EXTRA BAGGS: Giants play matador, fluffy schedule ahead, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Giants play matador, fluffy schedule ahead, etc.

MIAMI -- It was obvious that the Giants were determined notto let Giancarlo Stanton beat them on Sunday.

I suppose thats a smart idea -- and a tad overdue -- considering he was 12 for 25with four home runs and five doubles in six games against them.

For the first time in the season series, Stanton was heldhitless against the Giants. Homerless too, obviously.

He tried, Matt Cain said, smirking. He sniffed the wall,didnt he?
RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- Giants 3, Marlins 2

Yes, he did. It sure sounded like the Timothy Leary home runstructure at Marlins Park would go all trippy when Stanton cracked a boomingfly ball to center field in the sixth. But it was hit more high than deep, andalthough center fielder Angel Pagan stutter-stepped a bit as the ball startedbanana cutting in the air, he was able to make the catch short of the warningtrack.

Banana cutting aside, it was clear the Giants had nointention of trying to slip anything past Stanton. Cain walked him in the fifthinning. Sergio Romo did the same in the eighth.

I definitely dont like to give a guy a free pass, Cainsaid. But hes been swinging so well. If youre keeping him in the park, itsusually pretty good.

Said Romo: "Youve got to respect what he can do on thefield. I went out with my best stuff. I fell behind. From there, Ill do mybest to get him, but tip your cap. He laid off some good pitches.

Romo didnt give in, and part of that means trusting therelievers behind you to get the next guy. Thats exactly what Javier Lopez andSantiago Casilla did while recording a strikeout apiece to escape the eighth with the one-run lead intact.

Its that belief in each other that makes a good bullpengreat. And the same is often true for a lineup.

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Other than bringing in Romo at the right time, this wasnt the best strategic performance from Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

The Giants really shouldnt have used an exaggerated infieldshift on Logan Morrison, whom nobody confuses with Ryan Howard or Barry Bonds.Morrison beat it with a bunt single that led to a run in the fifth inning.

And Bochy picked a far too obvious spot to try to squeeze inthe ninth. Pagan broke from third base on the first pitch to Joaquin Arias, thengot caught in a rundown when the Marlins pitched out. (Incidentally, replays appeared to show Pagan evadedthe tag of third baseman Hanley Ramirez and Pagan said he never felt anything swipe hisjersey. He didnt tag me, said Pagan, who was called out.)

The squeeze was a good play there, but only if the countgets to 2-0 or even 1-0 after the first pitchout. Usually Bochy is pretty cageyabout those. This time, the subterfuge was lacking and Marlins manager OzzieGuillen is no dummy.

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Bochy credited the Giants defense with one of its best gamesthis season.

Arias, who was playing so deep at third base that hemightve been standing in Biscayne Bay, made a terrific, charging,barehand-scoop and throw on a slow chopper to nip Stanton at first base in thesecond inning.

And Ryan Theriot made a great stop and jump throw on LoganMorrison to save two runs in the sixth.

Cain enjoyed watching Theriot make that play, as well astrying to trip himself on ground balls hit to him.

Its amazing how it's only taken Arias a couple games thisspring and during the season to begin to look comfortable at third base. In aspan of 17 starts, hes gone from marginal to solidly above average, borderingon exceptional. Its to the point where its fair to wonder if the Giantsdefense will receive a downgrade when Pablo Sandoval comes back.

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Melky Cabrera's 73 hits are the second most through 48 games in the Giants SanFrancisco era, and here's the best part about digging up that stat:

It makes you appreciate the greatness of Willie Mays all themore.
BAGGARLY: Cabrera amazes, outhits his Giants teammates in pivotal win

Cabrera, as incredible as hes been, isnt even close towhat Mays accomplished through 48 games in 1958. The Say Hey Kid had 84 hits through that many games in the franchise's first season on the West Coast.

I told Bochy of Mays' total and his eyes got wide.

Wow. Thats almost two hits a game, Bochy said.

And Mays wasnt even a leadoff hitter. He had a .424 averageat that time, and finished the year at .347 with 208 hits.

