Instant Replay: Braves 7, Giants 3


Instant Replay: Braves 7, Giants 3


SAN FRANCISCO Cant win em all. Isnt that what they say?

After the Giants had played just about as well as they can play in winning seven of eight and five in a row, the streak ended with a thud, a 7-3 loss to the Braves on Saturday at AT&T Park.

The Giants did a little of everything wrong. Madison Bumgarner had a shaky outing, including trouble with the opposing pitcher. The Giants offense was stymied by lefty Mike Minor and the hitters didnt wake up until he was out of the game.

And then, just when a quiet afternoon turned exciting on a Gregor Blancos two-run double that brought them within a run in the seventh, the Giants bullpen had an eighth-inning meltdown that put them back in a three-run hole.

Starting pitching report
Bumgarner, who will have to wait until his next start to try to become the Giants first left-handed 15-game winner since Shawn Estes in 2000, was pretty good except for a few costly lapses.

Bumgarner issued four walks, equaling his season high, and none was more regrettable than a leadoff walk to Minor in the third. Walking any pitcher is bad, but walking Minor is truly unforgivable. He came into the game batting .024. He had one hit and one walk in 45 plate appearances this season.

Bumgarner walked him, and then an out later he walked Martin Prado. Then he missed his location to Jason Heyward, and it really cost him. Catcher Buster Posey was set up outside for the 1-0 fastball to Heyward, but Bumgarner left it over the inner half of the plate, right where Heyward likes it, and he jacked it over the right-field fence for his second homer in as many days.

After that, Bumgarner didnt give up another run until the seventh when he gave up a double off the wall to Minor. Yes, his second hit of the year. Michael Bourn then singled up the middle to drive in Minor with the fourth run of the game.

Bullpen report
The eighth inning was the killer. Just after the bullpen had escaped a jam in the seventh and the Giants hitters had rallied to within a run in the bottom of the inning, Clay Hensley started the eighth. He allowed three of the four batters he faced to reach base, and he left with the bases loaded.

Jeremy Affeldt got the first out, but then he walked Michael Bourn and Martin Prado, forcing in two runs and allowing the Braves to push their lead back to three runs.

Affeldt has given up six hits and six walks in four innings in his past six games.

Eric Hacker then gave up another run in the ninth.

Before that, George Kontos and Jose Mijares had done their job in the seventh. Kontos would have retired the only batter he faced if not for his own error. Mijares then got Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, the Braves dangerous lefties, to hold the Braves at four runs.

At the plate
The Giants didnt do much with Minor, and they probably got a break when Braves
manager Fredi Gonzalez gave his lefty a quick hook in the seventh inning.

Minor had a 2.29 ERA in his previous eight starts and hed stymied the Giants on one run and four hits with two outs in the seventh. Rookie Francisco Peguero, who had not looked good in the first two at-bats of his career, was due. But Gonzalez pulled Minor in favor of right-hander Chad Durbin, and that prompted Bruce Bochy to bring former Brave, Blanco, off the bench. He delivered a two-run double to get the Giants back into the game.

That hit woke up a Giants team that had been virtually silent against Minor.

Marco Scutaro singled in the first, but then the next 11 Giants hitters went down before they got a rally started when Hunter Pence was hit by a pitch. Joaquin Arias then smoked a double into left on a pretty good pitch, up and in, by the way to move Pence to third. Belts well-placed grounder drove in Pence and moved Arias to third with one out, but the Giants couldnt get Arias in.

Peguero had the chance to knock in Arias simply by putting a ball into play, but he struck out.

Even sizzling Angel Pagan, who had four hits on Friday night and an eight-game hitting streak, went hitless.

In the field
Scutaro had a great day at second base. His biggest play was a diving stop of a Heyward grounder with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning. He also made a nice play to get a force in the seventh, and he ranged over the middle to start a double play in the fourth inning.

Arias, at shortstop, had a day when nothing was routine. He had to go into the hole in the first to try to nab Martin Prados hot smash, and it got past him for a hit. Then he went over the middle to make the play on Paul Janish in the second. In the seventh he went back to his right against Janish, and this time he made a nice play, with Belt making a nice play on the one-hop throw. Arias also couldnt handle a throw from Posey on a stolen base attempt in the fifth. Poseys throw was wide, and the catcher was charged with the error, but Arias got his glove on it.

