Jokester Scutaro rewarded for 2012 performance

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Jokester Scutaro rewarded for 2012 performance

SAN FRANCISCO -- Marco Scutaro has played 11 years of Major League Baseball, but never has he had a season like his 61-game campaign with the Giants last year.

Scutaro hit .362 for San Francisco, quickly commandeering the starting second position in the field and in the lineup, and parlayed his performance into a three-year, $20 million contract that far surpasses any of the veteran's previous deals.

"I was looking for the best contract," Scutaro said honestly. "It may be my last contract, because of my age."

Scutaro, who passed his physical earlier Friday, is acutely aware that Game 7 of the 2015 World Series could very well fall on his 40th birthday.

"Well Omar (Vizquel) played until he was 55," Scutaro joked. "Why not me?"

For a man whose career earnings barely break the $22-million plateau, the new contract might bump him up a tax bracket, but it wasn't quite what the Venezuelan-born infielder had in mind.

"I was looking for three-thousand-million," Scutaro reiterated. "They didn't get close."

Forgoing money for a chance to win, though, is a concept Scutaro is plenty familiar with. He signed a two-year, $10.5 million contract with the Red Sox in 2009 and admitted leaving money on the table in doing so.

Instead of a trip to the playoffs, Scutaro claims only to have gone bald in Boston. Sporting what seemed to be significantly more hair Friday and popping chunks of honeydew melon into his mouth, Scutaro laughed.

"I have no 3-2 sliders. I don't have to get hit by a truck. I don't have to watch video every day or talk with (the media) all the time."

Until he reports to spring training in February, Scutaro plans to remain stress free. It helps that he's keeping things light. When a U.S. Embassy security guard recognized him in Miami,  but couldn't quite place him, Scutaro offered a helping hand.

"You probably know me from Hollywood," Scutaro joked before revealing his true identity.

His true identity was revealed to the Bay Area when he turned down an offer worth more per season from St. Louis to re-join the Giants. It was hardly a spurn, but it couldn't have felt good for the Cardinals, who he torched for 14 hits en route to the NLCS MVP Award. His .500 series followed the gruesome Game 2 collision with Matt Holliday, and while Scutaro had nothing but positive things to say about his talks with the Cardinals, the thought of hitting in front of Holliday registered.

"I told them if they sign me," Scutaro said. "I would kick his ass every day. They probably thought, 'He’d better go to San Francisco.'"

He did, and if all goes as planned, he'll be soaking up raindrops from the middle of AT&T Park's diamond for the next three seasons.

"It all depends on health," Scutaro said, "I think I can play for the next three years. And probably with more hair."

Venezuelan fans might lose some hair over his intentions not to represent his country in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, though they'll take solace in sluggers like Miguel Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval.

"Gotta save my bullets," Scutaro said of his decision.

Giants fans are hoping the bullets will be flying by the time the Giants accept their 2012 championship rings prior to their home opener April 5 -- with Holliday and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals watching.

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

CHICAGO — Had a half-dozen other things gone differently Wednesday night, the Giants might have spent the hour after the game shrugging off a blowout loss or celebrating one of the best at-bats of the year. 

Three innings after the game was nearly lost for good, Mac Williamson saw 12 pitches from Wade Davis, who entered with a perfect ERA in 19 appearances, fouling eight of them off before slamming a two-run homer to right. The play came with some comedic value, as Williamson nearly passed Eduardo Nuñez on the bases. It also came with some historic value, as it snapped a streak of 19 consecutive solo shots that was two shy of the MLB record. 

The homer was not, however, the talking point after the game. A few minutes after Williamson went deep, Joe Panik was tossing his bat into the grass in frustration over a called third strike that ended the game and clinched a 5-4 win for the Cubs. Ten minutes after that, Bruce Bochy watched the highlight and tossed his phone onto his desk. 

“It’s a shame to end on that call, it really is,” Bochy said. “We had him on fumes and that’s not a strike. But they got the call and that’s it.”

The Giants were left with their third loss in four games, a run that has halted their momentum. They again are 11 games back in the National League West, with so many nights like this one: A comeback seemed real, but the mistakes were too much to overcome. 

