Fighting Giants ride Scutaro to walk-off win over Arizona

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Fighting Giants ride Scutaro to walk-off win over Arizona

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SAN FRANCISCO Long before he laced a single past a divingDiamondback for a walk-off single in the Giants 9-8 win, Marco Scutaro was lettingloose in the Giants clubhouse by taking Hunter Pences new motorized scooterfor a joy ride.Five hours later, Scutaro tried to scoot away from a mob scene of teammateslooking to pulverize their new ringer, who came over from the Rockies in a inlate July trade.For all the attention the rival Los Angeles Dodgers received for their multipleblockbuster trades to acquire Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Co., the mostvaluable mercenary so far this season might be a man by the name of Marco.In 36 games with San Francisco, Scutaro has hit .322 with nine doubles, twohome runs and 22 RBIs. He has hit safely in 28 of his 36 games as a Giant. Hes just a professional player, said Buster Posey, whoset the stage for Scutaro with a similarly placed game-tying hit in the ninth.He does it on defense and then he gives you a great at-bat every time. Hes aguy that goes up there with a plan, has an idea of what he wants to do and hesbeen huge for us.What was Scutaros plan?I just go there with a plan and try and get a good pitch tohit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt. Thats pretty much my plan.It may seem like a simple approach, but it has led to a successful 11-year MLBcareer and earned praise from his skipper.Ive always admired Marcos play, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Ivealways respected how he plays the game. Hes so professional with how he goesabout his business.It was business as usual when Scutaro picked up his third hit of the afternoonin the 10th inning; and it was the culmination of an impressivecomeback.The Giants scored four runs in the first inning to give Barry Zito an earlylead, but the veteran southpaw, 36-3 in his career when given that muchsupport, unraveled after four sparkling innings. Zito struck out five in hisfirst two frames, but gave up a two-run shot in the fifth and allowedback-to-back singles to open the sixth. That forced Bochy to turn to GuillermoMota, who allowed both runs to score and opened the floodgates for a five-runinning. Down 7-4 after six innings, the Giants scored once in the seventh onlyto watch Arizona take that run back in the top of the eight. But Bochys clubcontinued to claw back into the game, scoring twice in the home half of theeighth before tying the game with a run in the ninth and winning it onScutaros knock in the 10th.Tremendous comeback, especially when you have the four-run lead and couldnthold it and couldnt get that last out in the sixth for a while, Bochy said. Thefellas fought hard off some good pitching.Fighting seemed to be a common theme in the victorious clubhouse.Were just showing a lot of fight right now, showing a lotof character, Zito said. We just keep fighting. Were relentless. Its justawesome.Its always exciting to get a walk-off, but the importantthing is it was a great team effort, Scutaro said. We never give up; we justkeep fighting. We didnt put our head down, we just keep fighting and play hardall the way till the end.The team effort that Scutaro made sure to mention was aproduct of an expanded roster that included players like Jean Machi, whocontributed with a scoreless ninth inning in his MLB debut, and Brett Pill, wholaid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Brandon Crawford, the eventualgame-winning run, into scoring position ahead of Scutaros single.It makes it a little tougher when you have so many playersthere, Bochy said of his inflated roster. The thinking process is a littlebit longer right now because you have more choices and decisions. For example, with Hector Sanchez, wemade the double switch there and Pill goes in the game and lays down a perfectbunt and helps us win the ballgame.It was the first career sacrifice bunt for Pill, who said he wasnt sure if heeven had one in the minor leagues. But he said that he learned buntingfundamentals at Cal State Fullerton and told bench coach Ron Wotus that he wasready to put those skills to the test.We did check with him when he was up here earlier, Bochy said. He can handlethe bat. He laid down a perfect bunt. Theres no question we were going to askhim to bunt at that point.Pills bunt was part of an unorthodox offensive effort in San Francisco, butone that is obviously working as the Giants are in first place and aseason-high 19-games over .500 at 77-58. Long balls are rare at AT&T Park,but clutch hitting has become the norm of late. The Giants went 9-for-15 with runners in scoringposition, including three doubles, a triple and all nine of their RBIs.Its pretty impressive watching this offense do its work,Zito said. They are scrappy. We dont hit a ton of home runs. We just fightand manufacture runs. Pill laid down a huge bunt today and thats a hugeindicator of what weve been doing.What the Giants have been doing is slowly but surelyextending a division lead over the Dodgers. And while Bochy isnt ready to lookahead, he is aware of the extra eyes focused on his club.Theres a lot more attention on these games now, Bochysaid. Every games intense, but the intensity goes up a little bit inSeptember.Every win counts the same in the standings, but it wasnthard to pick up on a vibe that the Giants were aware this one wasnt just anyordinary win.Its huge; every game is huge, as we know, Zito said. Butyoure going to lose a few. And when theres some games where it looks likeyoure going to lose, and then you come back and win, thats just in the bonuscolumn. Its those ones that really make the difference when the years over,the ones that we just kind of scrapped and ended up taking it.Posey, a player who has shown himself to be wary of hyperbole, didnt mince hiswords when he described Mondays win.Its probably one of, if not the best, wins of the year,he said. Especially just bouncing out to an early lead and the DBacks comingback and taking the lead. It felt like we were a little flat there in themiddle of the game. To pick it up and come away with the win is big.

