Urban: NLDS Live Playoff Blog, Game 3


Urban: NLDS Live Playoff Blog, Game 3

Oct. 10, 2010



Mychael Urban
ATLANTA -- Having hustled down to the field for a little live TV and weaved my way through a mostly empty but still joyous Giants clubhouse, I'm back in the Turner Field press box now, marveling at the sea of silence and strewn-about paper.

Crunch time for a baseball writer comes after the game, but you know what? I'm all writered out.

Need proof? I just made up the word "writered."

This is my 10th blog entry of the day, and what a day it's been. Highs, lows, upper-thigh rubs from Ray Ratto. A stirring 3-2 win for San Francisco. Sensory overload.

So I'm packing up. Ray's packing up, too, and if our Senior Insider is leaving, so is this Junior.

Before I go, though, a few quick words about Madison Bumgarner, who'll get the ball for the Giants on Monday in Game 4.

Don't worry about this kid. Not one bit.

If ever a player seemed unlikely to let the hoopla affect him, it's the 21-year-old southpaw who gave his wife a bull calf for his most recent birthday and walks around looking like he's about 22 minutes removed from taking 14 Ambien.

MadBum is neither Mad nor a Bum. He's a big, strapping lad from Hickory, North Carolina, and he actually said he can't imagine the MLB Playoffs being a bigger deal than the state high school championships he played in a few years back.

I believe him. The Giants believe in him. So should you.

UPDATED: 4:50 P.M.

It's called walking the walk, and Aubrey Huff just did it.

All year long we've been hearing -- and in my case, telling -- about Huff's leadership, about his passion for the game, about thirst for postseason pressure.

And when show-me time came, Huff showed up. His two-out single to score Travis Ishikawa with the tying run in the top of the ninth was pure heart.

Speaking of heart, if you have one, it has to be going out to our friend Brooks Conrad. Wow.

Three errors, including a nutmeg grounder in the ninth to allow the go-ahead run to score? And a popped-up bunt?

He'll be lucky to get out of the players' parking lot in one piece.

UPDATED: 4:27 P.M.

It's going to be a very long winter for Sergio Romo if the Giants don't find a way to win this series.

It'll be a long one for Bruce Bochy, too, because his reputation as a players' manager just bit him hard.

How do you get such a rep? By going right back to someone who just had a bad game. It shows the guys you trust them, and in turn, they trust you.

This is not, however, a time to play buddy-buddy. It's time to play the percentages, and Romo, who gave up hits to the only two batters he faced Friday night and just gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hinske to put the Giants in a 2-1 hole entering the ninth, has retired only 40 percent of the batters he's faced in the two biggest games of San Francisco's season.

UPDATED: 4:08 P.M.
With all due respect to the Braves' bullpen, which has been fantastic in this series, the game just got a lot less interesting.

Tim Hudson is no a part of the proceedings, removed after seven innings of four-hit work and 106 pitches.

Let's give him a fond farewell. The run he allowed was unearned, he had Atlanta's only hit to far, and his barking at third-base umpire Ed Hickox in the seventh inning was a priceless little bit of theater.

No clue if Jonathan Sanchez is coming out for the bottom of the eighth, but if he leaves the game will lose more luster. He's at 100 pitches, and he's now the second lefty in Giants history to record at least 10 strikeouts in a postseason game.

They handed out foam tomahawks to every fan that passed through the gates here today, by the way, but thanks to the genius of Sanchez, the anticipated incessant chanting and chopping has been kept to a minimum.

Or maybe Braves fans finally realized how tired that whole thing is.

Probably not.

UPDATED: 3:51 P.M.
Gutsy move, Andres Torres stealing second base with two out in the top of the seventh.

Gutsy pitch, Tim Hudson fanning Freddy Sanchez to make it moot.

If this game doesn't get you going, check your pulse.

Two elite pitchers absolutely dealing in October, with something meaningful attached to everything they throw, every ball hit, every call the umpires make.

This is what we love about the postseason. Right here, right now.

It's a shame someone has to lose.

I'll be a bigger shame if the game ends up having been decided by Brooks Scissorshands.

But thats playoff baseball. Hero or goat, youre larger than life on the games big stage.

UPDATED: 3:36 P.M.
Quick: Who broke Frank Thomas' career RBIs record at Auburn University?

