Instant Replay: Giants 2, Rockies 1

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Instant Replay: Giants 2, Rockies 1

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Madison Bumgarner snapped out of a four-start slump and the Giants scored their only runs on a passed ball and three straight singles to win 2-1 in the first of four games against the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park.The Dodgers enjoyed a day off before starting a lengthy road trip, so the Giants magic number now sits at eight.Starting pitching report Madison Bumgarner established a new career-high with five walks, but danced out of danger enough to work six innings and put himself in line for his 15th win, another career-high.Bumgarner entered Mondays series opener 0-3 with a 7.29 ERA and nine walks in his last four starts. It didnt bode well when he walked leadoff man Dexter Fowler. But Fowler was caught stealing ahead of a Jordan Pacheco double and Bumgarner snagged Wilin Rosarios comebacker to end the inning.The second inning started with another walk and Bumgarner made matters worse when he gave up a single to Josh Rutledge, Troy Tulowitzkis replacement. But Bumgarner once again escaped the jam by striking out Matt McBride and getting D.J. LeMahieu to hit into a 6-3 double play. For the first time in the game, Bumgarner didnt walk the leadoff man in the third, but he issues back-to-back one out walks to the top of the order. Thanks to a beautiful backhanded play by Brandon Crawford ahead of a strikeout, Bumgarner kept the Rockies off the board again. After putting together his first 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, Bumgarner was back in the stretch thanks to pitcher Jhoulys Chacins one-out double. Chacin came around to score the only run on Bumgarner when Rutledge came through with a two-out triple.Bumgarner walked his fifth batter with two outs in the sixth inning, but erased the mistake with a 1-3-6 pickoff that ended his evening.Bumgarners final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 K. He threw 101 pitches, 55 of which were strikes.Bullpen report Bruce Bochy turned to his bullpen in the seventh, and wasted no time racking up the mound visits. Guillermo Mota relieved Bumgarner to open the inning, but was yanked after issuing a one-out walk to D.J. LeMahieu. Jose Mijares took over for Mota and struck out pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin before giving way to Santiago Casilla, who ended the inning by getting Dexter Fowler to fly out to left.Casilla remained in the game to start the eighth and kept Bochy in the dugout with a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout of Wilin Rosario. With the luxury of an expanded September roster, Bochy has been switching pitchers late in games with regularity. But he let Casilla hit for himself in the bottom of the eighth and keep the ball for the top of the ninth. The Giants one-time closer induced a ground ball to short for the first out of the ninth, but gave way to lefty specialist Javier Lopez when the Rockies brought in the left-handed hitting Carlos Gonzalez as a pinch hitter. After Lopez induced another 6-3 groundout, Bochy brought in Sergio Romo and Jim Tracy countered with Jason Giambi. Romo won the battle with the aging slugger, getting him to lunge at a two-strike pitch way off the plate to end the game.At the plate Brandon Crawford led off the third inning with a triple after the Giants mustered just a Pablo Sandoval walk in the first two frames against Jhoulys Chacin. Crawfords triple hit off the top of the wall in dead center, eerily similar to the double Ian Kinsler hit in Game 2 of the 2010 World Series at AT&T Park. Madison Bumgarner couldnt bring Crawford home, but with Angel Pagan at the plate, Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario allowed a ball to get away for a run-scoring passed ball.After the Rockies tied the game in the top of the fifth, the Giants appeared poised to take the lead again in the bottom half. Crawford hit a ball to Triples Alley that skipped over the wall for a ground-rule double, the second time in as many as many at-bats that the wall robbed him of an extra base. Bumgarner failed to execute a sacrifice bunt to move Crawford over to third, which proved costly when Angel Pagan singled and Crawford was called out at home. Rockies left fielder Andrew Brown ranged close to the left-field line to get to Pagans ball, then fired a strike to Rosario at home. Crawford was called out on a very close play, but replays suggest he may have been safe.The sixth inning started with three straight hits from the heart of manager Bruce Bochys lineup and gave the Giants the lead again, but it ended in disappointment. Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence all singled, with Pences poke to right scoring Sandoval and moving Posey over to third. The single gave Pence 27 go-ahead RBIs this season, which is tied for the third best in the National League. But one run is all the Giants would get, as Brandon Belt and Xavier Nady both popped up and Crawford ended the inning with a swinging strikeout.After taking the lead in the sixth, the Giants were held to just a Marco Scutaro single and a Pence walk the rest of the way. Santiago Casilla even got another chance with the bat after coming through with an RBI single his last time at the plate. He didnt drive in a run this time, but still made contact, a feat on its own considering his ugly swing.The Giants racked up nine hits, but scored just the two runs, due in large part to a 1-for-8 performance with runners in scoring position.In field Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner each made spectacular defensive plays to keep the Rockies off the board in the first inning. After Bumgarner issued a leadoff walk to Dexter Fowler, Posey erased the mistake with a perfect throw to second base that led both Fowler and his manager Jim Tracy to question second base umpire Ed Hickoxs vision. Bumgarner also allowed a two-out double to Jordan Pacheco, but kept him from scoring when he made a reflexive grab on Wilin Rosarios screaming comebacker to end the inning.It took another amazing defensive play to get Bumgarner through a scoreless third. Brandon Crawford continues to dazzle at short, as he ranged far to his right to backhand a slow-hit ground ball by Jordan Pacheco with runners at first and second. Crawford completed the play with a perfect off-balance throw across his body to Brandon Belt at first for the second out of the inning.Pablo Sandoval, who struggled defensively in consecutive games in Colorado last week, went to the ground to glove a screaming liner off the bat of Wilin Rosario. He collected himself and calmly threw across the diamond to complete the play.On the bases Angel Pagan stole his 26th base of the season after his single in the fifth inning. He didnt get a great jump but beat out a low throw by Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario.Attendance The Giants announced a sellout crowd of 41,280 for their 156th consecutive regular season game with all seats accounted for. Other than during run-scoring rallies, the fans were at their loudest for the celebration of Hall of Famer Orlando Cepedas 75th birthday, during an M-V-P chant for Buster Posey, and to congratulate a woman who was proposed to during the Kiss Cam feature.Up next The Giants play the second of four straight games against the Rockies Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. with RHP Tim Lincecum (9-14, 5.09 ERA) opposing LHP Jeff Francis (5-5, 5.68 ERA).

Reliable on the mound, Melancon seeks thrills off of it

Reliable on the mound, Melancon seeks thrills off of it

SAN FRANCISCO — At his introductory press conference Friday, new Giant Mark Melancon was asked about the fearlessness it takes to be a big league closer. He looked down at the first row of seats, where his wife Mary Catherine was sitting in a brand new No. 41 jersey, smiling. 

“You should probably ask my wife that,” Melancon joked.

When the Melancons got married, Mary Catherine had a calligrapher write up an actual bucket list of things the two could do together and presented it to Mark as a wedding gift. 

“It’s framed and it’s in our bathroom,” Mark said during an interview with CSN Bay Area on Friday. “It’s literally in our bathroom and we look at it all the time and try to plan out what we’re going to get done. Because it is on paper and it’s a goal and all that, we’ve checked off probably 40 or 50 percent of it in six years.”

The check marks include biking down the world’s “most dangerous road” in Bolivia and diving with great white sharks near New Zealand. The Melancons have visited Dubai and gone on a safari and stayed in countless cities off the beaten path. They have gone underwater with manta rays and high in the air in a blimp. Some of the items are simple ones, like attending a Nascar race. 

“There are a few items we’ll have to wait for until after baseball,” Melancon said. “We try to keep it safe of course, but it’s just a lot of fun. It’s a way to kind of bring creativity and allow ourselves to do things you could easily say no to.”

The standard MLB contract prohibits quite a few “dangerous” activities, and with a four-year, $62 million deal that is currently the second-biggest ever for a reliever, Melancon will hold off on certain trips, like skiing the Swiss Alps. “Attend the Kentucky Derby” is on the bucket list, but because the Derby is in May, that one is saved for retirement. In his first year with the Giants, Melancon hopes to put a check mark next to “sit backstage at a concert.”

Melancon said the thrill-seeking has slowed down a bit because the couple now has three young children, two daughters and a son. The Giants are hoping the more relaxed vibe carries over into their ninth innings. Team officials have been told by past Melancon employers that they signed a closer who is “boring” on the mound, in a good way. With a cutter-heavy approach, Melancon tends to get his ninth-inning work done quickly and without drama. That’s a welcome change of pace for an organization that has grown accustomed to “torture” late in games. 

“He was our target and we’ve gotten to know him, and the more we’ve gotten to know him the better we’ve felt about the fact that he was really meant to be a Giant,” team president and CEO Larry Baer said. 

The Giants had Melancon as their top offseason choice — and only big offseason expenditure — all along. Team officials feel even better about that approach after watching Melancon tour the ballpark Friday morning and meet with season-ticket holders and team employees. The fit was an easy one, with one member of the front office saying Melancon is “practically straight out of Giants central casting.”

Melancon’s new teammates feel the same way. He said eight to 10 of them have reached out since the deal was announced Monday. The group includes the types of players who are on any free agent’s bucket list of potential teammates. A ground ball pitcher, Melancon is looking forward to working with a Gold Glove infield. 

“That’s kind of an attractive thing to have a couple of Gold Glovers (up the middle) and then being able to throw to Buster is icing on the cake,” he said. “When you put things together on paper and go ‘who do you want to throw to and back you up,’ this team stands out.”

Dexter Fowler leaves Cubs, signs $82.5 million deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler leaves Cubs, signs $82.5 million deal with Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler is headed from the World Series champions to their biggest rival.

After helping the Chicago Cubs end their long championship drought, he finalized an $82.5 million, five-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. Fowler fills the last big hole left in the Cardinals lineup after moves made earlier in the offseason to shore up the bullpen.

"It was an honor just to be considered to be in the Cardinals organization," said Fowler, who will wear No. 25 in honor of his mentor, Barry Bonds, because his usual 24 is retired by the Cardinals.

"You play against the Cardinals, I've been playing against them for eight years now," Fowler said, "and they always come out fighting. Always fighting. And then being with a rival, being the Cubs however many times we play them a year, you see them and - it's always good a winning team wants you."

Fowler was also a free agent a year ago, when he spurned a $33 million, three-year offer from Baltimore, who refused to offer an opt out after one year, and signed a $13 million, one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. He hit .276 with 13 homers and a career-best .393 on-base percentage that landed him in his first All-Star Game, then had a pair of home runs in helping the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years.

"Playing over there, and playing against the Cardinals, you see them and you saw that they weren't far away," Fowler said. "Obviously they beat up on us, we beat up on them. It was almost even. It was one day or another. I can't put my finger on one thing or another, but we're definitely close."

His new deal calls for a $10 million signing bonus, payable in $1 million installments each July 1 and Oct. 1 for the next five years, and annual salaries of $14.5 million.

He gets a full no-trade provision, $50,000 bonuses for making the All-Star Game and winning a Gold Glove, a $25,000 bonus for a Silver Slugger, $100,000 for League Championship Series MVP and $150,000 for World Series MVP. He would get $250,000 for NL MVP, $150,000 for finishing second in voting and $100,000 for third through fifth. He would get $50,000 for Division Series MVP if the award is created.

One of the goals this offseason for St. Louis was to get more athletic, both defensively and on the base paths. Fowler was identified early in the process as someone who filled that role.

"He was always someone we were hoping to sign," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said, "but after this past week at winter meetings ... we certainly wanted to get this done. And we're excited we got this done."

The lanky 30-year-old from Atlanta is a .268 career hitter over nine seasons with Colorado, Houston and the Cubs. He's expected to slot into the Cardinals' leadoff spot, giving St. Louis a switch-hitter in front of lefty-hitting Matt Carpenter and righties Aledmys Diaz, Stephen Piscotty and Yadier Molina.

"You obviously have great presence at the top of the lineup," manager Mike Matheny said. "The athleticism, the excitement of bringing in a player that has all those physical attributes, I think it's been well-said, this is the guy we were hoping to be sitting up here with."

Fowler said negotiations with the Cardinals were easy with one notable exception.

"We were on a 2-hour time difference, and I guess he wanted to get in touch with me," Fowler said, "but I was in the dentist chair, so he couldn't get in touch."

So, Fowler sent his agent Casey Close a photo of him to pass along to Mozeliak - "That was a first for me, that kind of photo," the GM said - and everything proceeded smoothly after that.

The news of his signing started breaking while Fowler was on a plane to St. Louis, and that also created some problems: namely, with his sleep. People started coming up to him while he was trying to take a nap and asking him whether the news was true.

"I was like, 'Uh, you know, I don't know,'" Fowler said with a grin. "It was definitely funny."

Fowler is eager to help the Cardinals add their 12th World Series championship.

"This is a baseball city," said Fowler. "The fans, every time you come here, you see red everywhere. That's awesome to see. Even going through our parade (in Chicago), you saw Cardinals fans out there. They've won World Series (and) they're poised to be back in the World Series and win again. That was a big part of my decision."

The Cardinals were investigating the trade market for an outfielder during the winter meetings, but decided Fowler was their best option. Because Fowler did not accept Chicago's $17.2 million qualifying offer, St. Louis forfeits its top draft pick next June, No. 18 overall, and the Cubs get an extra selection after the first round as compensation

It was a sacrifice the Cardinals were willing to make to not only improve their lineup, but snag a piece away from their biggest rival in the NL Central.

"There's always the baseball angle in all decisions, but there's also the human element," Mozeliak said. "We think about him as a leader. He wants to have a voice in that clubhouse. When you think back to wanting to change the culture of what we have going on - we like what we have, but now it's even better."