Down on the Farm: Q&A with San Jose Giants 1B/3B Jonah Arenado

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San Jose Giants/Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Q&A with San Jose Giants 1B/3B Jonah Arenado

The Giants know Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado all too well. In 76 games, Arenado has a .308 batting average against the Giants with 20 home runs, his most off any team in all of the majors. 

Playing in Advanced Single-A, the Giants have their own Arenado. Brother Jonah Arenado plays first and third base for the San Jose Giants and hit 19 home runs in 2016. 

Before the younger brother went 2-for-4 against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Thursday night, NBC Sports Bay Area spoke over the phone with Arenado. Below is the full transcript where we talk his hitting approach, frustrations with the Lakers, trash talk with Nolan in ping pong and much more. 

Dalton Johnson: “You guys are now three weeks in, but I want to actually go back to Opening Day real quick. I know you guys ultimately lost, but it was a 16-inning game. Was that the longest game you’ve ever played in?” 

Jonah Arenado: “No, the longest game I ever played in was 17 innings.” 

DJ: “Really?! Wow! When was that?” 

JA: “I played 17 innings in Lakewood. I was playing for Augusta at the time. We were playing in New Jersey. So we went 17 innings, but we didn’t even get to finish the game. The fog got so extreme that we had to just cancel the game.” 

DJ: “The fog? That’s just crazy. So you were out in Augusta for the GreenJackets?” 

JA: “Yeah.”

DJ: “I was actually out in Savannah for college ball. I’m not sure if you guys ever played against the Sand Gnats.”

JA: “Yeah we were there the last year they had that stadium.” 

DJ: “Grayson Stadium. That was a really fun park. But a 16 or 17-inning game, I’m going to guess that the dugout has to get a little weird at some point, right?” 

JA: “Yeah you're just getting like... it gets kind of monotonous you know. It’s kind of like okay, when are we gonna score or when are they gonna score. And obviously you don’t want to lose the game, but you just want something to happen.” 

DJ: “What are you guys bringing out the rally caps or doing anything different?” 

JA: “No, no rally caps, but there’s times where a couple innings go by and someone will come into the dugout and try get jacked up or excite everyone. When it doesn’t work, it’s like alright here we go again.” 

DJ: “Off the field, I think you’re a Southern California guy and this is your second year out in Northern California in San Jose. Obviously you guys are always busy, but do you ever get to go out and check the Bay Area scenery at all?”

JA: “I’ve been to Santa Cruz and the beach over there. I’ve been to San Francisco. I went to San Francisco on an off day last year to watch the Giants-Rockies game. But besides that, no I rarely ever get to go out to San Francisco or anything like that.” 

DJ: “Off day, or you a golf guy or more of a relax guy? What are you trying to do on an off day?” 

JA: “I’m just trying to relax. Maybe hang out by the pool, just relax and hang out. Go to the beach. And if you do get to relax, I’m not trying to do anything that’s like a workout.” 

DJ: “Are there any places in San Jose where if someone’s coming from out town, you say, ‘Hey, this is where you need to go.’ San Jose, where would you go for one day?”

JA: “Oh, San Jose...” 

DJ: “Just go to a game? Tell them to go to a San Jose Giants game?” 

JA: “Yeah, yeah go to a San Jose Giants game and if not, Santa Cruz is 30 minutes down the road. I’d go to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is nice.” 

DJ: “And then on the field, you’re someone who hits for power. You hit 19 bombs last year. With the way different people are starting to look at the swing now, are you someone that’s actually trying to swing for the fences a little bit? Are you trying to hit a home run? What’s your approach?”

JA: “No, I feel like the more I try to hit a home run, the more I don’t. When I go in thinking line drive to the middle or stay through the middle, I feel a lot better. I know last year I didn’t start off well, and I’m not starting off well this year either, but I know if I think like I have to drive this ball or I have to hit a home run then that never happens. Try to stay simple, try to stay short is usually when things start working out.” 

DJ: “Well there’s all these different advanced analytics and you can track everything now. Are you someone that actually looks into something like launch angle or exit velocity? Or is it more see ball, hit ball?” 

JA: “I don’t like thinking about those 40-degree angles. Hitting is hard enough. To think about all that stuff is too much. But I know that a lot of people, that’s the new thing. Launch angle and try to lift the ball, and that’s all great. It’s whatever works for that person. I know Donaldson preaches it and he loves talking about it, but that’s him. That’s what works for him. I know for me, trying to lift the ball doesn’t work. When I try to lift the ball, I usually pop up. So when I’m trying to hit a hard line drive, that’s when I usually can drive that ball.” 

DJ: “Yeah it seems like when you’re practicing, you’re on the tee or getting front toss or whatever, that’s when you can kind of work on those things. But I couldn’t really imagine taking that over to the game. Once it’s game time, it’s get a pitch, be aggressive, hit it hard. Are you just trying to make things, like you said, as simple as possible once it’s go time?” 

JA: “Yeah, when I’m in the game I’m just trying to be as ready as I can for that fastball. Just see it and hit it. There’s nothing more to it, honestly. Obviously, when you’re struggling you start trying to fix things. When I’m going well, it’s never thinking about what this guy is gonna throw or make sure your foot is doing this. No, I never think about that. I think about see the ball and hit it as hard as I can.” 

DJ: “In the minor leagues, are these tracking systems as prominent or is that more available the higher you go?” 

JA: “I think it’s more available for the big leaguers. It’s hard to watch our swings on video because sometimes our games aren’t taped. We watch our home games because they are streamed, but besides that it’s hard to get all that stuff done.” 

DJ: “Can that almost be an advantage at the same time though? When you’re younger I think if you look too far into then you might press or try to do too much. If you’re just figuring things out on your own, that might even be a little better. Am I right or wrong there?” 

JA: “I think you’re both wrong and right. There’s times when you think too much and sometimes you think it’s your swing and it’s really not your swing, it’s your approach. I think that’s when it can hurt you. When you’re looking at it on video, but that was never really the problem, so then you’re changing a swing that was actually working, but your approach was what’s messed up so now you’re changing your swing and your approach. So that can hurt you. But it can also help you because if there is something mechanically wrong, you can fix it. If you can’t watch it, then how are you gonna know? When you’re in the box, you feel completely different. You never feel like that’s your swing. When you’re in the box, everything is different. When you see it on film, you see I’m dropping my hands, but in the box I’m telling myself to stay on top of the ball so you don’t think you’re dropping your hands, but you’re still dropping your hands, you know what I mean?” 

DJ: “It’s almost like a best of two evils.” 

JA: “Yeah, yeah.” 

DJ: “Back on the field, clearly you’re obviously from a very athletic family. For you, was it just baseball all the time?” 

JA: “My older brother played soccer, my oldest brother played basketball too and Nolan just played baseball. He played soccer for a little, but then went with just baseball. For me, I played basketball also. Basketball is my favorite sport.” 

DJ: “Oh, really?” 

JA: “Yeah, it was. Basketball is just so much fun. You go out and shoot down the street by your house and technically that’s practicing, you know what I mean?” 

