Giants

Romo, Giants continue to dispel myths

920945.jpg

Romo, Giants continue to dispel myths

BOX SCORE
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.
RELATED: Cardinals channel history
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.

Tough luck: Rich Hill throws nine no-hit innings, loses on walk-off HR in 10th

richhill01-ap.jpg
AP

Tough luck: Rich Hill throws nine no-hit innings, loses on walk-off HR in 10th

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- Dodgers lefty Rich Hill lost his perfect game on an error in the ninth inning, then lost his no-hitter on a leadoff home run in the 10th by Josh Harrison that sent the Pittsburgh Pirates over Los Angeles 1-0 Wednesday night.

Hill became the first pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1995 to take a no-hit try into extra innings.

The Pirates didn't have a runner until Jordy Mercer led off the ninth with a sharp grounder that smacked off third baseman Logan Forsythe's glove for an error. Hill retired the next three batters.

Hill (9-5) came back out for the 10th and Harrison sent his 99th pitch of the night into the first row of seats in left field, just out of the reach of Los Angeles leftfielder Curtis Granderson. Hill struck out 10 without a walk.

Juan Nicasio (2-5) picked up the win after working the top of the 10th.

After Mercer reached in the ninth, Hill quickly retired the next three batters. Chris Stewart laid down a sacrifice bunt, Jose Osuna grounded out to Forsythe and when shortstop Corey Seager gobbled up a grounder by Starling Marte, Hill held the Pirates hitless for nine innings.

But to get official credit for a no-hitter under Major League Baseball rules, a pitcher must complete the game - going nine innings isn't enough if it goes into extras. Back in 1959, a Pirates pitcher had perhaps the most famous near-miss of all when Harvey Haddix lost his perfect game and the game itself in the 13th at Milwaukee.

In what's been a charmed season for the Dodgers, a 37-year-old journeyman received an ovation from the Pirates crowd at PNC Park as he walked off the mound after the ninth. A large mass of fans clad in Dodger blue sitting behind the Los Angeles dugout rose to its feet after taking in the latest remarkable night in a season full of them for the team chasing the best regular season record in major-league history.

Rather than go to the best bullpen in the majors, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts sent Hill back out to see if he could keep the no-hitter going.

The appearance of his No. 44 jersey sent a jolt through the crowd of 19,859. It also proved to be one inning too many.

One batter, in fact. Hill could only watch the ball sail over the fence and, without expression, walked to the dugout.

"We knew we had a chance to win with one hit," Harrison said later.

Harrison broke up a no-hit bid by Detroit's Justin Verlander with two outs in the ninth in 2012. That game ended in a Pittsburgh loss. This one ended with Harrison sprinting toward a mob of teammates at home plate while Hill left as the losing pitcher following the best game of his career.

Hill raced through eight innings thanks in part to impeccable control and some spectacular defense behind him, most notably a diving grab by second baseman Chase Utley on a liner by Josh Bell leading off the eighth.

Bell was ruled safe on a close play at first in the second inning, but the call was overturned when replay showed Hill tagged him just before his foot hit the bag. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez also made a sliding grab on a bunt attempt by Harrison in the fourth but otherwise, Hill was in firm command.

Hill had come close to perfection in the past. Last Sept. 10, he retired all 21 batters at Miami before Roberts pulled him after seven innings and 89 pitches because of a recurrence of blisters on his pitching hand. He also was dealing with a groin injury.

In December, Hill re-signed as a free agent with the Dodgers, getting a three-year deal worth $48 million. The contract was quite a reward for a former journeyman who, as recently as 2015, was pitching for the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League.

Hill began this night with a 47-32 record in a career that began in 2005 and took him from the Chicago Cubs to Baltimore, then to Boston, Cleveland, the Angels, the Yankees, Oakland and the Dodgers. Hill has overcome serious injuries during his career, including a torn labrum in 2009 and elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2011.

Trevor Williams matched Hill out for out, if not pitch for pitch. The Pirates rookie kept Los Angeles off the board for eight innings, letting Hill to line out in the fourth to leave the bases loaded in the fourth, using a pair of double plays in the fifth and sixth and getting Forsythe to line out after a nine-pitch at bat with two on and two outs in the eighth.

The Pirates have been no-hit nine teams in team history. For nine innings it looked like they were on their way to a 10th. One swing from Harrison changed all that.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (lower back strain) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday. Roberts said the team considered having Kershaw return directly to the majors on Saturday but decided to exercise caution with such a large lead in the division. ... RHP Yu Darvish (lower back tightness) will be activated off the disabled list on Sunday and start against Milwaukee.

Pirates: Trainer Todd Tomczyk is "optimistic" RF Gregory Polanco will return from a strained left hamstring before the end of the season. Polanco is currently on the 10-day disabled list for a third time this season because of hamstring trouble. ... C Francisco Cervelli (left wrist inflammation) is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday and could return to the lineup.

UP NEXT:
Dodgers: Hyun-Jin Riu (4-6, 3.45 ERA) is undefeated in his last eight starts, going 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA since June 17.

Pirates: Chad Kuhl (6-8, 4.52) will try to bounce back from his worst start of the season on Thursday. Kuhl gave up eight runs in three-plus innings last week against St. Louis.

Two events in Wednesday's win show change in Jarrett Parker's luck

Two events in Wednesday's win show change in Jarrett Parker's luck

SAN FRANCISCO -- There have been more than 6,500 doubles hit in the big leagues this season. Only 55 have had an exit velocity of less than 62 mph. Only five of those 55 came with the go-ahead run on base.

So, it was a somewhat rare event when Jarrett Parker checked his swing, accidentally made contact, and drove in the go-ahead run with a two-run double. On a related note, Parker didn't care.

He's not one for luck or karma. He's also not a big student of exit velocity. Asked if he wanted to know how hard his double was hit, Parker shook his head.

"Nope," he said. "Don't care."

The rest of the team didn't, either. The Giants figure they're owed a few more in this down year, and nobody cared how the winning run came across in a 4-2 victory over the Brewers.

"You hear good things happen when you put the ball in play, and he did," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's a break for us and we'll take it. It went our way there with that check-swing, which you'll take. We've had some tough breaks."

For a moment after the series clinching win, Parker thought he had suffered another bad one. He felt something grab in his right arm as he went up for the celebratory jump with the rest of the outfield, and he said he was thinking about it as he jogged off the field. Parker missed 96 games earlier this year after fracturing his clavicle. That delayed what appears to be a bit of a breakout. Parker said his arm felt fine once he got back to the clubhouse. 

"I was worried about it at first but I shook it off," he said. "It was just a cramp."

That was a relief for Parker, and it kept the good vibes going. After the way Parker's season started, he certainly is owed a bit more in that department.