Nationals trade power for precision to bludgeon Giants


Nationals trade power for precision to bludgeon Giants

SAN FRANCISCO First item of note: No Giants were harmed inthe making of a most atrocious 14-2 loss to the Washington Nationals Mondaynight.

Ryan Vogelsong took a shot off his backside, another off hisright shoulder, and most notably, a direct hit to his formerly NL-bestearned-run average. (It went from 2.27 to 2.72.)

Surely he suffered a bruised ego, right?

Im not frustrated at all by this, said Vogelsong, whogave up eight runs in 2 23 innings. The disappointing thing is I felt goodand my stuff was good. Things just didnt go right.

Thats putting it mildly. The Giants were outclassed by theteam with the best record in the major leagues. Theyve been outscored 38-14 infour losses to the Nationals. And theyll need a flinty performance fromMadison Bumgarner, who gets thrown into the breech Tuesday night.

Vogelsong, such a stingy competitor on the mound, simplycouldnt stop a barrage of hits that deflected off bodies and gloves.

I dont think sharpness was the issue, he said. I just didntget them to hit the ball at anybody. Its part of the game. Sometimes the balldoesnt bounce your way and thngs dont go right. It didnt go right tonight.

It was the first time all season that Vogelsong didntcomplete at least six innings. His streak ended at 22 such starts. And theeight earned runs doubled his previous season high.

So many times, Vogelsong has pointed to his lack of a trackrecord while saying he still has so much to prove as a successful major leaguestarter. This time, his solid track record in 2012 provided the comfort.

Whats easy to put it behind me is that Ive got the restof this season and what Ive been able to do, he said. One start wontaffect me. When youre in a long season, a start like this will happen. Youturn the page, even though its hard to take and Ill probably lose some sleepover it.

Vogelsong said he only regretted one pitch the fastballdown the middle that Kurt Suzuki lined for a three-run double that completedthe seven-run third inning.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was long gone by then, havingdouble-timed it to the mound after first base umpire Mike Estabrook calledRoger Bernadina safe with yet another infield single with the bases loaded.This one was a rocket that glanced off Vogelsongs shoulder to second basemanRyan Theriot, whose throw appeared to be in time.

I didnt need to watch it, said Bochy, asked if he saw areplay. It was closer than I thought, but that didnt play a part in the game.Theres not a lot to say. Vogey has been so good. Hes been as consistent asanyone. They placed the ball well and we just couldnt stop it.

Its a rough day at the yard.

The yard was supposed to be the Giants salvation. They sawplenty of fireworks over July 4 weekend at Washington, when the Nationals keptshooting opposite-field home runs to right field and right-center. That wasntgoing to happen at AT&T Park, with its breeze, crisp air and high arcade.

But the Nationals traded the home run for anotherbludgeoning tool. Their lineup kept making hard contact, and it was uncanny howwell they placed their ground balls.

They were all tough plays, Bochy said. A couple balls oneinch the other way and he gets out of that inning.

Instead, neither Vogelsong nor Bochy saw the fourth. And giventhe outcome, perhaps there were some in the sellout crowd who wished they couldvetraded places.

Its been a great run hes been on, and I told him thatwhen he came out, Bochy said of Vogelsong. It was one of those games. Whatcould go wrong went wrong.

At least the Giants made the right decision prior to the first pitch, when they decided to keep a 13th pitcher while finding a roster space to activate third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Were in pretty good shape, considering, Bochy said.

Giants Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo


Giants Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo

SAN FRANCISCO — About 45 minutes after the Giants announced that Chris Marrero had been designated for assignment, the left fielder walked up to the locker of one of the newcomers. Marrero patted Christian Arroyo on the back and shook his hand, congratulating him for his first call-up to the big leagues. 

“That’s my boy,” he said later. “I was really happy for him.”

The Arroyo promotion and the addition of Drew Stubbs signaled the end of Marrero’s April run in the lineup. He was cut and Aaron Hill was put on the disabled list, clearing two roster spots. Just as Arroyo forced his way up with three huge weeks in Triple-A, Marrero forced his way onto the opening day roster with a monster spring that included eight homers. He had just five hits in 38 at-bats before Monday’s moves.

“The team is struggling and we’ve got to make some moves,” Marrero said. “I believe in myself and I’ll go down and get back to how I felt in spring training. This is what I’ve worked for my whole life. I lost the feel that I had in the spring. Things were a little rushed. I came in and worked hard every day to try and find it. I’m going to keep working. I haven’t lost confidence in myself.”

Marrero was put in a bit of a tough spot. He played just about every day in Scottsdale because he was trying to win a job, and when he finally did make it, some Giants coaches felt he was a bit worn down. The team’s brutal start to the season put a glaring spotlight on left field, and this move became obvious over time.

Marrero said he likes it here, and that if he isn’t claimed, he will go to Triple-A Sacramento and try to find that spring swing and get back up here. Count Bruce Bochy among those hoping it goes down that way. 

“We thought a lot of him and still do,” Bochy said. “He’s a good hitter.”

--- Arroyo had a 4.4 GPA in high school, so the Giants knew he was smart. He’s savvy, too. There’s nothing like picking up the longest-tenured player on the team, literally. After snagging a ricochet in the fourth inning last night, Arroyo kept running and lifted Cain off the grass. They then chest-bumped. 

