Snakes attack, Giants dethroned


Snakes attack, Giants dethroned

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks completed an improbable run to their first NL West crown in four years, beating San Francisco 3-1 Friday night when rookie Paul Goldschmidt lined a two-run triple off Sergio Romo in the eighth inning.Manager Kirk Gibson's team completed its worst-to-first turnaround in raucous fashion, rallying to beat the Giants with Chase Field buzzing as it rarely did over the past couple of seasons.
URBAN: Cain haunted by torture
A year after going 65-97, Arizona is 91-66 in its first full season under Gibson and heading to the playoffs."I don't care if it's your first year or your 10th year, it's what you set out to do," Gibson said.Ryan Roberts got the go-ahead burst started with a double off Matt Cain (12-11) and Goldschmidt finished it off with his first career triple to the corner in right.David Hernandez (5-3) struck out two after allowing a one-out single in the eighth and J.J. Putz sent the Diamondbacks pouring onto the field with his 44th save."These are the moments you live for," said Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young, who squeezed the last out.The loss dropped the defending World Series champion Giants five games behind Atlanta for the NL wild-card spot. Orlando Cabrera hit his first homer 124 at-bats for San Francisco, which has just five games left."We are breathing. Five games left, we are still breathing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That is why there is no need to talk. We've still got baseball."Behind Gibson's attention-to-detail approach and with a roster of players who seemed to take turns coming through in the clutch, Arizona celebrated its first division crown since 2007 by mobbing Putz near the plate. Fireworks shot out of the scoreboard after Young pulled in the final out and the champagne flowed inside the clubhouse and out, with a handful of players returning to shower their families, friends, even a few of the fans in the front row."This is what I was hoping to do when I woke up this morning," Putz said after his 23rd straight save.What a run it was.Predicted to be another also-ran after a pair of 90-loss seasons, Arizona started the season on a downturn, already 6 12 games out of first by the end of April.Then something clicked.Arizona went through a magnificent May, closing the month 15-3 to take the NL West lead and stayed near the top through July. The Diamondbacks seized control of the division at the end of August into September, going up by as much as 9 12 games before San Francisco came charging back with an eight-game winning streak.But after winning three of four to start this week, Arizona found itself on the cusp of its first NL West title since 2007, needing to beat the Giants just once in the weekend series to pop the corks.As they have all season, the Diamondbacks had to rally to get the clincher.Arizona starter Joe Saunders was hit hard and often, but gave up just one run - on Cabrera's solo homer in the fifth - on nine hits in seven innings to keep Arizona close.Cain was 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA his previous eight starts against the Diamondbacks and again had them baffled early, getting them to swing over his big-breaking curveball or pound it into the ground.Arizona finally got to Cain in the seventh inning, when the right-hander walked Goldschmidt with one out and Young followed with a line-drive double to the wall in left-center to tie the game at 1-all.That set up the eighth-inning rally and, later, a celebration that moved from near second base to the clubhouse, with a brief stop at the dugout steps to acknowledge fans who had been waiting four long years for this moment."They are a team that really does play until the end," said Cain, who allowed three runs on five hits in 7 1-3 innings. "They find different guys each night to spark plug the offense."NOTES: Giants RF Carlos Beltran had a not-so-glamorous moment in the sixth inning, falling face first in the dirt after stepping on his bat while trying to run out a grounder. ... Saturday's game between the Giants and Diamondbacks is a sellout. ... RHP Ian Kennedy will go for win No. 21 against the Giants in the middle game of the series. He's allowed one run or less in 16 starts this season after matching a career-high with 12 strikeouts in eight scoreless innings against Pittsburgh the last time out. ... Rookie LHP Eric Surkamp is expected to pitch for the Giants after having his start pushed back a day to line up Cain to pitch in the season finale.

Cubs come alive behind Schwarber, Arrieta; World Series tied 1-1


Cubs come alive behind Schwarber, Arrieta; World Series tied 1-1


CLEVELAND -- Jake Arrieta made a teasing run at history, Kyle Schwarber drove in two runs and the Chicago Cubs brushed off a shutout to even the World Series with their first Fall Classic win in 71 years, 5-1 over the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Arrieta carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, briefly invoking Don Larsen's name, before the Indians touched him for two hits and a run. However, the right-hander helped give Chicago just what it needed - a split at Progressive Field - before the Cubbies return to their Wrigley Field den for the next three games starting Friday night.

The Cubs hadn't won in the Series since beating Detroit 8-7 in 1945 to force Game 7.

The free-swinging Schwarber, who made it back for Chicago's long-awaited Series return after missing most of the season with an injured left knee, hit an RBI single in the third off Cleveland's Trevor Bauer and had another in the Cubs' three-run fifth - highlighted by Ben Zobrist's run-scoring triple.

Even the presence of star LeBron James and the NBA champion Cavaliers, sporting their new rings, couldn't stop the Indians from losing for the first time in six home games this postseason.

And Cleveland manager Terry Francona's magical touch in October finally fizzled as he dropped to 9-1 in Series games.

With rain in the forecast, Major League Baseball moved the first pitch up an hour in hopes of avoiding delays or a postponement.

