for a winningGiants team.

Tigers Game 2 starter Doug Fister is from Merced and grew upa huge fan of the Will Clark-era Giants, so just stepping on the mound atAT&T Park will be a thrill in itself, World Series aside.

Fister told me he threw three simulated innings during aworkout day against prospects from instructional league. Some of his teammatesstood in against him, too.Pitchers also went through fielding drills.

The Tigers definitely were more proactive about stayingsharp during their five-day layoff. They learned from 2006, when they had asix-day wait to face the St. Louis Cardinals and got steamrolled in five games.Youll recall the Tigers pitchers fielded like their shoelaces were tiedtogether the entire time.

So you'd better believe the spring training PFPs were a requirement this timearound.

Fielder said he didnt mind the rest, seeing it as anadvantage after a long season and two playoff rounds. Eight months ofbaseball? I dont think five days will make a difference.

Fielder and Cabrera have a special handshake that fans inDetroit are trying to master, but its got a lot of moving parts andcomplicated sequences.

It doesnt have a name, Fielder said. But its definitelyawkward when I see a grown man trying to do it on the street. Its borderlineweird.

Heres how you know Leyland gets along with his stars: They worryabout his chain-smoking.

I have gotten him some of those electronic cigarettes,Fielder said. Oh, he crushes them.

What did Giants third base coach Tim Flannery think aboutsending Buster Posey to score from first base on a broken-bat hit in Game 7?Could he have ever envisioned that in spring training, when everyone wastreating Poseys ankle like a wineglass?

It makes me think theres something angelic about the wholething, Flannery said, smiling.

The Cardinals Lance Berkman spent most of the year on thedisabled list, which makes sense. Its hard to play the game when your foot islodged in your mouth.

Berkman didnt mind holding court all throughout theplayoffs and offering his opinions on various subjects, even in the momentsafter the Cardinals were eliminated. He questioned whether Hunter Pencestriple-hit was an illegal act, even though baseballs official rules make itclear that a broken bat can make contact with a ball more than once in fairterritory provided it wasnt done intentionally.
RELATED: Pence's triple-hit sparks rules debate
The Giants were more amused at Berkmans comments thananything.

Its pretty easy to speculate when youre not in the game,Ryan Theriot said.

The Giants Friday Night Lights pregame dugout huddleshave gotten dangerous at times.

Its constantly evolving, Theriot said. Theres differentthings thrown around every time. Someone is firing gum or seeds. I got hit inthe head with a coffee creamer the other day. Hey, better than to get smoked byone of those Gatorade bottles.

Turns out when Hunter Pence gave the first of these fierysermons prior to Game 3 in Cincinnati, there was a moment of silence.

You weren't really sure how everyone would react, left-hander Javier Lopez said.

Marco Scutaro picked it up from there, and got the rest ofthe room in a lather.

I imagined a good, John Hughes-style slow clap from Scutaro.But Lopez said thats not how it went down.

No, I dont remember a slow clap, Lopez said, smiling.

Pence said Scutaro has done a fair amount of motivational speaking, too, and insisted that Im getting way, way too much credit forsomething everybody said. Everybody had to buy in.

Pence described his speeches as clichs that I try to twista little bit.

Hey, sounds like sportswriting!

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

SAN FRANCISCO — The momentum generated by Christian Arroyo and Michael Morse late Wednesday night lasted just a few hours. By the end of this four-game series, the Giants were left with a harsh reality: Even with two injections of new blood, they are not hitting. 

Arroyo drove in another run Thursday, but that was it for a lineup that couldn’t support Matt Moore’s effort. The bullpen, which had kept Bruce Bochy’s guys in close games all series, finally broke in the 10th. The Dodgers walked away with a 5-1 win and a split of a series that was rather uninspiring for both sides. 

After scoring 10 runs on the last road trip, the Giants scored just eight during the four games against the Dodgers. Three of those RBI came from Arroyo, called up Monday. A fourth came from Morse, called up Wednesday.

“We’ve got to get this offense going,” Bochy said. “It’s a better offense than what we’re doing right now. You need to find a way to put a few runs on the board. We had our chances, we just couldn’t find ways to get the big hit.”

With Denard Span out for at least another week, Bochy moved Hunter Pence to the top of the lineup. His temporary No. 3 hitter against lefties, Eduardo Nuñez, has one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Buster Posey, the cleanup hitter, is batting .357, but he has driven in just three runs this month. With two on and one out in the eighth, he bounced into a double play. The production closer to the bottom of the order has been nonexistent, leading to constant shuffling that has moved Nuñez and Belt to left at times. Bochy said the staff will continue to search of a lineup that works. 

