Giants seek sixth straight win behind Bumgarner

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Giants seek sixth straight win behind Bumgarner

Sept. 16, 2011

GIANTS (80-70) vs.
COLORADO (70-79)

Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on NBC Bay Area

DENVER (AP) -- Madison Bumgarner has arguably been San Francisco's top starting pitcher over the last three weeks, but with close to 200 innings pitched and the Giants' postseason hopes dwindling, the team is considering shutting him down to preserve his arm.

In what could be one of his final outings, Bumgarner looks to win a career-high fifth straight start when he faces the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.

San Francisco (80-70) won its fifth in a row with an 8-5 victory in Thursday's series opener, preventing Arizona from moving closer to clinching the NL West. This surge might be too little too late for the defending World Series champions, however, as the Giants are seven games back with 12 to play.

"We've got a chance," Pablo Sandoval said. "You never know what's going to happen."

Bumgarner (11-12, 3.33 ERA) has done his best to keep the Giants in the playoff picture, recording a 1.30 ERA in winning his last four starts, while striking out 34 and posting a 0.94 WHIP over 27 2-3 innings. Against the Dodgers on Sunday, he allowed a run and three hits with eight strikeouts in five innings of an 8-1 victory, improving to 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA since the All-Star break.

"I'm just making better pitches and having a little better luck at the same time," said Bumgarner, who was 4-9 with a 3.87 before the break. "I don't know if I've gotten stronger. I still feel good. I'm not worried about wins and losses for me. The biggest thing is innings. You want to stay out there and pitch late. That's probably the most important thing."

In his first full season in the majors, the 22-year-old left-hander has amassed 186 2-3 innings, and the Giants plan to take a cautious approach.

"I just like where he's at right now," Bruce Bochy said.

Bumgarner has been solid in his two starts against the Rockies (70-79) this year, recording a 1.38 ERA, but three total runs of support has left him with an 0-1 record.

The Giants had no trouble generating offense in the opener, pounding out 13 hits and scoring eight runs for the third time in five games. They had reached the eight-run mark in only three of their previous 89 contests.

Sandoval led the way Thursday, becoming the 25th Giant to hit for the cycle. The All-Star third baseman is batting .524 with two homers, four doubles and seven RBIs during the winning streak.

URBAN: Giants' Sandoval a true sports hero

San Francisco's suddenly potent offense now tries to make things tough on Alex White (2-1, 8.18), who has allowed nine home runs and has a 1.73 WHIP over 22 innings in four starts for the Rockies.

Five of those homers came against Cincinnati on Saturday. The right-hander, acquired from Cleveland as part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, permitted three other hits and seven runs in five innings, but was bailed out by his offense and earned his second straight victory in a 12-7 win.

Troy Tulowitzki (hip) and Todd Helton (back tightness) each missed their second straight game in the opener, and it doesn't seem likely either will play Friday. Their replacements, shortstop Tommy Field and first baseman Jordan Pacheco, both made errors Thursday.

The Rockies are 3-6 without Tulowitzki and 9-16 without Helton.

Cody Ross joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

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AP

Cody Ross joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — While rehabbing an injury in 2014, Cody Ross played for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. When he walked to the plate, Ross got a standing ovation. 

“I absolutely didn’t expect that,” Ross said. “I really didn’t know that there was such a big Giants following there. It was pretty neat. I got teary-eyed. It was incredible.”

That experience, along with recent trips to Napa and Pebble Beach, showed Ross that his contributions to the 2010 title run will never be forgotten in Northern California, Nevada, or anywhere else you’ll find Giants fans. This season, Ross will once again be in front of an adoring fan base. The longtime Major League outfielder will work with NBC Sports Bay Area as an analyst on Giants pre- and post-game shows.

“I’ve always had some interest in doing that,” Ross said. “I can’t say that was the first thing that came to mind when I was a player, but now that I’m out of the game and looking for different avenues to stay in the game, TV is probably the next best thing besides being on the field.”

Ross, 36, actually has been on the field this spring. He has worked with the Giants as a camp instructor, paying particular attention to the outfielders, naturally. The Giants are hopeful that Ross can help a promising group of minor league outfielders, and he has spent much of his time this spring working with infielders — Aaron Hill, Jae-Gyun Hwang and others — who are trying to add left field to the resume.  

Getting back on the field was something Ross was eager to do, and the Giants were the perfect fit since they train near his home north of Scottsdale. Ross still is inundated with autograph seekers at Scottsdale Stadium, despite the fact that it’s been six years since he wore orange and black. When he visits San Francisco, the greetings tend to be the same. Fans constantly approach Ross to shake hands and simply say “thank you for what you did in 2010.”

“That means a lot,” Ross said. “They don’t have to do that. It just kind of goes to show how amazing the fan base is and how passionate they are. They don’t forget.”

It would be hard to. Ross joined the Giants on a waiver claim in August of 2010 and ended up as a key bat during the title run, hitting .294 in the playoffs with five homers and 10 RBI. He was the MVP of the NLCS. 

Ross played one more season with the Giants before stints with the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and A’s. Throughout his career, he said, he would watch pregame shows to try and get updates on opposing teams. He'll get on the other side of the camera for the first time in late April. 

"I’m excited," Ross said. "It should be a fun experience, and it's going to be nice to be back in the Bay Area."

Javier Lopez joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

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AP

Javier Lopez joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Javier Lopez walked through the clubhouse the other day casually flipping a weighted ball into the air. He looked like a left-hander getting ready for another season, and Lopez will in fact spend plenty of time in San Francisco this year. He won’t be on the field, though. He’ll be watching it. 

Lopez will join NBC Sports Bay Area as a studio analyst this season, adding to a schedule that also will include a fair amount of time in the booth with Duane Kuiper. The transition is one Lopez has been thinking about for years, and he said he used to do mock broadcasts from the bullpen in order to mix it up and keep his attention on the game. 

[RELATED: Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage]

“It’s something I definitely was considering toward the end of my career,” Lopez said. “Being recently retired and knowing a good amount of the guys that are on this team still, I think it’ll be a different perspective that I’ll be able to give.”

Lopez is the second left-handed reliever and Core Four member to jump into TV work in the first year of retirement. Jeremy Affeldt joined the network last season and the two will split the road games that Mike Krukow will miss this season, with Affeldt focusing primarily on NL Central series and Lopez handling most of the East Coast trips. 

To prepare, Lopez, who has had two stints in camp as an instructor, has been chatting with former teammates about the intricacies of playing other positions and taking at-bats. He has bounced ideas off players like Buster Posey, but he’s also looking forward to providing the unique perspective of a side-arming left-handed reliever

“Even with the pitching staff, I see things through a different lens than most people,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from everybody.”

Lopez was a clubhouse leader throughout his time with the Giants and he was a co-winner of the Willie Mac Award last season, his seventh in San Francisco. When the postseason was over, Lopez wasn’t sure he would be taking the TV step right away. He made a small list of contenders he would play for in 2017, with a focus on trying to win a fifth ring. 

“There were a couple of phases for me in particular,” he said. “I think I was thinking about knowing for sure that I wasn’t going to be a San Francisco Giant again. That was tough, but in another sense, this isn’t my first team that I’ve been on. I know how the business works. They have a lot of hard throwers as they’ve shown this spring and that’s the way that baseball is trending in the bullpen. We knew that the opportunity here wasn’t going to be there, and I was okay with that. 

“There were some teams I really wanted to go to and some places that I wanted to play, but ultimately those places started filling up pretty quickly with the relievers. The opportunities were available and I could have played — there were offers out there — but I didn’t see myself in those uniforms. If my heart’s not in it, that’s not a good way to go.”