Romo, Giants continue to dispel myths

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Romo, Giants continue to dispel myths

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The last time a team won three consecutive games twice in a year to win postseason series was 1985, when the Kansas City Royals were the best team in baseball.Thats right. When the earth was still cooling.But to those who believe in vibes, thats all the throb in the San Francisco Giant clubhouse. Having punched holes in myths this entire postseason, they enter the all-in game with the St. Louis Cardinals Monday night with their best pitcher going, their bullpen rested, and their lineup healthy.I dont know how else to put it, Sergio Romo said, the words running over each other in a rush to escape his arrhythmic emotions. We dont want to go home yet. I dont want to go home yet.Well, the Giants ARE home, to be precise. Sundays 6-1 win over St. Louis in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series kept them from scattering to the nine vectors of offseason life, and anyway, home is what you make it.Or in this case, what Ryan Vogelsong and Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval and yes, Sergio Romo, chose to make it. The Giants, who allegedly struggled at home this year (and yes, allegedly is the word), gave the Cardinals all the home cooking a person can stomach. Between the atmosphere and the unique hops from an unusually choppy infield, the Cardinals got a weeks worth of San Francisco baseball in one night.
BAGGARLY: Vogelsong helps Giants stay alive
Romo is probably the spokesman for the rumble and hum of the Giants ascendant. If the Giants bullpen is closer by committee, he is the committee chair, and pulls the team and crowd with him. Indeed, he is one of the enduring myths of this season the closer who gets everything but the official title.Then again, the starting rotation itself is a bit of a myth. It has been saved three times in October alone by the fourth and fifth starters, Ryan Vogelsong and the redoubtable Barry Zito, if you go by the pecking order established at the beginning of the year. Vogelsong defied the reaper and his preseason place Sunday by overwhelming the Cardinals with fastballs early and baffling them with breaking balls the second time through the order. By the time he had allowed St. Louis first hit, to David Descalso in the fifth inning, the Giants had already scored five of their six runs.And theres another myth dispelled. For all the focus on pitching matchups, postseason games are truly won by scoring first and establishing advantages that can be held. The team scoring first in San Franciscos 11 games is 9-2, and the team scoring first has fallen behind only twice as well. The Giants won one of those two games, Game 3 in Cincinnati.The first Vogelsong start.Which, oddly, is the one of his three that impressed him the least.I actually think that my stuff was better in Game 2, he said. I threw the ball extremely well tonight, obviously, but I feel like I had some good misses (that they swung through). It comes down to executing the pitches then getting lucky on the ones you dont make, the ones they foul off or swing through. So I think Game 2, my stuff overall was better. Tonight I just had some good misses and some good fortune.
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And Scutaro, the other logical choice for series MVP if the Giants win, had another eye-popping game, walking and scoring the games first run, doubling home two runs in the second, and kicking in a third hit in the fourth just to reinforce the suggestion that he is part of the true nucleus of this team, after only three months in town. Remember, he was once a Colorado Rockie, a level of punishment that is hard to describe. Except, of course, by Scutaro himself.I wish I could see Dan ODowd, so I could kiss him right on the lips, Scutaro said of the Colorado general manager who moved Scutaro west largely to save the Rockies a million dollars. He told me he was going to work to put me in the best place he could, where I had a chance to win. He kept his word.And Scutaro has kept his since his unfortunate 2011 in Boston. He is hitting .471 since Matt Holliday steamrolled him in the first inning of Game 2. People notice that sort of thing, especially in October, as in one step closer to overcoming his difficult end with the Red Sox.I remember the last out in Cincinnati, when (Jay) Bruce was fouling all those pitches off, he said. I was saying, Please God, dont make me feel like that again.Bruce flied out, Scott Rolen struck out, and Scutaro survives. So yes, some of it is timing. And some of it is luck. Good, and bad.The Cardinals have injuries to Carlos Beltran (knee) and Holliday (back) that are impacting the St. Louis lineup, and catcher Yadier Molina has struggled in the five-spot. In addition, Game 6 starter Chris Carpenter was pitching the equivalent of his final spring training start after missing almost the entire year with an injury, and couldnt find the feel of his sinker at any point of the game.Plus, the Cardinals have allowed 10 unearned runs in this series, making them a team-wide version of Brooks Conrad, the unfortunate soul who committed four errors against the Giants in their NLDS win over the Braves two years ago.All that, though, is filed under tough cheese. In October, explanations become excuses, and excuses are the last thing to be packed on the plane. You win, or you lose. You live with the recriminations, or you live with the ambient noise of a city that envelops you.And right now, San Francisco is all noise.For all the credit Hunter Pence gets for his pregame speeches, and Bruce Bochy gets for his calm yet creative work at the rudder, bouncing out of the corner after losing the early rounds is as much a matter of vibe as anything else. And Romo carries that vibe to its overwhelming conclusion.I dont know if theres a knack to winning when your backs are against the wall, Romo said, but I will say that doing it alone is impossible. You need everyone. In uniform, in the stands, all of it. We want to do well for ourselves, and this city. These people deserve our best efforts, and our best games.Well, one game, anyway, one which will tell just how much this city will get what Romo says it deserves. At home, where the Giants are not supposed to play well. With their best pitcher, Matt Cain, who will have to go very deep and very strong to beat the work of his two predecessors, Vogelsong and Zito.And with Romo finishing, to the roaring strains of his own entry music, El Mechon.The Lock.

