Giants

Giants tab ZitoBumgarner to begin; Vogelsong in Game 7

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Giants tab ZitoBumgarner to begin; Vogelsong in Game 7

SAN FRANCISCO It was a phone call that Giants managerBruce Bochy couldnt have been prouder to make: He was going to tell Barry Zitothat the honor would be his to start Game 1 of the World Series.

There was just one problem.

Zito left his cell phone at the ballpark.

Thats why I was holding off announcing it, Bochy said onTuesday. But I think we all knew that Barry was starting, and I think he had agood idea. He was ecstatic. He was proud, honored that we have the trust in himto start Game 1.

Bochy didnt leave any mystery with the rest of hisrotation, either. Madison Bumgarner will start Game 2 on Thursday at AT&TPark, with Ryan Vogelsong going in Game 3 at Detroits Comerica Park and MattCain taking the ball in Game 4.
RELATED: Giants announce World Series rotation

Tim Lincecum will work out of the bullpen, where he madesuch a huge impact in the NL Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Said Lincecum: Weve been doing it this way so far, so whychange it? Im just excited to see another packed house. Im sure our fans aretasting it already.

Bochy could have selected Lincecum to start Game 2. But hesaid Bumgarner, who has gotten tagged ever since late August and got bouncedfrom the NLCS rotation, made progress in two side sessions. And Lincecum wouldbe much more versatile and valuable in a relief role than Bumgarner, who has noexperience pitching out of the bullpen.

Madison has had a break, which we wanted to give him,Bochy said. Its allowed him to get some bullpens in, work on some things. Asfar as Timmy, we just think hes better served for this club at this pointhelping us out of the bullpen. He gives us another weapon there. Hesresilient. I can use him back-to-back days. I can use him three or fourinnings, if necessary. If something happens, I can start him. So we thinkthats the best way to go right now.

Bochy had no qualms with going lefty-lefty, righty-righty.It comes down to executing pitches, no matter what side it comes from. Zito andBumgarner have differing styles, too.

Here was the most important factor in the decision to startBumgarner in Gmae 2 against Tigers right-hander Doug Fister, though: Bochy andpitching coach Dave Righetti had to be convinced that the 23-year-old foundsomething authentic in his mechanics that would keep him from throwinghittable, flat pitches over the plate.

Bumgarner looked at video with Righetti and realized that hewas over-rotating.

And that was causing a lot of other problems, Bumgarnersaid. Ive always been a guy who closes off some, but it was too much.Throwing that way causes a lot more stress and causes me to tire out a littlefaster.

About his session on Saturday, Bumgarner said, I think wevegot things straightened out. I do feel better. The stuff feels better. Thebreaking ball feels sharper. But the only way to be sure is to get into gamespeed.

If game speed is too much, the Timmy Tourniquet will bethere for Bochy assuming Lincecum isnt needed for multiple innings behindZito in Wednesday nights opener against Justin Verlander.

There was one more interesting wrinkle in Bochys rotation:He could have flip-flopped his Nos. 3-4 starters, giving Cain the ball in Game3 to line him up for a potential Game 7. Cain already owns victories in theGiants two winner-take-all games this postseason, after all.

But it wasnt lost on Giants coaches that Cains fastballrode up in the zone and he relied heavily on his defense while throwing 5 23shutout innings against the Cardinals in Game 7 on Monday. Vogelsongs stuff,by comparison, has been filthy in all three of his postseason starts.

So Cain will only make one start in this series. But he'll also get an extra day of rest before taking the ball in Game 4 againstright-hander Max Scherzer. And Vogelsong will drawright-hander Anibal Sanchez, who has mystified the Giants over his career especially at AT&T Park, where he is 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA in three careerstarts.

If Vogelsong gets the last start, we have no problem withthat, Bochy said. I know Matt has worked hard, hes got a lot of innings. Ididnt think we needed to flip-flop the two, to be honest, the way Vogey isthrowing.

But Game 7 is an eon away. Its all about Zito and Verlanderin Game 1 and yes, Bochy finally got word to his veteran left-hander that hedbe pitching.

I couldnt be happier for him, Bochy said. It says a lotabout his mental toughness, his makeup. For him to keep grinding and trying toget better, I was really proud to tell him, Im glad to hand you the ball onthe first game, with all hes been through and the way hes handled it. Itsbeen off the charts.

Two years ago, Bochy left Zito off all three playoffrosters. This year, he told another Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum, that hewouldnt be in the rotation.

Oh, without question, its one of the most difficult thingsyou have to do as a manager, said Bochy, particularly when youre talking to astar player, a guy whos won a Cy Young Award and wants to be out there and whosbeen there all year for you.

I think the only way you handle it is to be straightforwardwith him and tell him what youre thinking, whether its a veteran or a youngplayer. It still bothers you a little bit because you know how much heshurting and maybe even embarrassed.

You do think about his feelings. Its something that has tobe done, and you move on. But again, how theyve dealt with it was one of themore impressive things Ive seen from a veteran player.

Said Zito: Hes always handled me very professional, alwayscommunicated, and sometimes the truth was not what I wanted to hear. But it wasthe truth, and other times hes said things that felt good to me. Hes alwaysbeen a great guy personally and a great manager from a players perspective.

It was Zitos heroic Game 5 start at Busch Stadium that keptthe Giants alive and brought the NLCS back to San Francisco. After thatinspiring outing, his teammates have every confidence hell bring the samestuff and poise to the mound against a power-packed Tigers lineup.

Its just complete retribution, Lincecum said. Im reallyclose to him and I know hes helped me through what Ive gone through. Hes soselfless. Hes always going about his work, trying to be better no matter thesituation. This has been a big week for him and its been fun to watch. I lookup to him like hes a big brother. It was pretty emotional for me to watch himpitch in St. Louis. Im just really, really proud of him.

Zito played on five playoff teams in Oakland but this is hisfirst time on a World Series roster.

I feel like Ive grown up in this game, you know? Zitosaid. When I came up in Oakland, I felt like I was a boy in this game. Youhave talent and you just keep going to the next level and all of the suddenpeople are looking at you and theres fans chanting your name and stuff, andyou dont know why. And then, to mature in this game is a big deal.

That process is a huge part of becoming a free agent, goingto a new team, signing a big deal and dealing with everything that comes withthat.

So I feel like an adult in the game now.

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

***

Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”