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After seeing the Marlins seven times, heres my take: IfHanley Ramirez were the player he was a couple years ago, theyd be one of thebest teams in the NL. Instead, theyll do well to contend into September.There just aren't enough sticks in that lineup. The lower third of the order isworse than what the Giants throw out there.

And Hanley is just awful. Hes taking so many called thirdstrikes and not hitting anything with authority. That big spring was a mirage.

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The Giants are entering a fluffy part of the schedule.Theyll play 12 of the next 15 at home, and 10 of those games will come againstthe Cubs, Padres and Astros. (Although Houston is more dangerousthan you might think.)

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have a four-game home series withMilwaukee and then hit the road for a 10-game trip.

Bochy said he wasnt paying any mind to the schedule. He wasnt evenaware that the Giants deficit in the NL West was 7.5 games entering Sunday.

Thats a mistake and it can come back to bite you, saidBochy, who doesnt want his players to take anyone lightly. You can drop yourguard. You show up to play and it shouldnt have anything to do with the teamyoure playing. Thats the last thing I ever look at.

Its vital for the Giants to get well and win athome, regardless of the opponent. The Dodgers entered Sunday 20-5 at DodgerStadium. But the Giants are just 12-10 at AT&T Park, a venue that should bea perfect fit for the way they plan to win games.

If the Giants are winning at home the way they should, a 4-3road trip is worthy of fireworks. Instead, its just mildly satisfying.

Bochy evaluates Arroyo's slump, does not rule out sending him down

Bochy evaluates Arroyo's slump, does not rule out sending him down

CHICAGO — Bruce Bochy planned to give Christian Arroyo the day off Thursday as more of a mental break than a physical one. Eduardo Nuñez’s hamstring had other ideas. 

Nuñez thought he was fine Wednesday, that he just had a cramp, but he felt continued tightness in his left hamstring when he went back to the team hotel and he was scratched from the lineup late Thursday morning. Arroyo is back at third, hitting eighth. He’s hitless in his last 15 at-bats and his average has dipped to .196. 

“I brought him in and talked to him,” Bochy said. “He knew the situation. He’s a tough kid and he wants to play and fight through this skid. He’s handling it well, he’s still playing good defense. I really like the way he’s handling it.”

Bochy went into scout mode when talking about Arroyo, saying he makes several evaluations when a player is slumping. He watches the way Arroyo takes the field, and he said the joy and swagger is still there. He watches the glove, and that hasn’t been an issue, no matter what the numbers at the plate are.

“It’s easy to play with zest and energy when you’re doing well,” Bochy said. “You watch when they have a tough day, an 0-for-4, and how he carries himself. Christian is doing a good job of that.”

Bochy noted that Arroyo isn’t trying to slug his way out of this. He went the other way with a runner on third last night, driving in a run. He has shown an ability to get runners in, which this team needs, but the numbers are what they are. Arroyo is batting .130 over his last 12 games with two extra-base hits, which have also happened to be huge ones. 

Two weeks ago, it seemed crazy to think Arroyo might be sent down. But Aaron Hill and Conor Gillaspie will return on the next homestand and the Giants don’t have that many spots to play with. There’s a lot at play here. There are service time implications in sending Arroyo down, and Nuñez could come into play if he can’t handle left with a sore leg. Perhaps the Giants move him back to third or 10-day DL him.

The Giants are talking about all this daily and there are questions to be asked. Isn’t the team better with Arroyo, even if he is fighting it at the plate? Are Hill and Gillaspie worthy of bumping a top prospect back down temporarily? Is Arroyo best served seeing tough pitches from big leaguers or going back down to continue beating up on Triple-A starters? On the last point, Bochy said he thinks seeing Major League pitching is invaluable. He wouldn’t, however, indicate a lean one way or the other on what the front office will do.

“I don’t want to make assumptions here on what we’ll do because we do have moves to make with Conor and Aaron Hill,” he said. “They’re not easy (decisions) but we have to figure out what we’re going to do.”

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series finale in Chicago:

Giants (20-28)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Mac Williamson (R) LF
8. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (1-5, 4.57 ERA)

Cubs (24-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Miguel Montero (L) C
8. Javier Baez (R) SS
9. Eddie Butler (R) P (1-0, 2.00 ERA)