“That just kind of happened,” Arroyo said. “He hit it, I looked at Cain going down and saw the ball, went running and got it, instincts took over. I made a throw and got the guy. It was a fun play. In that moment, I was just pumped up. It’s one of those plays you get excited over.”

Arroyo said he heard Cain yelling and he thought he was hurt, so that’s why he ran over. Cain did have an X-ray on the foot that got hit but it came back negative. 

“Christian did a great job handling himself,” Cain said. “He picked me up big-time.”

The best part of the play came hours after it was made. As Cain talked to reporters, Brandon Crawford — who was in position to scoop the grounder in the fourth — was standing at his locker, a few feet away.

“Let it go through next time,” he said softly.

--- Denard Span was out on the field Monday afternoon, but he’ll miss another two to four days with that right shoulder injury. This will truly be a day-to-day situation. If at any point the Giants feel they need coverage, Span can be put on the 10-day DL. 

--- Hill apparently felt discomfort after playing long toss on the road trip. He can swing a bat but he was going to be kept from throwing for three to four days, so he was put on the DL.

--- This spring, Posey was asked about facing Sergio Romo. Here was his long tendencies-filled answer. Posey faced Romo in the eighth and flied out. 

"It was a little weird, I'm not going to lie," he said. "I caught him for so long. It's definitely interesting being in the batter's box instead of being the plate."

Was there a nod or "hey what's up" look between the two?

"I've caught him long enough to know you don't look at him," Posey said, smiling. 

--- If you missed it, the standing ovation for Romo was a very, very cool moment. Also, here's my story on Madison Bumgarner, who spoke for the first time since his injury. And here's the first story on Arroyo, with a fun anecdote about his mom. She'll be in the stands Tuesday. And finally, my game story from last night. 

On night Giants turn to youth, Matt Cain turns back the clock

On night Giants turn to youth, Matt Cain turns back the clock

SAN FRANCISCO — In the second inning Tuesday, as Christian Arroyo strapped on his gear and grabbed his bat, Buster Posey looked over at Matt Cain. 

“Goodness,” he said. “He looks really young.”

There was a time when that was said about Cain, now 32, and Posey, now 30. They broke in as fresh-faced kids, too, but these days they’re the grizzled vets, anchors of a clubhouse that got some fresh blood on Monday. Arroyo brought the energy to AT&T Park and Cain and Posey did the rest. 

The starter, in the midst of a surprising resurgence, threw six dominant innings against the visiting Dodgers. Posey threw one runner out at second to end the eighth and back-picked Justin Turner at second with two down in the ninth, clinching a 2-1 win that felt like a must-have in the clubhouse. 

“I mean, we needed it,” Posey said. “I don’t think you can underscore it. We definitely needed it.”

The front office sensed that after a sweep at Coors Field. After weeks of saying the Giants had to be patient with Arroyo, Bobby Evans pulled the trigger Monday morning. Drew Stubbs was also added to temporarily take over in center. The message was clear: A sense of urgency was needed throughout the organization, and the players responded with perhaps their cleanest game of the year. 

Cain did the heavy lifting, allowing just two hits and a walk before his right hamstring bit. He was pulled while warming up in the seventh, but he’s optimistic. Cain missed two weeks last year with the same injury, but he said it’s not as bad this time around. 

“Last year it was something that was definitely more on my mind when I did it,” he said. “I pushed too hard. I thought we were being a lot smarter today.”

The bullpen backed Cain, with Steven Okert, George Kontos, Derek Law (who allowed a run but shut down further damage) and Mark Melancon carrying it home. Melancon ran into some trouble in the ninth when Turner alertly took second on a spiked curveball. With Adrian Gonzalez up, the Dodgers were a single away from tying it up. Turner strayed too far off the bag and Posey gunned him down.

“It was just instinct,” he said. “He was anticipating a ball being put in play and took that one or two extra stutter steps. 

Melancon emphatically yelled on the mound. Cain watched the final out from the trainer’s room. The win was his first over the Dodgers in four seasons, and while on the mound, Cain lowered his ERA to a staff-best 2.42.

“He did a great job locating his fastball,” Posey said. “He threw his curveball for strikes, expanded the zone with his fastball, mixed some changeups in. He did a nice job.”

The approach looks sustainable, and the Giants need it. Madison Bumgarner had another MRI on Monday and while the Giants don’t have a firm timetable yet, manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged that it will “be a while.” 

In the meantime, the Giants will try to find a mix that works. Hunter Pence was moved up to leadoff Monday and he drove in a needed insurance run. The infield trio of Brandon Crawford, Arroyo and Joe Panik combined for the first run, with Crawford doubling, Arroyo moving him over, and Panik skying a ball deep enough for a sacrifice fly. 

Bochy praised Arroyo for his approach in that moment, and the rookie said he was focused hard on getting Crawford over. It was the kind of at-bat the Giants teach in the minors, and they hope more is on the way. The Triple-A squad is more talented than it’s been in years, and with big leaguers continuing to drop, the depth will be needed. 

As he got dressed Monday night, Arroyo rattled off facts from the night’s River Cats game and talked about how much he believes in the players there. He’s part of a wave that’s coming slowly, a group that includes Ty Blach, who faces a monumental task Tuesday. The young left-hander will go up against Clayton Kershaw as the Giants try to keep the momentum going.

“We’ve got our hands full tomorrow,” Bochy said. “We know it. I thought tonight was huge for us to stop things.”