The ball found Peguero in a huge spot in his first inning in the big leagues. With two on and two outs, David Ross smoked one toward the left field fence, and Peguero had to race back and make a nice running catch to save at least two runs.

Kontos tried to hurry to get the lead runner on Prados dribbler in the seventh. Instead, he mishandled the ball for an error and he got nothing.

It was the 148th consecutive regular season sellout at AT&T Park, with an announced crowd of 41,679.

Up Next
The Giants finish this homstand yep, thats it, just four games with a 5:06 p.m. start against the Braves. The game was scheduled for 1:05 but it was moved back for ESPNs Sunday Night Baseball. The pitching matchup is a good one, with Tim Lincecum (7-13, 5.30) taking the mound against Tim Hudson (12-4, 3.69). A national TV appearance will certainly put a big spotlight on Lincecums struggles. Although the season ERA is still ugly, Lincecu has a 3.03 ERA in his past five starts.

Crawford strains right groin in eighth inning of Giants' 2-1 loss to Dodgers

Crawford strains right groin in eighth inning of Giants' 2-1 loss to Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Crawford was always going to miss the final two games of this series to attend the funeral of his sister-in-law. The Giants are now hoping an MRI result shows that Crawford won’t miss any time beyond his three days on bereavement leave. 

Crawford pulled up with a right groin strain as he rounded first on a base hit in the eighth. After jogging a bit in the outfield, he was pulled from the game. 

“It tightened up,” Crawford said. “I haven’t really felt anything like that before. I’ve never really had anything like this before. It just felt tight. I didn’t feel a pop or anything, and from what I hear, that’s good news.”

Crawford’s liner off Kenley Jansen sent Buster Posey from first to third. Cody Bellinger's throw went into third and Crawford was busting it for second when his leg shut down. He said he could feel the pain in his groin as he tried to run it off. 

“(Trainer Dave Groeschner) told me it wasn’t a great idea to try and push it,” Crawford said. 

Ordinarily, the Giants would send Crawford for an MRI on Wednesday, but he is flying down to Los Angeles for two days of services. Crawford originally told manager Bruce Bochy that he could be back in time for Friday’s game, but the Giants — already playing without Denard Span and with a short bench — were planning to put Crawford on the bereavement list and call up an extra position player. 

Eduardo Nuñez moved over to short in the ninth and he’s Crawford’s primary backup. Christian Arroyo, called up Monday, can also play the position. The Giants have Kelby Tomlinson and Orlando Calixte on the 40-man and one of them is likely to join the team Wednesday. 

--- Arroyo and Bellinger are two of the NL West’s top prospects, and they got their first big league hits on the same night. Arroyo got a first-pitch fastball at the letters from Clayton Kershaw and roped it into left field. 

“I figured he would come at me,” Arroyo said. “I said, ‘Hey man, see a heater and take a good swing at it.’ I just envisioned getting (a big league hit) but I didn’t think it would be off a guy the caliber of Kershaw. In the moment I was excited. That’s something you don’t forget.”

Arroyo’s family won’t forget it, either. His parents and two younger siblings were here and they went nuts as Arroyo rounded first. That’s always a cool moment. 

--- Ty Blach has three big league hits and all of them are off Kershaw. 

“Sometimes you just swing hard and get lucky, I guess,” he said. 

There’s only one active pitcher who has more hits against Kershaw than Blach. That’s Madison Bumgarner, who has taken him deep twice. A year ago, Bumgarner walked into the video room and asked Matt Duffy if he wanted advice on hitting Kershaw. On Tuesday, he gave Blach some advice. 

“Madison before the game came up and said he’s going to throw you up and in because he threw it low and away last (year),” Blach said. “I was looking for a pitch in that vicinity.”

Bumgarner knows Kershaw well. Blach got a fastball up and he knocked it over a drawn-in outfield for a double. 

--- We’re 10 paragraphs into this story without a score. The Giants lost 2-1, but it’s hard to dissect this one too much. When the Dodgers get 25 outs from Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, they’re going to win that game nine out of 10 times. 