Giants lineup: Morse gets first start, Posey out vs Padres

Giants lineup: Morse gets first start, Posey out vs Padres

Programming note: Padres-Giants coverage starts today at 6:00pm with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Andy Green and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series opener at AT&T Park:

Padres (9-15)

1. Manuel Margot (R) CF
2. Erick Aybar (S) SS
3. Wil Myers (R) 1B
4. Yangervis Solarte (S) 2B
5. Ryan Schimpf (L) 3B
6. Cory Spangenberg (L) LF
7. Austin Hedges (R) C
8. Jabari Blash (R) RF
9. Luis Perdomo (R) P

Giants (8-15) 

1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Brandon Belt (L) LF
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Michael Morse (R) 1B
5. Christian Arroyo (R) SS
6. Conor Gillaspie (L) 3B
7. Nick Hundley (R) C
8. Drew Stubbs (R) CF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P

Down on the Farm: Q&A with San Jose Giants 1B/3B Jonah Arenado

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San Jose Giants/Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Q&A with San Jose Giants 1B/3B Jonah Arenado

The Giants know Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado all too well. In 76 games, Arenado has a .308 batting average against the Giants with 20 home runs, his most off any team in all of the majors. 

Playing in Advanced Single-A, the Giants have their own Arenado. Brother Jonah Arenado plays first and third base for the San Jose Giants and hit 19 home runs in 2016. 

Before the younger brother went 2-for-4 against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Thursday night, NBC Sports Bay Area spoke over the phone with Arenado. Below is the full transcript where we talk his hitting approach, frustrations with the Lakers, trash talk with Nolan in ping pong and much more. 

Dalton Johnson: “You guys are now three weeks in, but I want to actually go back to Opening Day real quick. I know you guys ultimately lost, but it was a 16-inning game. Was that the longest game you’ve ever played in?” 

Jonah Arenado: “No, the longest game I ever played in was 17 innings.” 

DJ: “Really?! Wow! When was that?” 

JA: “I played 17 innings in Lakewood. I was playing for Augusta at the time. We were playing in New Jersey. So we went 17 innings, but we didn’t even get to finish the game. The fog got so extreme that we had to just cancel the game.” 

DJ: “The fog? That’s just crazy. So you were out in Augusta for the GreenJackets?” 

JA: “Yeah.”

DJ: “I was actually out in Savannah for college ball. I’m not sure if you guys ever played against the Sand Gnats.”

JA: “Yeah we were there the last year they had that stadium.” 

DJ: “Grayson Stadium. That was a really fun park. But a 16 or 17-inning game, I’m going to guess that the dugout has to get a little weird at some point, right?” 