Williamson, in talking about his homer, pivoted and pointed to a blunder of his own. In a tied game in the fifth, Miguel Montero hit a single to right with Addison Russell on first. The speedy shortstop watched Williamson as the ball rolled into the outfield, and when Williamson didn’t charge as hard as he otherwise might, Russell took off for third. The throw was perfect, but late. Russell scored on a fly ball. 

“The home run is really cool but it would have been a lot cooler if I hadn’t have made the mistake earlier in the game and given them the extra run,” Williamson said, explaining that he has tried to focus on being smooth to the ball and not rushing on fast outfields. In the past, rushing has led to bobbles and extra bases. 

Another costly sequence came in the eighth. After the Giants left the bases loaded in the top of the inning, Steven Okert gave up a triple to Jason Heyward, who scored on a sacrifice fly. Okert, so good when he was first called up, has been less effective of late. 

“We’ve got to get our lefties going,” Bochy said. “We gave them a run there and that put it at three and that’s just enough to cover it for them.”

Truth be told, the Giants were probably lucky to even have worries at that point. The wind blew a three-run Heyward homer inches foul in the sixth, and while the Giants grumbled about the final call of the game, an earlier call on Heyward for running inside the base path took a Cubs run off the board and killed a rally. It was correct by the letter of the law, but one you rarely see. The Giants escaped, but they wouldn’t come all the way back, despite Williamson’s late push. 

The young outfielder has been looking to make an impact since coming back up on the last homestand. He knew how tough Davis has been. 

“He’s been the best in the game this year and the numbers speak for themselves,” Williamson said. “He has phenomenal stuff. You get in the box and figure you’ve got nothing to lose, battle as tough as you can.”

Williamson fouled off good strikes and tantalizing balls. When he lofted a 2-2 pitch toward right, he took off out of the box. The ball carried just over the wall, and Williamson didn’t look up until he rounded third. That’s when Phil Nevin started yelling at him to slow down. Nuñez, who had a tight hamstring, turned and told Williamson to slow down.

“I kinda blacked out for a second there,” Williamson said. 

“I was like, ‘Bro, it’s a homer — just jog,’” Nunez said.

The moment temporarily sent a rush through the dugout. Minutes later, the Giants were left livid over a game that probably shouldn’t have been so close, but nonetheless was right there for them to steal. 

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — The Giants will need a win on getaway day to clinch their first winning road trip.

Wednesday's comeback attempt fell just short, as the Giants scored two in the ninth but lost to the Cubs 5-4. Since taking the first two games in St. Louis, they have dropped three of four, falling 11 games back of the Rockies in the division.

Here are five things to know from the coldest Giants game of the year … 

— Mac Williamson fouled off eight pitches before going the opposite way against Wade Davis, who entered with a 0.00 ERA in 19 appearances. The two-run homer ended a run of 19 consecutive solo shots by the Giants, two short of their own MLB record. It was the first homer off Davis in two years. 

— The sixth inning was one of the stranger escapes we’ve seen from a pitcher this season. With two on and one out, Jason Heyward blasted a Matt Moore pitch right down the line and it looked like it would give the Cubs a 6-2 lead. The wind blew the ball a couple of feet foul. Heyward then topped one down the line and Moore’s throw bounced away from first, allowing a run to score. But the umpires called — correctly — Heyward out for running inside the line. It’s a call you rarely see. Moore then struck out Addison Russell to keep what could have easily been a 6-2 or 4-2 game at 3-2. 

— Before the first game of this series, a Giant asked in the dugout, “I wonder what some of the Cubs’ numbers would look like at our place?” Anthony Rizzo is a .159 hitter with no homers in 18 career games at AT&T Park, but he had no issues on a night when conditions were worse than they are most nights in San Francisco. Rizzo homered off Moore in his first two at-bats. 

— Rizzo will occasionally put a bunt down to beat the shift — he had an accidental bunt in his third at-bat — which the Giants have long wanted Brandon Belt to do. Belt pushed one away from the shift in the sixth, and even though it was too close to pitcher Kyle Hendricks, the throw was off and Belt reached second. One of those a week would open up a few more holes. 

— This lineup has made a habit of making mediocre and downright bad pitchers look good, and the actual good ones are taking advantage, too. A night after Jon Lester recorded his first complete game of the year, Hendricks threw seven innings for the first time.