Giants

Should Sabean get Giants a new closer?

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Should Sabean get Giants a new closer?

When Brian Sabean goes to sleep, chances are he dreams ofacquiring a reliable closer and a power hitter. When the Giants GM wakes up,however, he must face the fact that a utility infielder and a mediocre relieverare the only additions he can afford.Santiago Casilla, filling in for Brian Wilson while the All-Star closer sitsout the 2012 season, has performed admirably. But he has run into trouble moreoften than not since the Giants series in Oakland from June 22-24.Just because a portion of the fan base is screaming for anew stopper doesnt mean Sabean is working the phones for one. And he is limitedby a weak farm system and budget room. Regardless, lets examine five obviousoptions for him to kick the tires on in case Casilla cant continue to getthe job done:Jonathan Broxton: An overweight ex-Dodger is probably notGiants fans No. 1 choice, but its hard to ignore his 2.14 ERA and 22 saves.Filling in for Joakim Soria in Kansas City, Broxton has allowed just one home run in 33.2innings and is making 4 million this season on a one-year deal. Because of hisimpending free agency and the Royals lack of playoff hopes, Royals GM Dayton Mooremight not ask for much in return. On the other hand, because of the way theMelky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez trade has worked out, Moore might just hang up when he seesSabeans name on his caller ID. Broxton, a right-hander, has much more experiencethan Casilla in the closers role, but is still working on his first sub-4.00ERA season since 2009. With that in mind, its safe to assume that Sabean hassome concerns about Broxton regressing and if he truly represents an upgradeover the in-house options. Finally, presented without comment, is this pictureof Broxtons baseball pants being put to good use.
Huston Street:In his MLB career with the Athletics, Rockiesand Padres, Street owns a 1.80 ERA and 12 saves against the Giants. Currentlystuck with a fourth-place team in San Diego, Street owns a miniscule 1.08 ERA and 14 savesand has yet to give up a home run in 26 games this season. In the final year ofa three-year, 22.5 million contract he signed in 2010 when with Colorado, Street is thePadres highest paid player in 2012 with a 7.5 million salary. If the Padresdont move their right-handed closer before the deadline, they will be facedwith a choice of a 9 million option (player decides, club can decline) or a500,000 buyout. Trading Street makes sense for San Diego and it shouldnt takeSabean more than a mid-level talent (maybe from the catching prospect surplus)to send Street to San Francisco.Matt Capps: With 138 career saves and a lifetime ERA of3.50, Capps is certainly a qualified candidate to take over for Casilla. Afterstruggling in 2011, his first full season with the Minnesota Twins, Capps had astrong start to his 2012 campaign before soreness in his right (throwing)shoulder made him miss about three weeks. Now healthy, Capps is being easedback into ninth-inning responsibilities with the Twins, who are certainlyshopping Capps and his 4.75 million 2012 salary and 6 million 2013 option (or250,000 buyout). At 36-52 entering Mondays games, the Twins have no need forsuch a seasoned closer. If Sabean believes the Giants have that need, heprobably has the prospectspayroll to give Bruce Bochy a new bullpen optionbefore the trade deadline. Brett Myers: Like Street, Myers is thehighest paid player on a losing team. Those types usually get traded, and thestarter-turned-closer-turned-starter-turned-closer is unlikely to be theexception. A 31-year-old right-hander making 11 million with the HoustonAstros, Myers has a 3.64 ERA and 18 saves, but has given up four home runs in29.2 innings and has struck out just 19 batters. Myers owned a 1.99 ERA inmid-June, but has had some ugly outings over the last month. So while his tradevalue has certainly taken a hit, Sabean may still view Myers as an upgrade overCasilla, in which case he will be asking first-year Astros GM Jeff Luhnhow whatit would take to acquire Myers.Francisco Rodriguez: Just like Broxtonsties to the Dodgers, Rodriguezs affiliation with the 2002 World Series loss tothe Angels wouldnt make him very popular as a Giant. However, K-Rods dominantintroduction to the big leagues is water under the Bay Bridgeand he could certainly help the Giants bullpen. Now the Milwaukee Brewersright-handed set-up man, Rodriguez owns a 3.76 ERA and still has his strikeoutpitch working, with 38 in 40.2 innings. Its a far cry from his 2004 season,which included a 1.82 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 84.0 innings, but Rodriguez isstill a valuable bullpen arm. With John Axford holding down the closer role inMilwaukee, Rodriguez hasnt faced the pressure of getting the final three outsas often, but with 292 career saves he certainly has proven himself to be capableof closing. If the Brewers continue to fall from contention, look for Sabean tosee if he can get GM Doug Melvin to part ways with Rodriguez at a discount.The aforementioned five names would all be realistic possibilities for Sabeanand Co. to bring to San Francisco.However, is it realistic to think that any of these candidates would be able toavoid the natural ups and downs that any big league closer goes through?Casilla has struggled lately, but has still stepped up in Wilsons absence. When Casilla has control,his high-speed arsenal makes him one of the most dominant closers in the game,as he demonstrated earlier this season. Is it worth the risk of giving up aprospect or two and taking on added payroll for what might be a modest upgradeat best and a downgrade at worst?

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

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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.