Giants fans rock the vote, elect three All-Star starters

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Giants fans rock the vote, elect three All-Star starters

SAN FRANCISCO Third baseman Pablo Sandoval was asked howmany All-Star ballots he punched or mice he clicked.

I dont, I dont, Sandoval said, laughing. I dont havetime to vote.

Everyone else in the Bay Area did, apparently. Giants fanswere the story of All-Star selection Sunday, overwhelming the final vote totalsin a flood that was sufficiently large to generate suspicion.

Catcher Buster Posey, outfielder Melky Cabrera and Sandovalwere elected as starters to the NL squad, marking the first time that theGiants had three players lead the fan balloting at their positions since 2001.

Matt Cain was the only representative from the Giantspitching staff. If he gets the nod for the NL team, the Giants could have fourstarting players out of nine.

But thats only half the story. Posey, Cabrera and Sandovaldidnt just receive a final push in the voting. This was a gigawatt-sizedsurge.

Posey didnt simply lead all NL vote getters. His 7,621,370votes were the most ever for an NL All-Star. Cabrera didnt just catch reigningMVP Ryan Braun to make the starting outfield. He led all outfielders and his7,521,784 votes were second to Posey on the NL roster.

The biggest surprise was Sandoval, who missed a monthbecause of a broken hamate bone in his left hand and yet was able to pass theMets David Wright, who is hitting .355 and has led the NL in batting averagefor most of the season.

But nothing symbolized the ballot-box stuffing more thanthis: Freddy Sanchez, who hasnt played an inning in more than a year becauseof shoulder and back issues, ranked fourth among NL second basemen with2,289,147 votes.

I was getting nervous, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said,tongue in cheek. Because I didnt have Freddy all year and here he was goingto get a shot to start the All-Star Game.

The Giants fan influence was felt throughout the ballot.First baseman Brandon Belt and shortstop Brandon Crawford finished second attheir positions. Belt drew 3.9 million votes to finish well behind CincinnatisJoe Votto; Crawfords 3.6 million votes were just 300,000 fewer than theCardinals Rafael Furcal. Crawford outpaced much bigger names such as TroyTulowitzki and Jimmy Rollins.

Angel Pagan finished fifth among NL outfielders, finishingahead of Matt Holliday, Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Pence, among others.

Our fans our fans are crazy, Belt said. I mean, itsamazing.

The last time the Giants had three elected starters, secondbaseman Jeff Kent, outfielder Barry Bonds and shortstop Rich Aurilia led theballoting.

The Giants could add another representative if there areopenings on the NL pitching staff due to injury or starters being ineligible ifthey pitch the final day of the first half. That could open up a spot for RyanVogelsong or Madison Bumgarner, both of whom have the numbers to go.

As it stands, Cain is the lone representative from a Giantsstaff that is the primary reason the club has ascended to first place in the NLWest.

Who wouldve thought this is the way itd go for theAll-Star Game? Bochy said. Pitching is our strength and its the reason weare where we are.

Im surprised, but at the same time, Im not surprised.Because here again, you are hearing from these great fans. Its amazing whattheyve done and how theyve supported the players

I mean, when you see Freddy Sanchez get 2 million votes thats one of themore amazing things Ive seen.

Cain, who threw the 22nd perfect game in major league history on June 13, was among the selections from the player ballot; itshis third All-Star team and for the first time, hes eligible to compete in thegame. The previous two times, he was injured (struck on the elbow by a linedrive) andor ineligible because he threw on the Sunday before the break.

What if Cain gets to throw to Posey during the game?

I mean, thatd be perfect, said Cain, choosing anappropriate word.

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

CHICAGO — Had a half-dozen other things gone differently Wednesday night, the Giants might have spent the hour after the game shrugging off a blowout loss or celebrating one of the best at-bats of the year. 

Three innings after the game was nearly lost for good, Mac Williamson saw 12 pitches from Wade Davis, who entered with a perfect ERA in 19 appearances, fouling eight of them off before slamming a two-run homer to right. The play came with some comedic value, as Williamson nearly passed Eduardo Nuñez on the bases. It also came with some historic value, as it snapped a streak of 19 consecutive solo shots that was two shy of the MLB record. 

The homer was not, however, the talking point after the game. A few minutes after Williamson went deep, Joe Panik was tossing his bat into the grass in frustration over a called third strike that ended the game and clinched a 5-4 win for the Cubs. Ten minutes after that, Bruce Bochy watched the highlight and tossed his phone onto his desk. 

“It’s a shame to end on that call, it really is,” Bochy said. “We had him on fumes and that’s not a strike. But they got the call and that’s it.”

