Giants soak up their first Game 7 win in franchise history


Giants soak up their first Game 7 win in franchise history


SAN FRANCISCO It was a moment to soak in, and be soakedin.

Small lakes formed between third base and shortstop. Waterdrained in sheets from both dugouts. The Giants were one out away fromcompleting their second three-game resurrection this postseason, and claimingtheir fifth NL pennant in 55 seasons since leaving the Polo Grounds, and allanyone could think was, Get me inside and out of this rain!

No big deal, bench coach Ron Wotus said. We were allgoing to get wet after the game, so it didnt matter.

The Giants did make it back to their clubhouse after SergioRomo got a pop-up from Matt Holliday, series MVP Marco Scutaro saw it throughthe fat drops and then he punched the sky as they celebrated a 9-0 victory overthe St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park.

BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: The Giants win the pennant

Then it was time to get good and soaked indoors. Sergio Romoscampered about, holding a souvenir newspaper and yelling, The Giants win thepennant! Ryan Vogelsong got blasted with eye-stinging champagne as a ski visorthe size of night-vision goggles sat atop his head. Outside the ballpark,thousands of car horns blared and a city buzzed once again over their focused,passionate team that held onto belief when everyone else let it slip like acurveball in the rain.

There was no dampening this party.

That just didnt make any sense, said winning pitcher MattCain, and we think he was talking about the rain, and not a team that has nowrattled off six win-or-go-home victories against the Cardinals and CincinnatiReds to tie the 1985 Kansas City Royals for the most in a single postseason.

They did it by outscoring the Cardinals 20-1 over the finalthree games a Barry Zito gem at Busch Stadium that proved to be the turningpoint, followed by determined outings from Vogelsong and Cain in front of theloudest crowd in baseball.

They did it with a bullpen that allowed a grand total of tworuns over the six elimination games.

They did it by relying on Scutaro, who hit .500 to earn NLCSMVP honors, and Pablo Sandoval, who was at his irrepressible best when theGiants needed him most.

And they did it by refusing to let anyone count them out.

Were a little numb right now, to be honest, with our backsagainst the wall as long as theyve been and to do this, said Giants managerBruce Bochy, after his gang of Gideons blew their horns. This is a specialgroup. They have that never say die attitude. They didnt want to go home,and they found a way to get it done.

These guys just got on track at the right time. Its allabout pitching. It starts on the hill. And I think Zito just sent a sense ofconfidence throughout the staff that we can do this, and they followed eachother.

Bochy will have to figure out a Game 1 starter to oppose theTigers incredible Justin Verlander (can there be any doubt its Zito?) as wellas a designated hitter for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series at Detroit.Those are probably not the questions he had in mind when the Giants arrived inCincinnati two weeks ago, down 0-2 in the series. When Bochy presented the lineupcard to Reds manager Dusty Baker that day, he said something along the linesof, Were embarrassed. We hope we can give you half a game today.

The Giants somehow managed to win a Game 3 in which HomerBailey allowed one hit and struck out 10, and then rattle off two more in aballpark where the Reds hadnt been swept in a three-game series all season.And after losing three of the first four to the Cardinals, the Giants had to doit all over again.

The Cardinals had their own magical ability to cheat death,with six elimination victories over this postseason and last. Yet the hitterswho put together so many smart, hungry and amazing at-bats to erase a 6-0deficit in Washington were never able to land a kill shot against the Giants.

By the end, it was obvious: The Giants had taken aprofessional, polished opponent and gotten into their domes. They found theirweakness an appetite for high fastballs and overfed them like Perigord geese.

Theres adjustments all the time, said Giants catcher BusterPosey, and I just think the pitchers did a great job making thoseadjustments.

Not only did the Giants win the first Game 7 in theirall-time history, but they clinched their first postseason series in front ofthe home fans since the 2002 NLCS also against the Cardinals.

Mike Matheny was the St. Louis catcher who couldnt reachback to tag David Bell as the Giants walked off with the pennant. This time,Matheny was the Cardinals rookie manager delivering the concession speech inthe interview room.

Its about the team thats hot and we got on a coldstreak, Matheny said. We got to this point by being the team thats hot, butwe just couldnt make it happen these last two games. We tip our hats to theGiants. They had all aspects of their game going, and capitalized onopportunities.

Kenny Lofton was the player whose single brought home Bell.On Monday night, Lofton threw the ceremonial first pitch. But unlike thatseries, there were no late lead changes, no late-inning drama. The team that scoredfirst won six of seven games.

And so the Giants didnt merely take possession of the NLpennant by badgering Kyle Lohses flat stuff and hit-me slider in threeinnings. They purse snatched it.

And they didnt just pitch their way through this three-gamegauntlet. They mesmerized the Cardinals so thoroughly that when Matt Cain mademistakes at the belt, he didnt pay for them. An absolutely masterful defensivegame ensured it, with shortstop Brandon Crawfords backpedaling, leaping catchof Lohses line drive in the second inning serving as the cover art for thatalbum.

That, said Cain, was a real, real bad pitch by me.

Crawford knew it was over his head. And if he didnt catchit, he knew two runs would score to put the Cardinals ahead.

"I didnt think I could get it, Crawford said. I couldntreally turn. I just had to go straight up.

