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Urban: Without pressure, Giants are flourishing

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Urban: Without pressure, Giants are flourishing

Sept. 16, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

Pretty amazing what the absence of pressure can do for a team, isn't it?The Giants made it six wins in a row Friday night with another victory in Colorado, and it might have been the most stress-free triumph of the season.After four taut frames, Brandon Belt broke things up with a two-run homer that surely left him wondering what life might be like playing 81 games a year at altitude, and Madison Bumgarner pretty much took it from there.The rest of the Giants' offense followed Belt's lead, piling on as any wise Coors Field foe knows is necessary, and Bumgarner continued to confound. How a kid that young, with that heavy a workload over the past two seasons, can keep getting better and stronger as the season wears on is simply mind-boggling.It all added up to a win that, coupled with the Braves' loss, trimmed San Francisco's deficit in the National League wild-card race to five games with 11 games to play.
RECAP: Bumgarner, Stewart propel Giants past Rockies 9-1
Insurmountable? No. Baseball's a crazy game.Daunting? Totally. It'll take a fairly epic collapse by Atlanta, a similarly spectacular slide by St. Louis, and eight or nine more wins by the Giants for any of this to mean anything of consequence.But who cares at this point? It's been a week or so since most realistic fans have come to grips with the defending champions going home before October opens, and what's happening right now sure beats the heck out of watching a series of 2-1, or 3-2, or 1-0 reminders of what went wrong -- even if those scores were in San Francisco's favor.The absence of pressure brings home runs off the bat of Chris Stewart. It brings Brandon Crawford in the starting lineup. It brings Barry Zito out of the bullpen for the ninth inning, of all things, and if that's not a strange sight to you, spare us the details of your night life. We don't want to know.Playoffs? Stop it. Not gonna happen.That doesn't mean, however, that you can't savor every last second of the 2011 season. Your boys are the champions of the world for 11 more games -- heck, they're the champs until somebody dogpiles in the middle of a diamond somewhere late next month -- and they're winning games again. It could be a heck of a lot worse. You've seen it a lot worse. So just sit back and enjoy the release of pressure while you can.

Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

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AP

Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

SACRAMENTO -- A young man named Clayton Blackburn walked into the home clubhouse at Raley Field on Tuesday decked out in Round Rock gear. 

"You're here for my start?" he said, smiling.

Sorry, Clayton, I was on Panda Watch for two days. But it was fun watching Blackburn, DFA’d in a weird move earlier this year, face former teammates. Blackburn hasn't had a great season with Texas, but he is still just 24 and he has gotten into terrific shape. Given what happened during his call-up last year, you should root for him to get a second chance. 

Blackburn gave up three runs over six innings against his former team. The River Cats won on Jarrett Parker’s walk-off homer to dead center with two outs in the ninth. Parker was one of many familiar faces in the lineup Tuesday. Here are some thoughts on guys you know, and guys you will: 

--- Trevor Brown is the backup catcher in Sacramento, which is certainly a fall from his run as Buster Posey's backup. Brown is batting .168 in what has been a very frustrating season for him. The groin injury that slowed him early lingered, he had a concussion, and he hasn't been able to find any BABIP luck. This year seems a lost one for a guy who was a big part of 2016. I’m still intrigued by his versatility.

--- Chris Shaw is the latest podcast guest. You can stream it here. We talked about his power, his move to left, thinking he was a Ray, and more. I didn't see many at-bats, but I saw enough in left field to be confident he'll be fine out there. 

--- Parker started in center field and made a nice running catch at the wall. He wouldn't hold up as a big league center fielder, but perhaps the Giants should throw him out there a few times down the stretch to see if he can be a backup option next season. Parker said he finally found his swing over the past few games. His rehab assignment ends in about a week, and he’s expected back in San Francisco. 

--- Reyes Moronta, who spent a day in the majors in May, was promoted to Triple-A. In his first inning, Drew Stubbs took him deep. I found that quirky. It's been a long season with far too many transactions. 

--- If Steven Duggar would stay healthy, he would probably make it up to SF in September. Unfortunately, his hamstring was tight again this week, keeping him out of San Jose’s lineup for a few days. Speaking of health: Tyler Beede’s groin injury will keep him out longer than just the standard DL time … Melvin Upton Jr. is still in Sacramento rehabbing a shoulder injury, but he’s not throwing yet so it’s hard to picture him making any noise before September call-up time …Christian Arroyo is in Arizona rehabbing from hand surgery. 

--- Derek Law was smiling because Derek Law is always smiling. He has a 4.32 ERA but said he feels much better than those results. “My slider is back,” Law said. He should be, too, when the Giants expand their roster. There are some other interesting relievers in Sacramento. A first baseman told me opposing hitters grumble about facing D.J. Snelten (1.84 ERA) and Tyler Rogers has a 1.94 ERA as a dirt-scraping right-hander. 

--- A teammate predicted Carlos Moncrief would hit .270 in the big leagues if called up, and he ended up getting that call Wednesday morning. Moncrief is a fun clubhouse addition. He gave Sandoval some good-natured heckling for talking to reporters after going 1 for 4. 

--- The Giants have had a lot of veterans visit San Jose this season. They all bought the postgame spread, but word around the block is that Madison Bumgarner provided the best meal. He had steak and lobster delivered to San Jose Muni. 

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Eduardo Nuñez left San Francisco in a strange way. The third baseman was traded in the middle of Tuesday night’s game and mostly said his goodbyes in a stairwell behind the home dugout at AT&T Park. Before joining the Red Sox, Nuñez took to his social media pages to send a message to the Giants and their fans. 

On Twitter, Nuñez thanked the organization for “the great opportunity and experiences learned” and wished the team the best of luck. His Instagram message was a bit longer. 

“I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing team,” Nuñez wrote. “I value the experiences learned during my time here and I will miss my teammates, the fans, and the beautiful city of San Francisco very much. Best wishes to the Giants organization during the rest of this season. God Bless.”

Nuñez is expected to join the Red Sox on Friday. Boston’s manager, John Farrell, told reporters that his new infielder will get “a high number of at-bats” despite the presence of top prospect Rafael Devers. 

"This is someone who's swinging the bat very well right now,” Farrell said, according to MassLive.com. "A high energy player that can run the bases well. He’s got really good line drive power so his .300-plus batting average to mix into this lineup is a good addition."