The Giants were left with their third loss in four games, a run that has halted their momentum. They again are 11 games back in the National League West, with so many nights like this one: A comeback seemed real, but the mistakes were too much to overcome. 

Williamson, in talking about his homer, pivoted and pointed to a blunder of his own. In a tied game in the fifth, Miguel Montero hit a single to right with Addison Russell on first. The speedy shortstop watched Williamson as the ball rolled into the outfield, and when Williamson didn’t charge as hard as he otherwise might, Russell took off for third. The throw was perfect, but late. Russell scored on a fly ball. 

“The home run is really cool but it would have been a lot cooler if I hadn’t have made the mistake earlier in the game and given them the extra run,” Williamson said, explaining that he has tried to focus on being smooth to the ball and not rushing on fast outfields. In the past, rushing has led to bobbles and extra bases. 

Another costly sequence came in the eighth. After the Giants left the bases loaded in the top of the inning, Steven Okert gave up a triple to Jason Heyward, who scored on a sacrifice fly. Okert, so good when he was first called up, has been less effective of late. 

“We’ve got to get our lefties going,” Bochy said. “We gave them a run there and that put it at three and that’s just enough to cover it for them.”

Truth be told, the Giants were probably lucky to even have worries at that point. The wind blew a three-run Heyward homer inches foul in the sixth, and while the Giants grumbled about the final call of the game, an earlier call on Heyward for running inside the base path took a Cubs run off the board and killed a rally. It was correct by the letter of the law, but one you rarely see. The Giants escaped, but they wouldn’t come all the way back, despite Williamson’s late push. 

The young outfielder has been looking to make an impact since coming back up on the last homestand. He knew how tough Davis has been. 

“He’s been the best in the game this year and the numbers speak for themselves,” Williamson said. “He has phenomenal stuff. You get in the box and figure you’ve got nothing to lose, battle as tough as you can.”

Williamson fouled off good strikes and tantalizing balls. When he lofted a 2-2 pitch toward right, he took off out of the box. The ball carried just over the wall, and Williamson didn’t look up until he rounded third. That’s when Phil Nevin started yelling at him to slow down. Nuñez, who had a tight hamstring, turned and told Williamson to slow down.

“I kinda blacked out for a second there,” Williamson said. 

“I was like, ‘Bro, it’s a homer — just jog,’” Nunez said.

The moment temporarily sent a rush through the dugout. Minutes later, the Giants were left livid over a game that probably shouldn’t have been so close, but nonetheless was right there for them to steal. 

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — The Giants will need a win on getaway day to clinch their first winning road trip.

Wednesday's comeback attempt fell just short, as the Giants scored two in the ninth but lost to the Cubs 5-4. Since taking the first two games in St. Louis, they have dropped three of four, falling 11 games back of the Rockies in the division.

Here are five things to know from the coldest Giants game of the year … 

— Mac Williamson fouled off eight pitches before going the opposite way against Wade Davis, who entered with a 0.00 ERA in 19 appearances. The two-run homer ended a run of 19 consecutive solo shots by the Giants, two short of their own MLB record. It was the first homer off Davis in two years. 

— The sixth inning was one of the stranger escapes we’ve seen from a pitcher this season. With two on and one out, Jason Heyward blasted a Matt Moore pitch right down the line and it looked like it would give the Cubs a 6-2 lead. The wind blew the ball a couple of feet foul. Heyward then topped one down the line and Moore’s throw bounced away from first, allowing a run to score. But the umpires called — correctly — Heyward out for running inside the line. It’s a call you rarely see. Moore then struck out Addison Russell to keep what could have easily been a 6-2 or 4-2 game at 3-2. 

— Before the first game of this series, a Giant asked in the dugout, “I wonder what some of the Cubs’ numbers would look like at our place?” Anthony Rizzo is a .159 hitter with no homers in 18 career games at AT&T Park, but he had no issues on a night when conditions were worse than they are most nights in San Francisco. Rizzo homered off Moore in his first two at-bats. 

— Rizzo will occasionally put a bunt down to beat the shift — he had an accidental bunt in his third at-bat — which the Giants have long wanted Brandon Belt to do. Belt pushed one away from the shift in the sixth, and even though it was too close to pitcher Kyle Hendricks, the throw was off and Belt reached second. One of those a week would open up a few more holes. 

— This lineup has made a habit of making mediocre and downright bad pitchers look good, and the actual good ones are taking advantage, too. A night after Jon Lester recorded his first complete game of the year, Hendricks threw seven innings for the first time.