Giants don't get away with any mistakes in AZ sweep

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Giants don't get away with any mistakes in AZ sweep

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PHOENIX The Arizona clay was so baked and so firm, BusterPosey couldnt tell if his foot was still touching the plate.

It was not. Everything in the seventh inning Sunday heck,everything in this season-opening series was not where the Giants needed itto be.

The Giants wore new alternate uniforms inspired by the 1980sand ended up in a time warp, all right. The Arizona Diamondbacks mixed jabswith haymakers while coming back from a six-run deficit against Matt Cain, thenscored the tiebreaking run when Poseys foot drifted off the dish on a forceplay and the Giants were stunned after a 7-6 loss swept them out of the SonoranDesert.

The Giants are 0-3 to begin a season for the first timesince 1984, when current announcer Duane Kuiper, not Cain, wore No.18.

The Diamondbacks, the defending NL West champions, droppedexclamation points over the fence while scoring 14 runs in 15 13 inningsagainst Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain. Manager Kirk Gibsonsconfident crew has now beaten the Giants eight consecutive times dating back tolast season, and 10 of the last 12.

So the Giants were left with two unfavorable subjects toponder on their flight to Denver: The myriad ways they let three one-run gamesget away from them, or the uncanny way that Arizonas hitters barreled up everymistake pitch.

One thing the Diamondbacks did all series if we mademistakes, they made us pay for them, Posey said.

Lincecum and Bumgarner made most of theirs in the firstinning. Cain didnt begin to miss badly until he had a big lead.

Whether they got to their pitch early or late, they got toit, said left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, who took the loss when he only retiredone of three batters in a calamitous seventh inning.

It just shows the game is not easy and were facing a goodoffensive team thats gotten better and better over the years. I think wevegot good enough pitching to equalize them, but we just didnt get it done.

The Giants started out well enough. Shortstop BrandonCrawfords first hit of the season also gave the club its first lead of 2012.His double in the second inning gave the Giants a 2-0 lead and Buster Poseymade it 6-0 in the third when his two-run home run carried near the swimmingpool in right-center.

Poseys Easter Sunday home run was his first in the bigleagues since April 24 of last season -- which also happened to be EasterSunday, strangely enough.

But the Giants quieted down as soon as right-hander JoshCollmenter departed, though a momentum stoppage they later would regret. Theyeven failed to capitalize when the Diamondbacks committed four errors over thefourth, fifth and sixth innings. Left-hander Wade Miley didnt allow a hit inhis four innings a troubling sign after the Giants struggled to pose a threatto any left-handed pitching this spring.

Still, the Giants had Cain on the mound and no cause foralarm. After all, they didnt blowa lead of larger than four runs all last season; the last time they blew a leadof six runs or more was July 28, 2010, to Florida and that game resulted in a10-9 victory.

Yet Lyle Overbay hit a two-run double in the fourth and Cainpaid for consecutive mistakes in the sixth. Ryan Roberts hit a two-run homerand Overbay followed with a solo shot to get the Diamondbacks within a run.

In both rallies, Miguel Montero drew a walk.

Middle, middle, said Cain, describing the two home runpitches. The two walks to Montero were obviously huge, too.

Cain didnt allow two home runs in any of his 33 starts lastseason. He served up just nine for the year. Arizona hit just one in 175 totalplate appearances against him.

Maybe the Diamondbacks were just overdue.

The thing about these guys, almost every one of em cantake you deep, Cain said. So youve got to focus on making pitches to all ofthem. Youve got to stay on your game and not let anything slip. That happenedtoday. I didnt make pitches when I needed to.

Neither did Affeldt or Santiago Casilla, who combined toload the bases in the seventh on a single and two walks. Left-hander JavierLopez got the ground ball that maanger Bruce Bochy wanted from Montero, ButCrawford backpedaled on the ball and couldnt make a clean stop as the tyingrun scored.

"I was trying to get the big hop and I just rushed myself,trying to get two instead of the one out, said Crawford, who was charged withan error.

Right-hander Sergio Romo got another badly needed groundball from Chris Young, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval threw wide to the plateand Posey couldnt keep his right foot from sliding. Umpire Mike DiMuroimmediately called Aaron Hill safe.

Posey did not argue. Bochy did, and got ejected.

I couldnt tell, to be honest, Bochy said. I got wordfrom somebody in the dugout he was on home plate and I lost it. Looking at it,(DiMuro) was right. Its a natural reaction.

Posey was charged with his third error of the series. Healso made a weak throw to second base earlier in the game, and failed to securea foul pop near the screen.

He said he kept his right foot on the plate because thatshow he would stand on a force play as a first baseman not to protect hissurgically repaired left ankle.

As hard as the ground is there, I couldnt feel where itwas, he said.

Now the Giants face an even harder reality. They must turn to Barry Zito, who threw battingpractice toward the end of the spring, to prevent them from the first 0-4 startin the clubs San Francisco era. They havent been 0-4 to start a season since1950. Thats when Bill Rigney as a player, not a manager wore No.18, incase you were wondering.

At least a few current Giants were willing to look ahead,memorizing May 11-13 on the schedule. Thats when theyll return to ChaseField.

Well be back here in a month, said Crawford. And wellbe back.

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco …