Instant Replay: Giants 5, Astros 1


Instant Replay: Giants 5, Astros 1


SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants began the unofficial second half of the season with as close to a sure thing as possible -- Madison Bumgarner starting at AT&T Park. His seven-inning gem against the Houston Astros, coupled with Buster Posey's Barry Bonds-like blast in the first inning showed the Giants needed no luck to earn a 5-1 win on Orange Friday the 13th.Starting pitching report:Madison Bumgarner is plain hard to hit at AT&T Park.The game started the way you want it to. One pitch, one All-Star retired as Jose Altuve flew out to fellow N.L. All-Star Melky Cabrera to start the game. Altuve, who was 5-for-11 with a home run against Bumgarner coming in, went 0-for-3 against the Giants' starter.Bumgarner allowed baserunners in each of the first three innings, but stranded them all. Then he settled into his steely groove, tossing three-up, three-down fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Bumgarner left plenty of Houston thumbs in the batters box, inducing multiple broken-bat ground balls.It looked to be more of the same in the seventh until, with two outs, Bumgarner elevated a 91-mph two-seam fastball to Chris Snyder, and Snyder got all of it, sending it deep into the AT&T alleyway down the left-field line to break up the shutout. It was the second and final hit Bumgarner allowed. Bumgarner got former Giant Matt Downs to fly out to right field to end the top of the inning and left the field for last time Friday to a standing ovation.Bumgarner's final line: Seven innings pitched, two hits, one earned run, two walks, five strikeouts, 105 pitches, 64 strikes and another dominant home win. He earned his 11th win on the season, matching Lance Lynn for second in the N.L.The 22-year-old southpaw is now to 15-2 in his last 18 home starts. He entered the game fourth in the National League with a home ERA of 1.88 (Ryan Vogelsong is first at 1.43).Bullpen report:Javier Lopez entered for Bumgarner in the eighth inning and struck out the only batter he faced, Brian Bogusevic. Lopez gave way to Sergio Romo, who retired Altuve on the first pitch and got Brian Bixler to strike out swinging. The best right- and left-handed specialist pairing in the majors showed why.The Giants scored a run in the ninth to eliminate the save situation, and it was Romo who trotted out for the final three outs. But after a single and a walk, Bochy elected to bring in his closer -- Santiago Casilla. Bochy said before the game that Casilla's blister is fully healed, and Casilla backed his manager's words by striking out Chris Johnson and Chris Snyder to end the game.With the bats:The Giants picked up where they left off in the All-Star game, scoring four times in the first two frames. It was more than the staff needed.After a first-inning walk to Ryan Theriot, Buster Posey faced Wandy Rodriguez with two outs and no respect. He clubbed an 89-mph two-seam fastball an estimated 448 feet to dead center field, sending the crowd into a nostalgic frenzy as the words "Barry Bonds" passed in whispers around the stadium like the forbidden wave. The crack of Posey's contact was Bonds-like, too.The blast was just the Giants' 15th at AT&T Park this season, and their ninth in the last 22 games. They entered Friday's game tied with the Dodgers for the least home runs in the majors (51).The second inning was just as productive as the first. Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt each slipped singles into left field and with Joaquin Arias in the box, Bruce Bochy called for the double steal. Without Pagan and Belt in motion, Arias' ground ball to third base is a 5-4-3 double play. Instead, Astros third baseman Chris Johnson broke for the bag and Arias' ground ball barely evaded the Pagan's head-long dive en route to the safety of the left-field grass. Pagan scored, Belt moved to third and the Giants were poised for a big inning with runners at the corners and Madison Bumgarner up with no outs. They only managed to make it 4-0, scoring Belt on Justin Christian's ground out.The Giants wasted three singles and two stolen bases in the middle innings before Nate Schierholtz -- who was hammering the ball in multiple batting practice sessions before the game -- led off the seventh with a triple. The Giants committed the Cardinal Offensive Sin and failed to score him.Pablo Sandoval gave them a chance for atonement when his drive down the right field line ended in a belly-slide into third base, his first non-All-Star Game triple of the season. Pagan sent a shallow fly to left field and Sandoval made the unwise decision to tag up. The ball beat him to home easily, but Sandoval went Jack Parkman in Major League and told Chris Snyder not to stand on the tracks while the train's coming through. The collision between 240-pounders resulted in a dislodged ball and Sandoval re-tagged home plate for the Giants' fifth and final run.With the gloves:Madison Bumgarner set the defensive tone in the first inning when J.D. Martinez lined a ball right back up the box. Bumgarner snared it with his glove, but with too much heat to be contained, it rattled out toward the first-base line. Bumgarner took a second to identify what happened before launching into action. He channeled Tim Lincecum, dropped into a double-knee slide around the ball, scooped it up barehanded and threw on to Brandon Belt to end the inning. Just like you draw it up.The Giants, who led the N.L. at the break with 69 errors, played clean defense behind Bumgarner.On the bases:After a two-out single in the fifth, Ryan Theriot stole his ninth base of the season. Melky Cabrera faked a bunt, and Theriot, who broke on Rodriguez's first move, slid in feet first. The extra 90 feet didn't matter, as Cabrera fanned on a low, sharp curveball.Angel Pagan was next to attempt after his two-out infield single in the sixth inning. Pagan, too, went on first move and his head-first dive barely beat Chris Snyder's throw for his 16th swiped bag this year.Theriot wasn't all impressive on the bases, though. Standing on first base in the seventh inning with Schierholtz on third, Theriot ran into a double play. He tried to put on the brakes and backtrack on a slow ground ball to second, but had gone too far to prevent Altuve from tagging him and retiring Melky Cabrera to end the inning with a 4-3 double play.Attendance:The announced attendance of 42,116 resembled a tiered pumpkin patch thanks to the orange fur headdress giveaways from Hanwha Solar on Fireworks Night.Up next:Saturday marks a big start for Tim Lincecum (3-10, 6.42), as GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged that if he cannot progress, his spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy. He'll face Lucas Harrell (7-6, 4.56) when the Astros visit the Giants in Game 2 of the three-game series Saturday at 6:05 p.m. Get it hot with Giants Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres


SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, Christian Arroyo made his MLB debut. Tuesday brought his first hit and on Wednesday it was the first homer. Thursday’s game was his first multi-hit game as a big leaguer. What was in store Friday? The best swing yet.

Arroyo hit a go-ahead shot to left while leading off the eighth, giving the Giants a 4-3 win in their series opener with the Padres. The player coaches simply call “The Kid” has two homers in his first five games, and both have come in huge spots. Friday’s sent another jolt through AT&T Park and got a lead to Mark Melancon, who closed out the Padres. 

For four innings, a long-haired right-hander was no-hitting the Padres. Jeff Samardzija was sharp early and he got a nice cushion in the first. Joe Panik and Brandon Belt led off with singles and Panik scored on Erick Aybar’s two-out error. A Conor Gillaspie knock made it 2-0. 

The first hit allowed by Samardzija was a painful one. He plunked Yangervis Solarte to open the fifth and Ryan Schimpf hit a long dinger to dead center to tie the game. Cory Spangenberg followed with a single to left that skipped under Belt’s glove. Spangenberg went to third on the play and scored on a bloop. 

Belt made up for the play in the bottom of the inning, beating the outfield shift with a double and scoring on Mike Morse’s sacrifice fly to right two batters later. Samardzija ran into trouble in the seventh, but with two in scoring position and one out, he got a strikeout and a grounder to third. The Giants put the go-ahead run on second in their half, but Hunter Pence and Morse struck out. 

Starting pitching report: Samardzija has allowed six homers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL with a handful of players, including Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. 

Bullpen report: Melancon has five straight saves since blowing his first opportunity as a Giant. 

At the plate: Belt reached base four times. His on-base percentage is sitting at a cool .390. 

In the field: Panik made a brilliant diving catch in center for the first out of the ninth. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a sellout crowd. One of the fans looked just like Samardzija, possibly on purpose. 

Up next: Matt Cain has a 2.42 ERA but he left his last start with a tight hamstring. He’ll face Jhoulys Chacin (2-3, 5.90).