Instant Replay: Dodgers 4, Giants 0

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Instant Replay: Dodgers 4, Giants 0

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Clayton Kershaw dealt the Giants their second consecutive shutout loss and dropped them into a tie with the Dodgers for first place in the N.L. West after a three-game sweep at home.Starting pitching report: Ryan Vogelsong was his usual razor-sharp self for three innings, but he needed to be at his best to match Kershaw and he was far from it in the series finale.Coming into Sundays game, Vogelsong boasted the best home ERA in the National League at 1.41. He lowered that mark with a nine-pitch 1-2-3 first inning and worked around a one-out single by Hanley Ramirez in the second with an inning-ending strike em out, throw em out double play. Vogelsong struck out Mark Ellis looking on a close call to end the third frame after issuing a one-out walk to A.J. Ellis.Vogelsong finished the third inning with just 41 pitches thrown on the afternoon, but needed another 37 just to make it through the fourth. After starting off Juan Rivera with three straight balls, Vogelsong eventually had to come in with a 3-1 fastball. Rivera responded with a clean single and Matt Kemp followed with a single of his own. Rivera advanced to third on Andre Ethiers deep fly to center, then scored on Hanley Ramirezs ground ball to third that the Giants almost turned into an inning-ending double play. Instead, Ramirez barely beat Ryan Theriots relay throw to collect his sixth RBI of the series and keep the inning alive. His hustle paid off even more when Marco Scutaros error and Luis Cruzs double led to a second Dodger run.For all the work Vogelsong did in the fourth inning, he enjoyed a much-needed rest in the fifth, as he used just six pitches to set down Ellis, Rivera and Kemp in order.The Dodgers wasted no time getting Vogelsong back in the stretch in the sixth, as Andre Ethier led off the inning with a single and, after Ramirez flew out to center, moved up on James Loneys single. Vogelsong struck out Cruz, then walked Ellis to load the bases for Kershaw. Kershaw didnt go down easy, taking Vogelsongs 101st pitch for a strike and a full count. The lanky lefty then fouled off two tough pitches before he struck out swinging to end the inning.Vogelsong turned in his 19th straight start of six innings or more to start the season, but those innings included six hits, three walks and two runs, one of which was earned. Vogelsong struck out five in the loss, his fifth of the year, and threw 104 pitches, 59 of which were strikes.Bullpen report: Clay Hensley relieved Vogelsong in the seventh inning and didnt last long, giving way to Jeremy Affeldt after sandwiching a fielders choice with two singles.Affeldt inherited Hensleys two baserunners and saved his bullpen-mate by getting Andre Ethier to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.Affeldt came back out for the eighth inning and started off with a strikeout of Ramirez, but gave up a double followed by a wild pitch and a single to let L.A.s lead increase to 3-0. Affeldt then walked Ellis and struck out Kershaw before giving way to George Kontos.Kontos, who put in a rough 1.2 innings of work in Saturdays loss, promptly gave up a single back up the middle to Ellis to put the Giants in a 4-0 hole. He left two runners in scoring position, though, when he induced a foul pop up from Rivera to end the inning.Santiago Casilla started the ninth inning but didnt finish it. The Giants closer got Kemp to ground out before giving up a double to Ethier. Casilla struck out Ramirez looking but Bruce Bochy still decided to turn to his lefty specialist Javier Lopez to face Loney. Lopez did his job, getting Loney to ground out to second and send the game to the bottom of the ninth.At the plate: San Franciscos bats were shut out for nine innings Saturday and didnt look any better in the series finale against Giant-killer Clayton Kershaw.Kershaw worked around an error and two singles in the second inning and was nearly flawless the rest of the way.The Giants came closest to erasing their scoreless streak in the second inning, when Angel Pagan reached on an error with one out. Kershaw picked off Pagan, though, making back-to-back singles from Marco Scutaro and Brandon Belt immediately after go for naught.Kershaw was in cruise control from the third inning on, mixing in his devastating breaking balls with an overpowering fastball to keep the Giants hitters off balance.After the two singles in the second the Giants mustered just two more singles, one from Pagan in the fourth and another from Blanco in the sixth, until the ninth inning.Kershaw entered the ninth inning having thrown just 98 pitches. In the final frame he got Theriot to hit a fly ball to the left-centerfield gap and struck out Cabrera for the third time for two quick outs. Posey kept the game alive with a sharp ground ball off third baseman Hanley Ramirezs glove for the Giants fifth hit, but Pagan grounded out to third to end the game in a sharp three hours and three minutes.The top of the Giants order, Blanco, Theriot, Cabrera and Posey, combined to go 1-for-15 with a walk and five strikeouts against Kershaw.In the field: The newest Giant, Marco Scutaro, made a smart play on Clayton Kershaws bunt in the third inning. With a runner on first, the Dodgers ace popped up his sacrifice bunt attempt in between Buster Posey and Ryan Vogelsong. Nobody could get to the ball on the fly, but Scutaro charged it and threw across his body to second base to get the force out.Scutaro erased the memory of his good defense with a sun-induced dropped pop up in the middle of a fourth-inning rally. The two-out error kept the inning alive for the Dodgers and led to their second run.On the bases: In his first plate appearance of the game, Angel Pagan reached base on an error but wasted the gift by getting picked off. The mistake was made worse when the next two San Francisco batters singled but the Giants were kept off the board.After drawing a walk in the third inning, Gregor Blanco stole his 18th base of the season to take the team lead and continue to add to his career-high total.Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,902 for their 135th consecutive sellout.Up next: The Giants will try to regain sole possession of first place in the N.L. West when they host the New York Mets for four games starting Monday. In the series opener, the Mets will send RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-4, 5.40 ERA) to the mound to oppose LHP Madison Bumgarner (11-6, 3.10 ERA).

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a very important fact you need to keep in mind when talk of Johnny Cueto’s opt-out comes up, as it so often will over the next six weeks: The Giants always expected him to opt-out after this season, from the moment the ink was dry on the six-year, $130-million contract. 

When you sign at the top of your game and have a chance to hit the market at 31 years old and cash out a second time, you take it. Those are just the rules of professional sports. On the day Cueto was introduced, his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the two-year opt-out was important because they felt Cueto didn’t get a totally fair shot at free agency. 

“Johnny, a little bit unfairly, had a lot of questions about his arm,” Dixon said in December of 2015. “I felt we could reestablish his actual value … He knows he’s as good as (David) Price and (Zack) Greinke, but his situation was a little different.”

The Giants were fine with this, too. The flip side of the opt-out is that if you have the chance to pay a dominant right-hander $46 million over two years, and then escape his mid- to late-thirties, you do it. Every time. You don’t even blink. 

So, here we are, in June of the second year of that deal, with reports that Cueto will opt out. You should take a deep breath because you should have already expected this. But if you didn’t, take comfort in this: By all indications, Cueto has not made a decision, even with the Giants having an unimaginably poor season. 

First of all, Cueto can't make a decision in June. What if the blisters return and he repeats his April ERA a couple more times? What if his elbow starts barking? There are no guarantees with pitchers, and until Cueto gets through the second season, there will be no finality with his decision. 

Aside from the fact that he really can’t make that decision, though, sources insist Cueto hasn’t made up his mind or even thought much about it. People familiar with his thinking continue to say the focus has been baseball all season long, from spring training through his last start. 

Cueto is said to be happy in San Francisco and he enjoys pitching in front of the crowd at AT&T Park. His biggest concern has been wins and losses, and in that respect, this has been a disappointing year for all involved. 

That record has brought the Giants to a crossroads, and this is where it gets interesting. The easy solution is to trade Cueto next month, avoid the opt-out situation entirely, and add prospects to a system lacking them. But, it’s complicated. The Giants do not intend a full teardown, and if they’re going for it again in 2018 — with their core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner, etc. locked in, that’s the plan — they’ll want that second ace at the top of the rotation. And if Bumgarner doesn’t return to form after an injury, they’ll need Cueto’s presence. 

The Giants have until July 31 to decide what to do with Cueto. He has until three days after the World Series ends to decide what to do with his contract. Here in June, by all indications, those decisions haven’t been made. 

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Clutch, late-game hitting by Hunter Pence has propelled him to the three hole as the Giants look to bounce back vs the Braves. Bruce Bochy has released the rest of his lineup for Game 2 of the series...

San Francisco Giants:
1. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 3B
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Austin Slater (R) LF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Nick Hundley (R) C
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Cain (R) P

Atlanta Braves:
1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
8. Johan Camargo (S) 3B
9. Jaime Garcia (L) P