Giants a little bit short of everything

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Giants a little bit short of everything

BOX SCORE

Pablo Sandoval sat on the dirt, his legs forming a perfect 90-degree angle as he blew a gum bubble and silently bemoaned his short-hopped throw to first on Allen Craigs seventh-inning single. The visual shrieked futility, resignation, and a long and painful winter examining what happens when a good baseball team finds itself a little bit short of everything in October.At least that is the appearance as the shards of St. Louis 8-3 win over the Giants in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series are picked over. The Giants didnt pitch enough when it mattered, hit enough when it mattered, or field enough the one time it really mattered. They were just short of okay, when even okay is insufficient.And because there is just enough grumbling to go around, the 3-1 deficit they face going into Barry Zitos start seems well nigh insurmountable.And the problems seem to move from game to game to game. In Game 1, Madison Bumgarner got kicked around the lot, and the Giants got close but stopped hitting after the fourth inning. In Game 3, they hit plenty but scored only one. And in Game 4, Tim Lincecum couldnt find his fastball, Hector Sanchez couldnt find a short hop from the outfield and their nine leadoff hitters could manage only one hit, and that well after the game was competitively extinguished.So of course theyre down, 3-1. They should be down, 3-1. Their play says so. And if there is a rally in them (and only four of 33 teams have gone down 3-1 in an LCS and won), their play across the board must be, well, less like what theyre doing now.And all they have to claim as their own momentum-builders are the memories of the Cincinnati series, and Zitos left arm. They believe fine, but they have no evidence to back it up.Their offense was two homers by the freshly de-goated Hunter Pence, and the struggling Sandoval. But the rest of their work product suffered again.And it starts with Lincecum, who used 91 pitches to get through 22 hitters, but couldnt navigate the two jams he did create for himself one in the first, that was capped by Matt Hollidays line single and Craig's subsequent sacrifice fly, and one in the fifth that finished with RBI singles from Holliday and Yadier Molina.The first put the Giants in a hole. The second piled dirt on top of them. And the culprit, ultimately, was a fastball that refused to behave as it once did, or as he desired. It either avoided the strike zone or got hit when it achieved it, and only when he changed his pitch selection did things improve.There wasnt a lack of confidence in any of my pitches or a (lack of) conviction, he said in his typical slightly less than fully audible monotone. They just werent hitting the spots I needed them to.In addition, throwing 25 pitches in the first and 19 in the second set him on a course for a quick outing, which the Giants needed the way they needed a dugout flood.That second inning was a little bit laborious, he said, referring to the only inning in which the Cardinals got baserunners who didnt score. But that third and fourth was a little bit better. I thought I was going to carry it a little bit further in the game, but like I said, I ran into some bumps in the fifth.The biggest bump was Hollidays single, which scored Matt Carpenter from second after Angel Pagans throw, which was on line but a bit short, skipped past catcher Hector Sanchez, allowing Carpenter to evade being thrown out at the plate by about three full seconds. When Molina followed two batters later with his single, Lincecum was done.And the bullpen, being asked to juggle cleavers while those around them dont, cratered, allowing two more runs in the sixth and seventh, and rendering Sandovals ninth-inning home run inconsequential.Just not quite enough after every turn of the game the Giants story in this series. And now Barry Zito tries to defy all that with an outing as good as Ryan Vogelsongs or Matt Cains. And an outing that might inspire some actual hits in important moments. And a defensive play that must be made at a critical juncture.Thats a lot to ask a pitcher, but the Giants have been trying to win this series with two starters, two hitters and a lineup that defies tweaking. So far, they have gotten what such a manpower shortage deserves, and they are out of mulligans, excuses and speeches.

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte died early Sunday from a traffic accident in his native Dominican Republic.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played for several Major League teams, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, and was most recently playing in the Korean league.

Marte was playing in the Dominican winter league with the Aguilas Cibaenas team.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.”