Urban: NLDS Live Playoff Blog, Game 2


Urban: NLDS Live Playoff Blog, Game 2

UPDATED: 9:30 P.M.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Boy, was I wrong.All night long, since Pat Burrell's three-run homer in the first inning, I've been saying the game was over. But Sergio Romo couldn't get an out in the eighth, leaving runners atthe corners for Brian Wilson, and an error by third baseman PabloSandoval, a sacrifice bunt, and a two-run double by Alex Gonzalez justtied the game at 4-4 in a matter of minutes.Torture, anyone?Of course. What was I thinking? These are the 2010 Giants. Nothing comes easy. UPDATED: 8:52 P.M.
Matt Cain, who came up empty exactly a week ago when he had a chance to clinch the NL West championship against the Padres, just walked off the mound at AT&T Park to a loud and well-deserved standing ovation.Following the lead of Tim Lincecum, who refused to be overwhelmed by the pressure of pitching in his first playoff game Thursday night, Cain was only slightly less effective Friday.Cain's outing wasn't nearly as flashy as was Lincecum's, but that's pretty much always the case. If Lincecum is Hendrix. Cain is Andy Summers, the quietly spectacular guitarist for the Police.All Cain did was work 6 23 innings, allowing only an unearned run while scattering seven hits and two walks. He struck out seven.Not exactly the Rembrandt that Lincecum painted on Thursday. More like the reliable, affordable, durable work provided by the local house painter who buys you a beer when he's done with the job.Cain left the game with two out and a runner on first. Lefty Javier Lopez came on to retire Jason Heyward, a left-handed hitter, leaving the Giants six outs from taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the first-to-three-wins series.Im not even going to mention that I think this games over anymore. The standing-O that just washed over Cain as he strolled off the field said it best.
UPDATED: 8:29 P.M.The Braves finally made their first offensive noise of the series in the sixth inning when Brian McCann's single scored Derrek Lee from second base to make it 4-1 with nobody out.But it wasn't exactly the kind of outburst that had anyone associated or rooting for the Giants quaking in their Uggs.Lee was at second only because Giants left fielder Pat Burrell, who has only a slightly better chance of wining a Gold Glove than does Edward Scissorshands, bobbled Lee's single.McCann's single was legit, as was Lee's, but Cain quickly righted himself after a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti.What, you have to wonder, went down during that discussion? Rags: Sorry, man. He's Pat the Bat, not Pat the GloveCain: No worries, brah. Pat hit a three-run jack. He's still plus-two.Rags: Did you just say, "Brah"?Cain: No, Urban pretended I did. Come on, dude, I'm from Memphis. We leave people who say "Brah" bloodied in the fetal position behind the bait-and-tackle shop down on General Grant Street.Rags: OK. Go get 'em.And he did. Three up, three down, disaster averted.Did I mention that I think this game is over?UPDATED: 8:11 P.M.I pride myself on paying attention to detail, but I missed a biggie here in the first few innings.The rally towels -- a tired notion if there ever was one -- have been replaced by orange pom-pons.Pom-pons? That's actually the correct spelling, by the way, and who on earth knows why?
This is what goes though my head when the game starts dragging a little. But guess I should give you a game update, huh? Matt Cain gave up a single to Nate McClouth, who was pinch hitting for Braves starter Tommy Hanson, with one out in the fifth inning, and Omar Infante followed with a walk.All of a sudden, the Braves had a little life. In bars all across Georgia, the tomahawk chop was in full force. Jason Heyward was stepping to the plate, and here was his chance to show everyone that Buster Posey isn't the only rookie with a flair for the dramatic. One big swing and it's 4-3. New ballgame. Alas, Heyward's swing did nothing more than produce a ground ball to shortstop Juan Uribe that was tailor-made for an inning-ending double play, and for the 74th time of the night, the crowd went nuts.Cain's working on a four-hit shutout, by the way, and Hanson's gone after four innings. Did I mention that I think this game is over?UPDATED: 8 P.M.Is Chipper Jones managing the Braves with Bobby Cox out? he's being interviewed on the telecast as I type, and it just looks weird. Whatever. Chipper's a stud and a likely Hall of Famer. Let the guy wax all he wants.Meanwhile, the rest of us are being entertained by the "Kiss Cam" here at the yard. I swear, it's my favorite between-innings entertainment of all time. I don't know why, but it just cracks me up. And whenever it pops up, I warn those around me: If the camera finds us, we WILL play tonsil hockey. I don't care if it's Ray Ratto. I'm all about entertaining the masses, and I'll take any cheap laugh I can get.Don't think I'm kidding, either. In Kansas City a few years ago, the "Kiss Cam" found me and a friend of mine from MLB.com sitting together. Imagine his surprise when I went for him like a Serpent Gone Wild.He resisted, of course, so the scene nobody in the Midwest wanted to see never happened, but it did get a big roar from the crowd, and that's all that really matters. UPDATED: 7:33 P.M.Love that the Giants voted to wear their orange jerseys tonight. They opened the season 9-0 on Orange Friday, but they never won at home on Friday again during the regular season, including that deflating loss to the Padres in which Matt Cain could have slammed the NL West door on the Friars.It would have been easy to ditch the Mike Ivie look for the playoffs, but these Giants don't bail on anything. Orange Friday is almost like a holiday, and the playoffs are like Christmas to begin with. Thus, Orange Friday during the playoffs is like the product of Easter and Halloween mating and putting the little one on HGH.What does that even mean? I don't know. I'm kind of caught up in this whole deal, too. What I do know is that what I just saw from Cain is a very good sign.
As soon as Derrek Lee lifted a fly ball to left field with two out in the top of the third inning, Cain didn't look at the ball or Lee or anything but the dugout, to which he purposefully strode like a man certain that the world is his for the night.Did I mention yet that I think this game is already over?Braves manager Bobby Cox has been tossed out of more baseball games than Kenny Powers has been tossed out of bars.Only Cox isn't fictional. His reaction to an incredible play by Giants shortstop Juan Uribe for the second out in the top of the second inning, however, suggested that he's living in a different world.Uribe, ranging deep into the hole to his right on a smash off the bat of Alex Gonzalez, unleashed the beast that is his right arm and got Gonzalez by a good half-step. Cox, though, saw something different.Maybe it was an homage of sorts to umpire Paul Emmel, who thought he saw Buster Posey steal second base in the fourth inning of Game 1. Or maybe Cox finally wanted a piece of Emmel, who deliciously enough is the ump at first base tonight. UPDATED: 7:24 P.M.Whatever the case, Cox got himself tossed again by arguing the call a bit too vociferously, and the momentum is squarely in the Giants' corner at this point. Cody Ross just ran in the face of Braves left fielder Melky Cabrera on what for most people would be a routine single to left, and Matt Cain followed with an RBI single that made it 4-0, Giants.As I said in my earlier post, this game is over. No way Cain coughs this up. A choker he is not.Cox, meanwhile, is probably choking down a few pops in the clubhouse at this point. He's been around. He probably saw this coming.
UPDATED: 7:11 P.M.As if Pat Burrell hadn't already been fully embraced by Giants fans as a god of sorts, he cemented such a few moments ago when he pummeled a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers with two out in the bottom of the first inning. It came just as another sellout crowd was staring to get a bit edgy, but the mood quickly turned to ebullient when Burrell's deep drive cleared the wall.Remember my keys to tonight's game? One was Matt Cain handing the adrenaline sure to surge through his veins during his first playoff start, and he did that by throwing up a zero in the top of the first. He allowed a leadoff single to Omar Infante and walked Brian McCann with two out, but he wiggled out of the mini-jam by rolling Melky Cabrera to second base to the delight of the 43,000-plus fans fired up for Orange Friday.That was nothing compared to how fired up the crowd got when Burrell, after a one-out single by Freddy Sanchez and a two-out walk by Buster Posey, went souvenir guy.The story keeps getting better for Burrell, and the collision course with his former club in Philly seems almost predestined at this point,Another key was getting Cain an early lead. The Giants are 19-2 in the past 21 games in which they've scored first. Lock it in now. This is a given. The Giants will win this game, and the record will move to 20-2.

