EXTRA BAGGS: History says sweep, but don't sleep on Tigers, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: History says sweep, but don't sleep on Tigers, etc.

DETROIT The Giants are making history in so many wayswhile taking a three-to-none edge in the World Series, but this statistic mighttop them all:

The Detroit Tigers are the first AL team to be shut out intwo consecutive World Series games since the 1919 Chicago White Sox. And as weall remember from history, those hitters on the take were actually trying tomake outs.

The Giants are a win away, they haven't trailed in three World Series games and their second title in three years looks like a mortal lock: Of the 23 previous teams to takea 3-0 lead in the Fall Classic, all 23 have won. Not only that, but 20 of thoseteams pulled off the victory in Game 4 to complete the sweep.

No team down 3-0 has even managed to extend the series toGame 5 since 1970.

RELATED: San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series page

But the Giants continue to say the right things.

We arent sleeping on anybody, said closer Sergio Romo.But its within reach. Were in a position we honestly believed we should bein all season long.

This Game 3 victory behind Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum andRomo was a bigger deal than you might think. If the Tigers had pulled it out,they would come to Comerica Park on Sunday with a little more resolve andbelief as well as right-hander Max Scherzer, who has 18 strikeouts in 11innings this postseason.

And Justin Verlander, his hiccup in Game 1 aside, is linedup to save the Tigers season after that.

Itll still be a tough task for the Giants to clinch overthe next two days here in the Motor City, given the two pitchers theyll befacing. Its not like Matt Cain was razor sharp despite his impressivelinescore in Game 7 of the NLCS, either.

Bottom line: The Giants cant assume this series is overyet, even though the Tigers will have trouble finding any hopeful precedent.

Brandon Crawford came up with another big, RBI hit. Makethat five games out of six that the Giants have collected an RBI from theirNo. 9 hitter. The others were all knocked in by pitchers, of course.

Crawford is hitting just .209 this postseason, but hesgetting his hits when theyre needed most. Hes driven in seven runs on hisnine hits.

And he continues to play flawless defense, aside from onebadly rushed throw in the eighth inning.

Of all the Giants players that national writers andreporters are seeing for the first time, Crawford is the one who seems to beopening the most eyes. He plays on the West Coast and hes not a .300 hitter,so its hard for people in other time zones to appreciate what he doesdefensively on an everyday basis. Theyre seeing it now.

From the second half on, I dont know whos played a bettershort, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Just getting that sense of belonging,hes really grown as a player and thats what you want to see. Hes gettingsome big hits for us and hes a solid, all-around player. Hes just gettingbetter and better.

Tim Lincecum will be a starting pitcher next season. Just incase you were wondering.

But my goodness, hes been downright Smoltzian out there in relief. Ina way, Lincecums acceptance of his bullpen role, and the coaching staffsprescience in believing he could have an impact if utilized that way, speaks toeverything that makes Bochy the Giants most successful manager since JohnMcGraw. He evaluates a player's skills, puts them in the best position to utilize those skills, and cultivates enough belief, trust and goodwill to get them to buy in fully.

One more win, and Bochy will join McGraw as the only Giantsmanagers to win two World Series championships.

The Giants are the first World Series team to have three starting pitchers allow a total of one run or less over a three-game span since the 1905 Giants, who had Christy Mathewson and "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity.

I wonder if "Iron Man" Joe believed in the power of RallyEnchiladas.

Ryan Vogelsong already had fond memories of Comerica Parkbefore winning his World Series debut.

It was here last season that Giants manager Bruce Bochy toldVogelsong that he made the NL All-Star team a moment of validation for apitcher who was the opening-day starter at Triple-A Fresno and had beenreleased by the Phillies and Angels Triple-A clubs the previous year.

Yeah, that crossed my mind, Vogelsong said. When wewalked in for the workout yesterday, I thought about it when I walked by thisoffice. But yeah, I mean, what an amazing experience. I was thrilled to deathbefore the game even started just to have this opportunity. Im just glad I wasable to have a solid game and come out on the right side.

I passed by Jim Leyland on his way out of the interview roomand he looked like he couldve lit a cigarette by sticking it in his ear.

Maybe its because the first question was second-guessinghim for crowding his infield in the second inning.

And what about being down 3-0? What does he tell his team?

You dont tell them anything, Leyland said. They cancount.

Hey, fun fact! The Giants are 31-13 on the road since the All-Star break.

Last words from Delmon Young or is it last rites?

Im either going back to San Francisco to play Game 6 orIm going back to Beverly Hills, Young said. Id like to go back to SanFrancisco, but the odds are against us right now.

Giants spring training Day 15: Arroyo picks up where he left off

Giants spring training Day 15: Arroyo picks up where he left off

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants do not expect Christian Arroyo, their top hitting prospect, to get a lot of at-bats in a camp filled with veteran infielders. But the 21-year-old continues to make the most of every opportunity he gets. 

Arroyo hit a scorching single to left in his first at-bat Monday. When he came up with the bases loaded in the seventh, he poked a single into right, tying the game. Arroyo grounded out in his final at-bat, ending his perfect run this spring. With three hits in his first four at-bats down here, Arroyo is now 17-for-30 in three springs in big league camp.

