EXTRA (LATE) BAGGS: Shaking out the notebook from Cincy


EXTRA (LATE) BAGGS: Shaking out the notebook from Cincy

SOMEWHERE AT 32,000 FEET After the Giants bowled a turkeyto upend the Cincinnati Reds Thursday night, I lacked the time (OK, and energy) to write up the more traditional catch-all postgame notes column.

Then came Friday and the logistic Twister game of bookingflights, booking hotel rooms, cancelling flights, cancelling hotel rooms andre-booking cancelled hotel rooms.

But I finally had some time on the flight back to SanFrancisco today to go through my notebook, turn it upside-down and let the nickelsand dimes sprinkle out. A few gems in here, too.

Better late than never, I guess. If that running theme is good enough for the Cardinals and Giants, it'll work for me, too.

You could cite a hundred pitches or plays or wedding-feastmiracles that made a difference in the Giants three-game resurrection inCincinnati.

But one of them remains a source of amazement for the Giantscoaching staff: How in creation did Angel Pagan catch that sinking line drivefrom Dioner Navarro to end the eighth inning in Game 5? Wasnt he playing atno-doubles depth?

I call it half no doubles, Pagan explained later, througha gleaming smile. Navarro is not a home run hitter so I just moved in a littlebit. I wasnt shallow. When it was hit, I knew the situation in the game and Ihad to keep it in front of me. There is no way I can let that ball get past me(with the tying runs on base).

But when it was still in the air, I said, 'Hey, Im gonnagive myself a chance to make a play.' It was perfect. It was awesome.

Perfect and awesome. Two useful adjectives.

Pagan also offered a great eyewitness description from thirdbase when Buster Posey hit his grand slam off Mat Latos. Pagan didnt turn back towardthe base to admire the 434-foot shot. He was tagging up, he admitted.

I was getting ready to tag on that ball and it was a mileout! Pagan said. Hey, you cannot take any chances when you get to this pointin the season. And you know what? In our park, you never think its gone.

I liked Matt Cains account of Poseys slam, too.

I was sitting in the dugout just trying to get out of thesun, Cain said. All I saw is he made a good swing. His reaction told me therest.

Blinded by the light.

The Giants were too classy to crow over their dismantling ofMat Latos, whose I hate SF autographed baseballs probably spiked in valueafter Poseys slam completed a six-run fifth inning in Game 5.

But from what I understand, there is no pitcher that Poseyenjoys beating more than Latos.

Well from what I can tell, every time out hes competing,hes going after it with everything hes got, Posey said. As another guy wholoves to compete, thats a fun matchup.

No crowing to be found there. Pagan cawed a bit, though.

Its just we were better, he said. Latos was pitchinggreat. He had an electric fastball. But we were better than him. He got introuble once and we didnt wait.

Credit due to Giants advance scout Keith Champion, who trackedthe Reds in the weeks leading up to the NL Division Series. The Giants didntoverwhelm the Reds lineup like they did to Texas in the 2010 World Series, butthey never seemed out of position in the field.

Pat Burrell, by the way, followed the Washington Nationals towardthe end of the year and he was one of two scouts advancing the Nats-Cards NLDS. When the year began, he wasnt sure if hed like a second career in scouting. Turns out he lovesit, and he hopes to remain part of the organization again next year.

Hes always had an eye for talent.

I asked Brian Wilson if he took note that the Game 5 umpirewas Tom Hallion, whose Taibo-punch strikeout call should be familiar toGiants fans. It was Hallion who rang up Ryan Howard when Wilson nestled hislittle cut-slider at the bottom of the strike zone to clinch the 2010 NLCS atPhiladelphia.

Wilson did remember. He also came close to reprising hispostgame statement from that wild night: I want to rage. RIGHT NOW.

This time, it was: I could puke right now and I have araging headache and I wouldnt change a thing.

Wilson is supposed to begin playing catch in a few days, bythe way. Hell be cleared to start throwing six months after his Tommy John surgery, which is six days from now. He plans to pick up a ball the moment the trainers allow it.

Heres Wilson, from April 15: I dont think (the bullpenis) going to falter. I think were going to take the West no matter what,whether Im here or not.

Two more gems from that interview that are worthrebroadcasting:

On missing a year: No big deal. If I plan on playing forever, then this is asmall percentage of my career.


On his contract status: The Giants have me for another year. Youre welcome.

Apparently, Wilson was just as hyper and hilarious in theninth inning of Game 5.

We got the first out in the ninth and, you know, we hadntseen Wilson in the dugout all game, Giants third base coach Tim Flannery said.All the sudden here he comes and hes screaming. 'Thats one out. One out!'Then he starts yelling at the ball boy, 'Hey were going to get you, ball boy!Youre going down!'

It got a little quieter in the dugout, though, as Sergio Romo battledJay Bruce for 12 pitches when one mistake couldve ended the Giants season. AsBruce kept fouling off two-strike pitches, Flannery kept shifting his weight.

Explained the Flan Man: You stand in one spot and yourelike, 'Nope. Foul ball. Thats not it.' So you take a little step, anotherfoul, and 'Nope, that wasnt it, either.' Youre talking about some serioussuperstition right there.

Everyone hit the right spot in the end -- Romo, mostimportantly.

Theyll be talking for a long time about how Bruce Bochyoutmanaged Dusty Baker, and the irony that Baker once again couldn't skipperhis team to a clinching victory this time while competing against the Giantsinstead of with them.