JA: “Yeah you're just getting like... it gets kind of monotonous you know. It’s kind of like okay, when are we gonna score or when are they gonna score. And obviously you don’t want to lose the game, but you just want something to happen.” 

DJ: “What are you guys bringing out the rally caps or doing anything different?” 

JA: “No, no rally caps, but there’s times where a couple innings go by and someone will come into the dugout and try get jacked up or excite everyone. When it doesn’t work, it’s like alright here we go again.” 

DJ: “Off the field, I think you’re a Southern California guy and this is your second year out in Northern California in San Jose. Obviously you guys are always busy, but do you ever get to go out and check the Bay Area scenery at all?”

JA: “I’ve been to Santa Cruz and the beach over there. I’ve been to San Francisco. I went to San Francisco on an off day last year to watch the Giants-Rockies game. But besides that, no I rarely ever get to go out to San Francisco or anything like that.” 

DJ: “Off day, or you a golf guy or more of a relax guy? What are you trying to do on an off day?” 

JA: “I’m just trying to relax. Maybe hang out by the pool, just relax and hang out. Go to the beach. And if you do get to relax, I’m not trying to do anything that’s like a workout.” 

DJ: “Are there any places in San Jose where if someone’s coming from out town, you say, ‘Hey, this is where you need to go.’ San Jose, where would you go for one day?”

JA: “Oh, San Jose...” 

DJ: “Just go to a game? Tell them to go to a San Jose Giants game?” 

JA: “Yeah, yeah go to a San Jose Giants game and if not, Santa Cruz is 30 minutes down the road. I’d go to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is nice.” 

DJ: “And then on the field, you’re someone who hits for power. You hit 19 bombs last year. With the way different people are starting to look at the swing now, are you someone that’s actually trying to swing for the fences a little bit? Are you trying to hit a home run? What’s your approach?”

JA: “No, I feel like the more I try to hit a home run, the more I don’t. When I go in thinking line drive to the middle or stay through the middle, I feel a lot better. I know last year I didn’t start off well, and I’m not starting off well this year either, but I know if I think like I have to drive this ball or I have to hit a home run then that never happens. Try to stay simple, try to stay short is usually when things start working out.” 

DJ: “Well there’s all these different advanced analytics and you can track everything now. Are you someone that actually looks into something like launch angle or exit velocity? Or is it more see ball, hit ball?” 

JA: “I don’t like thinking about those 40-degree angles. Hitting is hard enough. To think about all that stuff is too much. But I know that a lot of people, that’s the new thing. Launch angle and try to lift the ball, and that’s all great. It’s whatever works for that person. I know Donaldson preaches it and he loves talking about it, but that’s him. That’s what works for him. I know for me, trying to lift the ball doesn’t work. When I try to lift the ball, I usually pop up. So when I’m trying to hit a hard line drive, that’s when I usually can drive that ball.” 

DJ: “Yeah it seems like when you’re practicing, you’re on the tee or getting front toss or whatever, that’s when you can kind of work on those things. But I couldn’t really imagine taking that over to the game. Once it’s game time, it’s get a pitch, be aggressive, hit it hard. Are you just trying to make things, like you said, as simple as possible once it’s go time?” 

JA: “Yeah, when I’m in the game I’m just trying to be as ready as I can for that fastball. Just see it and hit it. There’s nothing more to it, honestly. Obviously, when you’re struggling you start trying to fix things. When I’m going well, it’s never thinking about what this guy is gonna throw or make sure your foot is doing this. No, I never think about that. I think about see the ball and hit it as hard as I can.” 

DJ: “In the minor leagues, are these tracking systems as prominent or is that more available the higher you go?” 

JA: “I think it’s more available for the big leaguers. It’s hard to watch our swings on video because sometimes our games aren’t taped. We watch our home games because they are streamed, but besides that it’s hard to get all that stuff done.” 

DJ: “Can that almost be an advantage at the same time though? When you’re younger I think if you look too far into then you might press or try to do too much. If you’re just figuring things out on your own, that might even be a little better. Am I right or wrong there?” 