“You talk about it and do thing to adjust, and it will get better, but right now we’ve got some guys who aren’t swinging the bat well, to be honest,” he said. “You look at the order and we don’t have a lot of guys swinging well.”

The list does not include Arroyo, the rookie who will eventually have to deal with adjustments from pitchers. It doesn’t appear that’ll be a problem. Arroyo has been making adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He did so against Sergio Romo for his first career homer and said he learned about the depth of Julio Urias’ curveball during their first two battles Thursday. In the sixth, the 21-year-old Arroyo drove in the game-tying run against the 20-year-old Urias. The lefty had walked Posey to face Arroyo, who singled up the middle. 

“He handles himself so well,” Bochy said. “They walked Buster and he smokes the ball. This kid has shown he’s not in awe. The upper deck, the bright lights, he comes to play.”

Arroyo’s effort briefly backed Moore, who was sharp in seven innings. Moore struck out eight, six of them looking, but he didn’t get much help and the bullpen fell apart in the 10th with a series of walks.

Bochy challenged his starters on Saturday at Coors Field and they responded with a strong series back home. The bullpen was tested during the first week but — Thursday’s result aside — it has settled down. The Giants are not as worried about their pitching as they were as they flew back from Denver. They know, however, that this team is going nowhere if two runs per game continues to be the nightly output. 

“We’ll tweak it again,” Bochy said of his lineup. “We'll see if we can get this thing right.”

Instant Replay: Moore tosses gem, but Giants lose to Dodgers in extras

Instant Replay: Moore tosses gem, but Giants lose to Dodgers in extras


SAN FRANCISCO — Quietly over the past couple of weeks, Bruce Bochy’s bullpen had started to settle. Bochy praised the group before Thursday’s game, noting that roles were being defined by pitchers who entered the series finale with the Dodgers with a 0.94 collective ERA this season. That changed in the 10th inning Thursday.

Three relievers combined to give up four runs on four walks and three singles. The implosion ended with a 5-1 loss to the Dodgers and a split of this four-game series. 

For most of the game, this was a day when youth shined. Corey Seager celebrated his 23rd birthday with a solo homer in the first on a two-strike pitch from Matt Moore that caught the heart of the plate. The Giants will be dealing with Seager for years, and if all goes according to plan, there will be years of Julio Urias vs. Christian Arroyo battles, too. 

The 21-year-old third baseman won the first matchup, lining a single to center. Arroyo flew out in his second at-bat against the 20-year-old Urias, but they faced off a third time in a big spot. Brandon Belt drew a one-out walk in the sixth and went to third when a pickoff throw skipped down the line. After an intentional walk of Buster Posey, Arroyo lined another one back up the middle. Urias stuck his glove up but it ticked off and into center for a game-tying single. 

Arroyo ended the young lefty’s day. Moore was done after seven sparkling innings. He struck out eight, six of them looking. 

The game went to extras, and Cory Gearrin walked pinch-hitter Adrian Gonzalez to lead off the 10th. Chase Utley was called up to bunt but he couldn’t get it down. Instead, he hit an infield single off Steven Okert that stayed true to the third-base line. After a walk of Yasmani Grandal, the third straight pinch-hitter, Andrew Toles lined a single to center to give the Dodgers a lead and the wheels soon came off. 

Utley alertly tagged up and scored on a pop-up to foul territory. Justin Turner’s single extended the lead to three and Hunter Strickland’s four-pitch walk of Chris Taylor pushed another across. 

Starting pitching report: Moore gave up 19 hits and 11 earned runs in his two previous starts, but the Dodgers had just two hits, the Seager homer and a Chris Taylor single. Taylor reached third with one out, but Moore got Scott Van Slyke and Cody Bellinger to go down looking. 

Bullpen report: Mark Melancon came on in a non-save situation for a second straight day and pitched a scoreless ninth. 

At the plate: Buster Posey’s hitting streak ended at 12 games. He twice bounced into double plays.

In the field: Posey chased a high pop-up down the right field line in the fourth, but he was going to come up short. Kelby Tomlinson came out of nowhere with the helping hand, making a running catch near the visiting bullpen. Posey smiled and shook his head as Tomlinson whipped the ball back to the infield. 

Attendance: The Giants said they sold out a 500th consecutive game.

Up next: The Giants have a three-city road trip coming up, so it’s time to take advantage of a weekend at home against the Padres. Jeff Samardzija and Luis Perdomo get the opener.