But in the entire series, I thought Baker only made tworeally egregious mistake. One of them was staying with Mike Leake far too longin Game 4. Bochy seemed to run his team with a greater sense of urgency theentire series, but then again, he had to. He was the manager facing eliminationthree times. In that spot with Leake, though, Baker was too passive.

Then there was Bakers odd decision from the sixth inning ofGame 5, when he put two runners in motion with no outs, a 3-2 count to RyanHanigan and the Reds down 6-3. Hanigan took a called third strike (that lookedto be outside, actually) and Posey made a terrific throw while maneuveringaround the batter to nab the not-so-speedy Jay Bruce at third base.

They were the only two outs a Giants starting pitcherrecorded in the sixth inning all series.

Why did Baker start the runners when he still trailed bythree? Well, he said he wanted to stay out of the double play with Hanigan, andhe trusted that the batter wouldnt strike out. Its true, Hanigan seldomwhiffs and he walks almost as often as he strikes out. But when you makedecisions to hedge the worst-case scenario, you send a bit of a message. Youreoperating on fear. And in the postseason, as Bochy has shown countless times,you cannot manage with any fear.

All that aside, there arent many people in the game whohave Bakers class and cool. For some of the longtime coaches, like Ron Wotus,it was as difficult to watch Dustys season end in disappointment as it was forBochy two years ago, when he beat the Braves to end Bobby Coxs career. Im notsure Bochy admires anyone in baseball more than Bobby Cox.

Im not sure where my career is going here in Cincinnati,Baker said after Game 5. Were going to talk about that in the next coupledays. But Im not through managing yet. I have more to do.

You get tired of the disappointments, but then you get overit. It hurts, big time. Im a strong man, and usually I get over hurts and itmakes me stronger when I come back.

Ive been back home for an hour and I already feel stronger.I did not look forward to the idea of carrying alcohol-soaked clothes around withme for four more days. The washing machine is running in the background now,and Ill get going to the ballpark in a few minutes for todays workout.

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent


As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

LOS ANGELES — The Giants left their dugout quickly after Friday’s loss, escaping a celebration on the mound and a fireworks show in the sky. As Dodger Stadium shook with cheers, Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani. 

“He’s good,” Bochy said, laughing. “I absolutely would play him every day.”

Earlier in the week, when it became known that Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley were headed to Japan to scout Otani, Bochy said he couldn’t imagine a player pitching and then moving to the outfield between starts. What changed? 

Perhaps it was the tape Bochy saw. Otani throws 100 mph and hits homers with ease. Or perhaps it was the game he watched Friday. The Giants lost for the 94th time, with the big blow coming from a 22-year-old Dodgers star. Cody Bellinger’s blast was the difference in a 4-2 win, and the Giants don’t have a Bellinger, or anything close. Otani, 23, is a long shot for a team that very well could finish with the worst record in baseball. Still, he’s the kind of talent that could help pull the Giants closer in a hurry. He’s the  kind of talent they haven’t developed in years, and Bochy certainly sounded a bit wistful as he talked of the power Bellinger has put on display. 

“You call up a guy and he does that — that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a rare deal.”

The ninth inning of the Dodgers’ clincher reinforced that point for the Giants. They got a homer from Pablo Sandoval, but he’s playing only because Christian Arroyo — the Giants’ best prospect bet this year — is hurt. Ryder Jones, their 23-year-old prospect, struck out to end the night, dropping his average to .180. 

That set off a celebration for Bellinger and the Dodgers. They have won five straight NL West titles, with three of the last four clinched against the Giants. 

“Congrats to them,” Bochy said. “They’ve had a tremendous year across the board, and they’ve played great baseball. They brought some guys up that really did a great job for them. It’s well deserved.”

Bochy said it was not difficult to watch this one. The division has been wrapped up for months, with only a September slide keeping the Dodgers from clinching earlier. 

“We knew what we were facing here,” Bochy said. 

The Giants have two more against the Dodgers and then six more before a long winter. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will host an NLDS series here at Dodger Stadium. Both Bochy and starter Jeff Samardzija made the same observation, that the Dodgers will have a hard time cutting their deep roster down to 25 postseason players. 

That’s a nice problem to have. It’s a foreign one right now for the Giants, who have a serious talent gap and no clear solutions internally. It’s no wonder, then, that Bochy has all of a sudden become so intrigued by a wondrous talent overseas. 

Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers


Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — When the Giants gathered for spring training in February, team officials thought they had put together a rotation with four 200-inning arms. The starters didn’t come close to hitting that lofty goal, but one Giant got to the 200-inning mark Friday night. 

Jeff Samardzija hit 200 innings in the third inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium, reaching the standard for the fifth consecutive season. Samardzija also became the first Giant this year to reach 200 strikeouts when he struck out Curtis Granderson to open the second inning. The right-hander will be the only member of the rotation to reach either milestone, with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto limited by injuries and Matt Moore having a down year. 

“These guys like Jeff that are able to handle that workload that he does and log 200 innings and have durability, that’s invaluable,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You look at what it does for the ‘pen but also the quality of innings he gives you. His record should be different with how he has thrown the ball — he can’t control that. But the workload itself is important.”

Samardzija became the first Giants right-hander to strike out 200 in a season since Tim Lincecum (220) in 2011. Samardzija joined Carlos Martinez as the only National League pitchers who have thrown 200 innings this year, and Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Robbie Ray, Martinez and Zack Greinke in the league’s 200-strikeout club.