“It’s the same (thing) he did last spring,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s getting great at-bats and playing well at shortstop. In the early go here, he’s playing the kind of ball that he was last spring. His mechanics are very solid. It’s a good foundation, good balance, and he doesn’t try to do too much. The bat stays in the zone a long time and he uses the whole field well. He’s a good hitter. He’s only going to hit for more power. The power is going to come, too.”

A move to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League should help. No matter what Arroyo does this spring, the Giants will send him to Triple-A if their 40-man guys are healthy. But Arroyo’s time is coming, and it’s coming soon. 

For more on Arroyo, here’s a feature I wrote about him last week. Here’s more from the first day of the third week of spring training … 

GAME RECAP: The Giants will not go undefeated this season. They lost to the A’s for the 124th consecutive time in the Cactus League, this time by a score of 5-4 … Michael Morse got the first hit of his comeback attempt. His pinch-hit single up the middle in the seventh drove in a run. In the eighth, he lined a two-strike single to right … Brandon Belt hit his first homer of the spring. It was the 24th of his spring training career. You can see it here … Bochy was impressed with Jose Dominguez, who struck out one in a scoreless inning. 

STOCK WATCH: Orlando Calixte played right field, after previously seeing time at short and second this spring. “He’s intriguing,” Bochy said. “He showed the arm off in right field. He’s a good shortstop and plays second and third. He’s a good athlete.” The Giants plan to carry five outfielders, but if none of the right-handed bats break through, they could always carry Calixte as a super-utility guy. Remember, he’s on the 40-man roster. 

CUETO UPDATE: The co-ace still is not in big league camp, or on the way. Here’s the latest on Johnny Cueto. 

TRAINER’S ROOM: This room now belongs to Anthony Reyes, as Dave Groeschner is off to South Korea with Hensley Meulens and Team Netherlands. Will Smith (elbow) threw off flat ground and everything went fine. Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) will likely resume playing third base later this week.

QUOTABLE: “To have that splitter that out of the hand looks like a heater, for me, that’s huge.” — Jeff Samardzija on a pitch that helped him dominate in September. Here’s more on Samardzija and his plans for 2017. 


Samardzija sticking with more versatile approach in second year with Giants

Samardzija sticking with more versatile approach in second year with Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija’s first season in San Francisco was ultimately not far from what the Giants hoped it would be. Samardzija gave them the desired durability, throwing 203 innings with a 3.81 ERA in 32 starts. 

The route to those final numbers was remarkably circuitous. Samardzija had a 2.84 ERA through the season’s first two months, but that number jumped all the way up to 6.23 over his next 11 starts, seven of them losses for the team. As the Giants went into a second-half tailspin, Samardzija found his groove and helped keep them in the playoff race. He had a 2.45 ERA over his final 10 starts, earning the nod as the Game 2 starter in the NLDS. That appearance against the Cubs lasted just two innings. 

The up-and-down season showed the Giants two very different versions of a big offseason acquisition, and at times opposing hitters saw two very different Samardzijas. He went heavy on his cutter early, but when hitters started teeing off on pitches that all came in at a somewhat similar velocity, Samardzija mixed in a curveball that was completely mothballed through June. Down the stretch, when he found his form, Samardzija brought back his splitter and ignored the cutter. He threw 165 cutters in April but just two in September. On the flip side, he threw 113 splitters in September after never throwing more than 35 the first five months. 

“He found the splitter and using it more made him more of a complete pitcher,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s got the four (main) pitches now. They can’t just sit on the hard stuff. He had a good year. It was a little bump there, but he had a great run and was throwing the ball really well (down the stretch). He’s one of our guys. We certainly think (that deal) is going to pay off, and it did last year. He got us deep into games consistently.”

Samardzija learned from the up-and-down year, and during his first start of the spring, he varied the repertoire. He gave up two runs in the first inning but was pleased with a curveball he threw four times — twice for called strikes, twice for foul balls. 

“If you can get it going here in Arizona, it’s going to be a pretty solid pitch for you,” he said. “(Bringing it back last year) was kind of out of necessity. I picked it up and played around with it and it felt good.”

The curveball, which he hadn't thrown since 2012, changed eye levels last season and kept hitters from loading up on pitches in the low to mid 90s. Samardzija further expanded the velocity gap by finding the feel of a splitter that had toyed with him for years.

“For me, with that splitter coming back late in the year, it’s going to be about mixing it in and seeing what feels good on that day, seeing what’s going to be the out pitch,” he said. “I had been chasing (the feel) of it since 2014. We broke it all the way back down and went back to zero. So many guys were sitting fastball. To have that splitter that out of the hand looks like a heater, for me, that’s huge.”

The Giants expect the more varied approach to lead to big results in 2017, and Samardzija could subtly benefit from a change Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti made. Samardzija will pitch behind left-hander Matt Moore, not Johnny Cueto. He said he would often last season compare notes with Cueto, who like Samardzija, pitched most of his career in the NL Central. The two would often take a similar approach on the mound.

“(Opponents will) have to face a tough lefty like Moore, so they can’t have that same lineup two days in a row,” Samardzija said. “To me, that’s big.”