It turned out to be a good call as the game went on without a hitch and ended after more than four hours as light rain was beginning to fall.

Arrieta and the Cubs provided the only storm.

The bearded 30-year-old coasted through five innings without allowing a hit, the first pitcher to get that deep in a Series game with a no-hitter since David Cone of the New York Yankees in 1998.

For a brief period, Arrieta looked as if he might challenge Larsen's gem - a perfect game - in 1956 before Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, a die-hard Cubs fan as a kid, doubled with one out in the sixth.

Before that, Cleveland hitters had a couple good swings, and drew three walks, but couldn't mount a real threat. Arrieta has two career no-hitters, in fact, including the only one in the majors this year.

Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery replaced Arrieta and worked two scoreless innings before Aroldis Chapman came in and unleashed his 103 mph heat while getting the last four outs.

The teams will have an off day before the series resumes with Game 3 at Wrigley, which will host its first Series game since Oct. 6, 1945, when tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave with his pet goat, Murphy, and a curse was born.

Josh Tomlin will start for the Indians, who will lose the designated hitter in the NL ballpark, against Kyle Hendricks.

Schwarber might also wind up on the bench after two days as the DH.

With a gametime temperature of 43, the weather was more fitting for the Browns and Bears to bang heads than the boys of summer.

The Cubs were the ones who came up thumping after being blanked 6-0 in Game 1 by Corey Kluber and Cleveland's shut-down bullpen.

Zobrist's one-out triple triggered the fifth as the Cubs opened a 5-0 lead, not that Arrieta needed it.

After Anthony Rizzo walked following a 10-pitch at-bat, Zobrist laced a ball off Zach McAllister that was going to be a double until right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall slipped and fell. Rizzo was waved around and Zobrist hustled into third.

Schwarber followed with his second RBI and reliever Bryan Shawn later walked No. 9 hitter Addison Russell with the bases loaded.

Unlike his start in Toronto on Oct. 17, when his stitched cut opened up and Bauer was forced to make a bloody departure in the first inning, his finger held up fine.

The Cubs, though, put a few nicks in him in 3 2/3 innings.

The drone accident has brought attention to the quirky Bauer, and one Chicago fan tried to rattle the right-hander by sending a smaller version of the remote-controlled, flying object that cut him.

Bauer posted a photo of it on Twitter, saying "I see the (at)Cubs fans love me! How nice of them to send me a gift!"

The Cubs, who were off balance from the start against Kluber, scored their first run in a Series game since `45 in the first on Rizzo's RBI double.

Bauer needed 51 pitches to get through two innings, and he was one strike from getting out of the third unscathed when Chicago turned a walk and to singles into a 2-0 lead.

Cubs: Hendricks is coming off his brilliant performance in Game 5 of the NLCS when he pitched two-hit ball for seven innings as the Cubs clinched their first pennant in 71 years. The right-hander went 16-8 during the regular season with a league-leading 2.13 ERA.

Indians: It will be an emotional night for Tomlin, who will pitch on 12 day's rest with his ailing father, Jerry, in attendance. The elder Tomlin became stricken with a spinal condition in August, when Tomlin was struggling on the mound. The right-hander more than recovered and rescued Cleveland's rotation in the postseason, winning both starts.

Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League


Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League

After the Giants selected him in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft, catcher Aramis Garcia quickly opened eyes with his power. Garcia totaled 15 home runs between Rookie Ball and Short Season Single-A in only 28 games after the draft. 

The next year, Garcia equaled his 15 long balls and spent the majority of his first full pro season at High Single-A. He also improved overall as a hitter, raising his 2014 slash line of .225/.301/.343 to .264/.342/.431 in 2015. Garcia's promotion to the next rung in the farm system ladder -- the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels -- was derailed by a rough injury. 

He sustained a facial fracture in May while sliding into second base, taking a knee to the face in an attempt to break up a double play. The injury kept him out until the end of July and limited Garcia to 47 games in 2016.

When the chance to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions arose, Garcia jumped at the opportunity. 

"First thing I did was call my parents and let them know," Garcia told on Monday. "I was just really excited for getting the opportunity to play against guys who are extremely talented and obviously make up for reps, which are extremely important."

Garcia never did exactly find his rhythm after the injury and finished the season batting .257/.323/.340 with two homers in 41 games. In the first half, the 23-year-old hit .298/.359/.369 compared to a lowly .200/.273/.300 in the second half. 

The catcher known more for his offense than defense is off to a slow start at the plate while facing some of the top prospects in baseball. Through six games, he has gone 3-for-17 at the plate, good for a .176 average. But, Garcia acknowledged he's focusing heavily on his defense in the AFL. 

"I feel like when somebody tries to steal on me, I tend to take it a little bit personally," he said. "It's definitely something I take pride in, something I work on hard every day. There's a little routine I do with receiving and footwork, things like that every day."

Behind the dish, Garcia caught 38 percent of base runners looking to swipe a bag on him last season. Through his three years in the minors, Garcia has erased 34 percent of base stealers and owns a .993 fielding percentage.