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

NEW YORK — Jed Lowrie is the counterpoint to the A’s home run-crazed offensive attack.

Sure, the A’s switch-hitting second baseman can muscle up and clear the fence. But Lowrie’s approach is more about spraying base hits all around and using the whole field. He was at it again in Friday’s 4-1 A’s victory over the Yankees, going 3-for-4 and delivering an RBI single that snapped a scoreless tie in the eighth.

“I always have to carry his glove out to second for him because he’s always on base,” shortstop Adam Rosales said. “He looks really good at the plate right now, and he’s kind of just putting us on his back. It’s contagious to see a guy like that doing so well.”

Lowrie bumped his average up to .310 with Friday’s game. Until he grounded out in the sixth, he’d notched hits in seven consecutive at-bats dating back to Tuesday night. That streak fell one shy of the A’s record for most consecutive hits. Three players share the record at eight — Josh Reddick (in 2016), Dave Magadan (1997) and Brent Gates (1994).

“It’s all about the work,” said Lowrie, whose 15 doubles are tied for third in the AL. “Everything comes together when you’re seeing it well. I’m seeing it well but the approach hasn’t changed.”

With two runners aboard and two out in the eighth, Lowrie punched an RBI single to right off Tyler Clippard for the game’s first run. It was the breakthrough the A’s needed after they’d struck out 13 times in seven innings against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. Khris Davis followed Lowrie’s hit by beating out an infield single to score another run. Then Stephen Vogt added a two-run homer in top of the ninth to make it 4-0, and that provided some cushion as closer Santiago Casilla gave up a run and made things tenser than they should have been in the bottom half.

Davis, the most fearsome hitter in Oakland’s lineup, is thrilled to have a productive Lowrie batting in front of him as the No. 3 man.

“Somebody’s gotta hit .300,” Davis said. “All year he’s been our most consistent hitter and best hitter. I hope he keeps going.”

The A’s have won four in a row at Yankee Stadium dating back to last year. It’s their longest winning streak in the Bronx since a four-gamer at the old stadium in 2006. And it was a good way to begin a seven-game road trip for the A’s, who came in with the league’s worst road record at 6-15.


Rosales had puffiness under his right eye and said he was anticipating a shiner after his hard head-first dive into third base didn’t go as planned in the eighth. He scraped up his face pretty good after going first to third on an errant pickoff throw and taking a hard dive into third, only to find the dirt wasn’t giving.

After addressing reporters, Rosales said he was on his way to find an ice pack.