EXTRA BAGGS: Scutaro MLB's best at contact, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Scutaro MLB's best at contact, etc.


SAN FRANCISCO The next time you see Marco Scutaro swingand miss, take stock of the moment. Etch it in your memory. Then understand youarent likely to see it again soon.

Entering Friday nights huge showdown with the Los AngelesDodgers, Scutaro had made contact on 94 percent of strikes thrown to him thisseason. If that sounds exceptionally high, it is.

It leads the major leagues.

Josh Hamilton swings and misses at 31 percent of strikesthrown to him. Even a hitter with such refined skills as Buster Posey swingsand misses at 11 percent of the strikes he sees.

But Scutaro is in another universe. If the ball is anywherebetween the chest and the hollow of the kneecap, and is over any portion of thedish, Scutaro will find a way to put his bat on it.

That is a handy skill for a No. 2 hitter. It gives Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy supreme confidence to put runners in motion. Unless its apitchout, Scutaro will probably advance the runner -- or better yet, move himfrom first to third with one of those flares to right field.

Tim Lincecum might have said it best:

Well, I know I didnt like facing him, he said.

Scutaro smiled when that comment was relayed to him.

I didnt like facing him, either, he said.

When the Giants acquired Scutaro from the Colorado Rockieson July 27, he was a 35-year-old hitting .271 with an unimpressive .684 OPS. Hewas on pace to hit five home runs and drive in fewer than 60. But the Giantskept asking about him; Im told they had asked the Boston Red Sox about tradingfor him over the offseason, too.

Finally, a week ahead of the trade deadline, the Rockiescalled the Giants with a list of names. Scutaro was on it.

The Giants tried not to give away their excitement.

The Rockies only asked for minor leaguer Charlie Culberson,who had long ago lost his shine as a top prospect. Colorado even kicked in500,000 to cover some of the roughly 2 million remaining on Scutaroscontract.

The Giants didnt have to take any high-priced dead weight,as the Dodgers did.

It just goes to show that value doesnt always lie in theritziest players. Not only has Scutaro been a perfect addition for Bochyskeep the line moving offense, but hes come up with some huge hits withrunners on base. You could make the argument that Scutaros approach has rubbedoff on some of his teammates, especially when you think back to the first halfand consider the Giants woeful .225 average with runners in scoring positionprior to the break.

They were 4-for-11 with RISP in a well played, 5-2 victoryover the Dodgers on a rowdy Orange Friday at AT&T Park. And Scutaro, ofcourse, collected the two-out, two-run, tiebreaking single in the seventhinning.

Theyre hitting .311 with RISP since the All-Star break --the best in the majors.

It comes down to making more contact with runners on base,and Scutaro has the stats to prove it: nobody in the major leagues is better atputting the bat on the ball.

Seeing as second base is a wide-open proposition for 2013, it wouldn't be surprising to see Scutaro return on a two-year contract.

There was no crowing in the Giants clubhouse, even thoughtheir 5 12game lead is their largest in the NL West since the final game ofthe 2003 season. (Coincidental note: The pitcher they faced in Game 1 of theNLDS vs. Florida that season, Josh Beckett, was on the mound for the Dodgers Fridaynight.)

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But Scutaro was among several players who noted that theydlove to clinch before setting foot in Dodger Stadium for those final threeregular-season games.

We dont want to go back there those last three games andbe close, Scutaro said.

Added Sergio Romo: Wed like to not necessarily put ourfeet up, because you never can in this game, but wed like to have an idea whatsgoing to happen. It happens so seldom in this game, but thats what we want.

Brandon Crawford had another solid game on both ends, twicegetting on base and scoring runs from second base on singles. But Joaquin Ariaswill be at shortstop against left-hander Chris Capuano on Saturday, Bochy said.

Prior to the game, Bochy said he planned to move bodies inthe late innings and he accomplished it without wasting an extra player. AfterGregor Blanco pinch-ran for Hector Sanchez, Bochy put Blanco in left field,moved Brandon Belt from left to first base and stuck Buster Posey behind theplate.

Blanco stole a base and scored the tiebreaking run, and theGiants improved their defense in at least two spots without going to the bench.All in all, not bad.

Santiago Casilla is recharged and has become a late-inningweapon again. As mentioned in the slideshow I filed earlier today, the Giantsbullpen had struggled against the Dodgers while posting a 5.97 ERA in 12 games.Its on nights like Friday that a closer by committee is really tested. Casillaand Romo made the pitches to nail down a seismic victory.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants get swept by Mets at home

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants get swept by Mets at home


SAN FRANCISCO — The Mets spent the first half of this week in Los Angeles, where they got swept by the Dodgers and outscored 36-11. Their beat writers publicly wrote an end to any thoughts of the postseason. The fan base renewed the calls for manager Terry Collins to be fired. 

That’s where they were. And then they flew to San Francisco. 

AT&T Park continues to be a place where others get healthy, and this weekend it was the Mets. The Giants lost 8-2 on Sunday, getting swept by a similarly disappointing team. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games. 

There’s not much more to be said about it, but I did anyway. Here are five things to know from the day a relief pitcher got an at-bat but it would have been far too cruel to text your friends … 

—- Matt Moore’s line: 4 1/3 innings, seven hits, five earned runs, three walks, five strikeouts. Through 16 starts, he has a 6.04 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. He ranks last among qualified NL starters in ERA. Only Matt Cain (1.73) has a worse WHIP. Good times. 

—- Mets righty Rafael Montero entered with an 0-4 record and 6.49 ERA. He gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings. Good times. 

—- With runners on the corners and two outs in the third inning, Brandon Belt strolled to the plate. He leads the team in homers. Hunter Pence tried to steal second for some reason and he was caught, ending the inning and keeping Belt from batting in a two-run game. Good times. 

—- With two on and no outs in the sixth, the Giants sent the runners to make sure Buster Posey didn’t hit into a double play. Posey popped up softly to first and Joe Panik was doubled off of second. Good times. 

—- One last bit of bad news: Austin Slater was removed from the game with a tight right hip flexor. 

Barry Bonds predicts he can still smash Splash Hit: 'Without a doubt'

Barry Bonds predicts he can still smash Splash Hit: 'Without a doubt'

Barry Bonds stepped into Giants' broadcast booth with Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow during the top of the third inning Sunday and Kuiper immediately brought up the shape Bonds is in at 52 years old. 

"Still think you can play, probably?" Kuiper asked Bonds. 

After giving Kuiper the look, Bonds replied, "About an inning or two."

Moments later, the cameras moved to McCovey Cove past the right field wall at AT&T Park where Bonds famously hit home runs deep into the water. Of the 73 Splash Hits off Giants bats into the cove, Bonds is responsible for 35 of them. 

Now an avid cyclist who still picks up a bat from time to time, Bonds is fully confident that number would rise if he stepped into the batter's box again. 

"I promise you I will," Bonds replied when Krukow asked if he could still hit home runs into the water. "Without a doubt." 

Krukow predicted Bonds would need 10 swings to get it done. Bonds says he might need just a few more.

"Well it would take me eight swings to get warmed up, three pop ups and then I'd get it," he said with a laugh. 

During spring training this year, Bonds joined the Giants as a special instructor. And he proved his claim of more Splash Hits could certainly be true as he showed off his legendary swing and cracked balls over the wall in Scottsdale

Bonds hit his final home run of his career, No. 762, on Sept. 5, 2007 on the road against the Rockies in a 5-3 Giants win. The Giants are adding Bonds to their Wall of Fame on July 8.