Kershaw lowered his season ERA to 2.29. The Giants gave him a little bit of trouble early, but he turned it on in the middle innings. 

“He settled in and he was as tough as he normally is,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The thing you hope is to create some chances. We had a couple.”

The eventual winning run came across on a strange play in the fourth. With runners on the corners, Adrian Gonzalez hit a bouncer to first. Posey looked Justin Turner back to third and then threw to Crawford at second for one out. Crawford spun and fired a strike home to try and get Turner, who had taken off. The throw skipped in the dirt and Nick Hundley couldn’t handle it. Turner made it 2-1, and that was that. 

Bochy said he had no problem with how that play went down. All the decisions were right, it was just a tough double-play to pull off. 

“I’d like to say I should have made a better throw but I got rid of it as fast as I could and I put as much on it as I could,” Crawford said. 

The Giants were a couple inches behind Turner on Tuesday. On Monday, they were just ahead of him, with Posey picking him off second to end the game. It’s been that type of series between these two.

--- I saw a lot of grumbling on Twitter about Yasmani Grandal pulling balls back into the strike zone in the late innings. Be careful what you wish for, Giants fans. Posey might be the best pitch-framer in the game. Any change that would keep guys like Grandal from fooling umps would hurt the Giants more than most.


Instant Replay: Kershaw quiets Giants again, Dodgers win 2-1

Instant Replay: Kershaw quiets Giants again, Dodgers win 2-1


SAN FRANCISCO — After taking the opener of this four-game series, manager Bruce Bochy said he felt the win was a huge one. 

“We’ve got our hands full tomorrow,” Bochy said Monday night. “We know it.”

Yes, as always with Clayton Kershaw, they did. 

The left-hander was once again dominant at AT&T Park, throwing seven sharp innings before turning the ball over to a bullpen that got four outs from Kenley Jansen. The closer wrapped up a 2-1 Dodgers win. As with Monday’s game, this one was a pitcher’s duel. 

Ty Blach threw 11 shutout innings against the Dodgers as a rookie and he opened up with three strong frames Tuesday. He also got the offense in gear, lashing a double over a drawn-in outfield in the third for his third career hit off Kershaw. Hunter Pence’s hustle turned a grounder to second into an infield hit, allowing Buster Posey to bat in the inning. Posey didn’t let his good friend’s effort go to waste, bouncing a single up the middle for the night’s first run. 

The Dodgers came right back to take the lead. Corey Seager opened the fourth with a walk and Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig singled. With runners on the corners and the game tied, Adrian Gonzalez hit a grounder right at Posey at first. He spun and fed Brandon Crawford for one out and Turner broke for home. Crawford’s throw came up a few inches short and Turner scored. 

Kershaw looked uncomfortable during an early at-bat, but he found his groove in the middle innings. He needed just seven pitches to get through the fifth and eight to set the side down in the sixth. After George Kontos left the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, Kershaw worked around a two-out single in the bottom of the inning. 

The Dodgers called on Jansen with two outs in the eighth and he immediately ran into trouble. Posey singled and Crawford followed with a liner into left that came with a price. Crawford pulled up as he rounded first and was removed with an apparent right groin injury. 

Starting pitching report: Blach’s return to the rotation: 5 innings, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts. Because he hasn’t started since spring training, a rising pitch count knocked him out a bit early.

Bullpen report: Kontos screamed and pumped his fist after blowing Andrew Toles away to end the seventh. Cory Gearrin had put a pair of Dodgers on and an intentional walk of Cody Bellinger loaded them up.

At the plate: Christian Arroyo’s first big league hit was a first-inning single off the best pitcher in the world. Kershaw threw Arroyo a first-pitch fastball at the letters and he smoked it into left. Arroyo’s parents and young siblings arrived in San Francisco in time to watch the moment. 

In the field: Crawford did Crawford Things, including a running catch way out in left field to rob Gonzalez of a bloop single. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,329 human beings who tried the cell-phone-light rally with a runner on in the seventh. One pitch later, Pence grounded out. 

Up next: Johnny Cueto will try to get back on track. He had a 2.67 ERA in five starts against the Dodgers in his first season in the rivalry. Funky lefty Alex Wood goes for the other side.