Giants

League calls Dodgers 'team to beat' during Giants' parade

930959.jpg

League calls Dodgers 'team to beat' during Giants' parade

The Giants closed the 2012 season with an eight-game lead over the division-rival Dodgers, then went on a remarkable postseason run to earn their second World Series Championship in the past three years. Los Angeles' newly-extended closer Brandon League is not impressed; he offered some early bulletin-board comments regarding next season.

"The Giants had a great year," League said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. "They won the games they needed to win. But I think in 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to be the team everyone wants to beat or tries to beat.

"We're going to have a target on our back next year and we welcome it."

League's comments came on the same day as the Giants ticker tape parade.

His inflated perception of the L.A. team seems natural after his comments about free agency.

"I didn't feel the need to test the market because the Dodgers were No. 1 on my list," League said.

The 29-year-old righty was acquired from the Seattle Mariners in part of the Dodgers' 2011 trade-deadline shopping spree. Last week he signed a three-year, 22.5-million contract extension after going 2-1 with six saves and a 2.30 ERA in 28 games for the Dodgers last season.

Expected to be the Dodgers closer next season, League will have plenty of chances to back up his bold claims, and he'll have them with when the most chips are on the table.

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

LOS ANGELES — Mac Williamson was sent up to pinch-hit when the Giants faced Clayton Kershaw earlier this month, and on a two-strike count, he watched as Kershaw shook off five different signs as he stood on the mound. Kershaw then froze Williamson with a fastball. It was a good lesson for Williamson, a player still trying to find his footing at the big league level.

“He’s a guy you can’t really guess with,” Williamson said. 

The outfielder admits he tends to overthink things. “I’m a perfectionist,” he said Sunday. But given a start against Kershaw, Williamson let his talent — and a little luck — take over. Williamson’s first hit off Kershaw was a bleeder that resulted in an infield hit. His second bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. The third one was the highlight of the day for the Giants. 

Kershaw had a shutout going when he tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball past Williamson in the eighth. He blasted it to dead center. It was the only run for the Giants in a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers. 

“It’s good to see him get those swings off,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That homer was to the big part of the park. It shows how strong he is.”

The Giants have always known Williamson has the strength and raw talent. He hasn’t stuck for a number of reasons, including injuries and that aforementioned tendency sometimes to overthink at the plate. It probably hasn’t helped, either, that the Giants tend to sit him for days at a time and then play him against the Kershaws and Zack Greinkes and Rich Hills of the world. 

Williamson took advantage of the tough assignment on Sunday, joining a small group of Giants who have three hits in a game off Kershaw. 

“Hunter was ahead of me,” he said, smiling. “He beat me to it.”

Pence also had three hits, giving the Giants six from the corners against the best pitcher in the game. It wasn’t enough, but for Williamson, it was something to build off as the offseason approaches. He said it’s a winter he doesn’t plan to take lightly. Williamson’s agents are working to line up a Winter Ball job in the Dominican Republic.

Giants lineup: Three lefties out against Kershaw

span-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Giants lineup: Three lefties out against Kershaw

With Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers Sunday, Bruce Bochy is resting three left-handed bats...

San Francisco Giants:
1. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
2. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
3. Buster Posey (R) 1B
4. Hunter Pence (R) RF
5. Nick Hundley (R) C
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
8. Mac Williamson (R) LF
9. Chris Stratton (R) RHP

Los Angeles Dodgers:
1. Chris Taylor (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Cody Bellinger (L) 1B
4. Curtis Granderson (L) RF
5. Logan Forsythe (R) 3B
6. Chase Utley (L) 2B
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Joc Pederson (L) LF
9. Clayton Kershaw (L) LHP