JA: “I think you’re both wrong and right. There’s times when you think too much and sometimes you think it’s your swing and it’s really not your swing, it’s your approach. I think that’s when it can hurt you. When you’re looking at it on video, but that was never really the problem, so then you’re changing a swing that was actually working, but your approach was what’s messed up so now you’re changing your swing and your approach. So that can hurt you. But it can also help you because if there is something mechanically wrong, you can fix it. If you can’t watch it, then how are you gonna know? When you’re in the box, you feel completely different. You never feel like that’s your swing. When you’re in the box, everything is different. When you see it on film, you see I’m dropping my hands, but in the box I’m telling myself to stay on top of the ball so you don’t think you’re dropping your hands, but you’re still dropping your hands, you know what I mean?” 

DJ: “It’s almost like a best of two evils.” 

JA: “Yeah, yeah.” 

DJ: “Back on the field, clearly you’re obviously from a very athletic family. For you, was it just baseball all the time?” 

JA: “My older brother played soccer, my oldest brother played basketball too and Nolan just played baseball. He played soccer for a little, but then went with just baseball. For me, I played basketball also. Basketball is my favorite sport.” 

DJ: “Oh, really?” 

JA: “Yeah, it was. Basketball is just so much fun. You go out and shoot down the street by your house and technically that’s practicing, you know what I mean?” 

DJ: “Oh yeah. Baseball obviously you can go hit off the tee, but basketball, I mean I shot for 20 minutes at the gym today and you feel great.” 

JA: “Yeah, you can work on so many different things. If you’re hitting like crap that day, then it’s really hard to fix it that day. Basketball, if you’re shooting and keep shooting, eventually it’s going to go in.” 

DJ: “So, who’s your team?” 

JA: “Oh, the Lakers. Unfortunately, yeah.” 

DJ: “Are you feeling good about the rebuild or how are you feeling about all that?” 

JA: “I don’t know, man. Magic Johnson’s in there, so I hope he’s the answer. But they need to get a superstar. The Lakers are my team, they have always been my team, but the players on the team are bothering me lately.” 

DJ: “I’m sure you and your brother Nolan and all of your brothers competed against each other all the time growing up. Whether it be shooting hoops or playing video games or anything else, what was the one thing, especially with Nolan, where you knew you could beat him no matter what?” 

JA: “Oh man, that’s tough. It’s really hard to beat him. Him losing to me is like death, but he’ll do anything he can to not lose to me because he knows if I win I’ll talk. I’ll just keep talking about it. It’s hard to say. There’s days in ping pong, I’m not gonna say I’m a better ping pong player, but we’re both pretty competitive. If I beat him in ping pong, I mean, it’s over. He’s distraught and then he’ll just want to rematch me until he can beat me.” 

DJ: “If you beat him, you said you’re a talker. What’s your go-to angle when it comes to trash talk?” 

JA: “I just never let him forget it. If I beat him in ping pong that series or that day, you better believe all day I’m gonna wear it out.” 

DJ: “Were you guys video game guys at all or more outside?” 

JA: “We played video games here and there. Mostly it was outdoors. Wiffle ball was always big with me and my family. We still play to this day. We still play wiffle ball all the time.” 

DJ: “Wiffle ball, you’re in the backyard 1-on-1. Who wins between you and Nolan and if you have one pitch, what are you throwing him?” 

JA: “Throwing him? I’m throwing fastball at his face.”

DJ: “Fastball at his face?!?” 

JA: “I’m just kidding, just kidding.” 

DJ: “That might be the only way the Giants can slow him down.” 

JA: “I’ll throw some chin music and then try to throw a little changeup away.” 

DJ: “I got you there, I got you. One last question. Video game wise, if EA Sports could bring back college baseball or college football, what are you picking?” 

JA: “Baseball.” 

DJ: “That was the go-to right there.” 

JA: “I forgot, but there was a college baseball game. I forgot which one it was that we played all the time, but it was one of the best games we ever played.” 

DJ: “I remember they had Texas on the cover or something like that—”

JA: “Exactly! That’s exactly the one.” 

DJ: “They have to bring it back.” 

JA: “That game is the best.”