DJ: “Oh yeah. Baseball obviously you can go hit off the tee, but basketball, I mean I shot for 20 minutes at the gym today and you feel great.” 

JA: “Yeah, you can work on so many different things. If you’re hitting like crap that day, then it’s really hard to fix it that day. Basketball, if you’re shooting and keep shooting, eventually it’s going to go in.” 

DJ: “So, who’s your team?” 

JA: “Oh, the Lakers. Unfortunately, yeah.” 

DJ: “Are you feeling good about the rebuild or how are you feeling about all that?” 

JA: “I don’t, man. Magic Johnson’s in there, so I hope he’s the answer. But they need to get a superstar. The Lakers are my team, they have always been my team, but the players on the team are bothering me lately.” 

DJ: “I’m sure you and your brother Nolan and all of your brothers competed against each other all the time growing up. Whether it be shooting hoops or playing video games or anything else, what was the one thing, especially with Nolan, where you knew you could beat him no matter what?” 

JA: “Oh man, that’s tough. It’s really hard to beat him. Him losing to me is like death, but he’ll do anything he can to not lose to me because he knows if I win I’ll talk. I’ll just keep talking about it. It’s hard to say. There’s days in ping pong, I’m not gonna say I’m a better ping pong player, but we’re both pretty competitive. If I beat him in ping pong, I mean, it’s over. He’s distraught and then he’ll just want to rematch me until he can beat me.” 

DJ: “If you beat him, you said you’re a talker. What’s your go-to angle when it comes to trash talk?” 

JA: “I just never let him forget it. If I beat him in ping pong that series or that day, you better believe all day I’m gonna wear it out.” 

DJ: “Were you guys video game guys at all or more outside?” 

JA: “We played video games here and there. Mostly it was outdoors. Wiffle ball was always big with me and my family. We still play to this day. We still play wiffle ball all the time.” 

DJ: “Wiffle ball, you’re in the backyard 1-on-1. Who wins between you and Nolan and if you have one pitch, what are you throwing him?” 

JA: “Throwing him? I’m throwing fastball at his face.”

DJ: “Fastball at his face?!?” 

JA: “I’m just kidding, just kidding.” 

DJ: “That might be the only way the Giants can slow him down.” 

JA: “I’ll throw some chin music and then try to throw a little changeup away.” 

DJ: “I got you there, I got you. One last question. Video game wise, if EA Sports could bring back college baseball or college football, what are you picking?” 

JA: “Baseball.” 

DJ: “That was the go-to right there.” 

JA: “I forgot, but there was a college baseball game. I forgot which one it was that we played all the time, but it was one of the best games we ever played.” 

DJ: “I remember they had Texas on the cover or something like that—”

JA: “Exactly! That’s exactly the one.” 

DJ: “They have to bring it back.” 

JA: “That game is the best.” 

Krukow: Belt needs to make mechanical improvements, 'it's a concern'

Krukow: Belt needs to make mechanical improvements, 'it's a concern'

Brandon Belt is hitting .238 with four home runs and nine RBI.

He has struck out 23 times in 80 at-bats.

"I just don't think he's hitting the fastball," Mike Krukow explained on KNBR 680 on Friday morning. "I think they're coming at him with a lot of fastballs at the belt, and until he turns some of those fastballs around, he's gonna get a continued steady diet of the same pitch.

"Go back and take a look at his home runs -- they're curveballs down and in ... this is something that's been a weakness of his for awhile. And teams are on it. They're telling him what's coming, and he's unable to hit it."

Belt has drawn 16 walks this season and his on-base percentage is .365.

"That's outstanding ... but he has to start beating that fastball," Krukow added. "And his best defense in most instances is just to take the fastball. But he can't do that. You see a belt-high fastball, a little bit above, you're thinking 'I gotta hit this.' And he's not hitting it.

"And until he starts making some adjustments, and you say, 'Well, how do you do that?' Well, you gotta flatten out your swing someway, to be able to take that loop that you have when you're swinging at that high fastball, out. And I think that's the way that you try and beat it."

"They're continuing to pound him with fastballs, and he's not doing anything with them. So it's a concern and he's got some work to do to try and solve that. He's gonna have to make some mechanical improvements."