Everything slowed down. You feel like youre in the air alittle longer than you probably are.

By the end, after Scutaro raised his NLCS average back to .500and Sandoval barreled up a few more pitches and Hunter Pence hit thefreakiest bases-clearing, broken-bat hit youll ever see, only the finishingtouches remained.

And as a sellout crowd prepared to erupt in celebration, theskies opened up.

Javier Lopez stood on the mound in the ninth, gamely trying to keep theball dry. Infielders stepped out of rapidly forming puddles. At second base,Scutaro tipped back his head, closed his eyes and opened his mouth, in acinematic pose.

It was the cleansing sensation of freedom. Their backs are not against the wall any longer. Now theWorld Series is coming to San Francisco, and the Giants are free to move in anydirection.

The best part was how our fans were cheering it, Pencesaid. They were cheering the downpour.

At shortstop, Crawford, with no kayak at his convenience,wondered how he would ever manage to field a ground ball and throw to firstbase.

It kind of summed up the whole postseason, Crawford said. Itnever rains like that in San Francisco. A little mist, maybe. Theres standingwater all over the place. I didnt know if Id have been able to make a play.

Said Vogelsong, as he watched the Old Testament-quality storm from the relative security of the dugout: Iwas praying, Please, please, let us get a pop up, or a strikeout. Please.

Sergio Romo got Matt Holliday, of all people, to hit one inthe air. Scutaro saw a speck of white through a sky of water.

Please, Ive got to catch this ball, Scutaro told himself.I got kind of lucky. When he hit it, the rain stopped a little bit. A coupleminutes earlier, maybe I dont catch it.

He did, and the Giants drenched themselves outdoors, indoors,and everywhere in between.

Dodgers trade top pitching prospect to Rays for 2B Forsythe

Dodgers trade top pitching prospect to Rays for 2B Forsythe

The Dodgers' months-long search for a second baseman is over.

Los Angeles has acquired infielder Logan Forsythe from the Rays, the team announced Monday afternoon.

The Dodgers are sending top pitching prospect Jose De Leon to Tampa Bay.

In 127 games for the Rays in 2016, the 30-year-old Forsythe hit .264/.333/.444 with 24 doubles, 20 home runs and 52 RBI.

Forsythe is set to make $7 million in 2017 and has a team option worth $8.5 million or a $1 million buyout for 2018.

De Leon, 24, made his major league debut for the Dodgers during the 2016 season. In four starts, he posted a 6.35 ERA while striking out 15 batters in 17 innings. In 16 startts for Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2016, De Leon registered a 2.61 ERA and struck out 111 batters in just 86.1 innings.

A native of Puerto Rico, De Leon was recently ranked as the Dodgers' No. 3 prospect Baseball America.

For most of the offseason, the Dodgers had been linked to Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, but the two sides couldn't come together on a deal.

Spring training to be slightly shortened starting in 2018

Spring training to be slightly shortened starting in 2018

NEW YORK -- For everyone who thinks spring training is too long, help is on the way - a little, anyway.

Spring training will be shortened by two days starting in 2018, when new restrictions in Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement take effect on game times for regular-season getaway days.

The voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players will be 43 days before the major league opener instead of 45, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press. For other players, the date will be 38 days ahead instead of 40.

The change was tied to spreading each team's 162 regular-season games over 187 days, up from 183.

Players' association Assistant General Counsel Matt Nussbaum said the union's goal was to create more days off during the season "in a way that doesn't just chew up offseason days."

"We have heard for years and I'm sure we will continue to hear that spring training is too long, that guys are really ready to go well before opening day, but I think what the commissioner's office would tell you is that there are big challenges for the clubs in substantially shortening spring training because they have various commitments to put on a certain number of games," he said Monday.

Late arrival times ahead of regular-season series openers also were addressed.

Starting in 2018, the latest possible start time on getaway days when either team is traveling to a game in another city the next day or a home off day will be calculated by subtracting the time of the flight over 2½ hours from 7 p.m.

There are cutouts for Sunday night games broadcast by ESPN and games after June 1 at Texas' current home ballpark - where the Rangers avoid afternoons for much of the season because of the heat.

Another new rule for 2018 says no game in the original schedule may be set for before 5 p.m. when a team played the previous night in another city starting 7 p.m. or later. There are exceptions involving flights of 90 minutes or less for home openers and holiday weekends. Current cutouts are carried over for up to six exceptions each season at Chicago's Wrigley Field and rescheduled games involving flights of 90 minutes or less.

"We fully recognize that our players play a very demanding schedule, and we're always looking for ways to ease the burden on players while at the same time scheduling games at a convenient time for our fans to watch them," MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said.

Sunday night games on holiday weekends followed by afternoon games still seem likely to occur.

"We have contracts with various national broadcast partners that limit our ability to schedule day games in certain instances," Halem said.

Nussbaum said if the players had their way, there would be "a flat rule that says all getaway games are day games" but understand why that would cause difficulty for teams.

"There's still going to be some challenges in the schedule," he said, "but we think what we've done with these two prongs is pare back the most egregious of the travel."

As part of the agreement, one game in the major leagues may be scheduled each year on the Thursday after the All-Star Game starting in 2018.