Same guy who just broke up Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter.

That's right. Braves starter Tim Hudson. The dude can rake. When he wasn't carving people up on the mound at Auburn, he was killing people at the plate and patrolling center field for the Tigers.

Bummer for Sanchez, who's been dominant since the outset today, but at least the hit wasn't a cheapie. Hudson laced that ball.

Now it's game on. History will have to wait. It's a battle of wills now, and neither Hudson or Sanchez is showing any signs of backing down.

UPDATED: 2:56 P.M.

We've settled into a nice little pitcher's duel here at Turner Field. Jonathan Sanchez has walked one and retired everyone else, and Tim Hudson has figured out how to avoid balls being hit to Brooks Conrad.

Meanwhile, I'm amusing myself with frequent trips to the press-room soda fountain. It is there that you find out who is here to work and who is here to pretend they're cool.

Working: Hurried, head down, sweating, speaking very little.

Trying to look cool: Sitting, legs crossed, sipping from the same Starbucks cup they've been toting around for the past four hours, waxing nostalgic about the steakhouse they visited while "covering" the Super Bowl a few years ago.

You know who looks really cool right now? Sanchez.

And he looks cool because he's working, as in working the Braves over.

They're starting to swing at everything, because what the hell? If you're going to look silly sooner or later anyway, might as well make it sooner.

UPDATED: 2:20 P.M.
There is not a hole deep enough into which Brooks Conrad could crawl right now. Braves fans would find it, rappel into it, and beat him to within an inch of his life.

Conrad, a former A's farmhand listed by the Braves as an infielder, has looked more like baseball version of Wolverine in the NLDS. He's playing second base for Atlanta, and he's not playing it well.

He kicked a ball in Game 1, he bobbled a ball in the first inning here, and he just dropped a second-inning popup that allowed Mike Fontenot to score the game's first run.

If anyone in his family has a baby this offseason, they will likely be most uncomfortable should Mr. Conrad ask to hold it.

About Fontenot's triple: Braves rookie right fielder Jason Heyward, who had a bead on it before the wall got in the way, needs to stop watching Premier League soccer.

We get it, bro. You missed the ball. You're a little embarrassed. But don't pull the I-might-be-injured card.

And if you do, for crying out loud don't take a few leisurely sips from a Gatorade cup while the trainer stands there saying, "Can I go deal with the guys who are really hurt now, Jason?"

UPDATED: 2:05 P.M.
Nerves? What nerves?

Jonathan Sanchez didn't show any sign of being nervous in the first playoff inning of his life. Popup, strikeout, walk, strikeout.

Hey, you want perfect? That's not Sanchez. He walks guys. A lot. But he's not nicknamed "Dirty" because Beavis and Butthead get a kick out of saying it. The man's stuff is pure filth, as Brian McCann discovered when he took something offspeed for the last strike of the inning.

Aubrey Huff, by the way, made a heck of a catch of that foul pop. He was staring straight into the sun, and as the ball started its descent, it was pretty clear he couldn't see it. He made a nice recovery and made the catch, but it begs the question:

Why are your sunglasses on your hat, dude? Seems like they'd be a lot more effective elsewhere. Like on your eyes or something.
UPDATED: 1:54 P.M.
Aubrey Huff absolutely has to do a better job than that.

The Braves just gave the Giants a first-inning gift when Brooks Conrad tried to field Freddy Sanchez's hit-and-run grounder to second base with a meat cleaver, putting runner at first and second with nobody out. Momentum, Giants.

Huff, though, a pitch after putting on something of a petulant show at the plate after a borderline call went against him, struck out. Momentum, Braves.

The hit-and-run call, by the way, was a great one. As I noted before the series started, putting runners in motion to stay out of double plays when sinkerballers such as Tim Hudson are on the mound is key in this series.

But what followed Huff's K was, you have to assume, another hit-and-run call, and with Buster Posey at the plate, that made sense, too. But Posey swung through the pitch, Andres Torres was gunned down at third, and Turner Field went nuts.

It went nuts again when, with the bases loaded, Juan Uribe bounced harmlessly to third base to end the inning. More momentum, Braves.

Keep this in mind, though: Hudson threw 24 pitches in the inning. A few more high-stress frames like that and he's gone.

UPDATED: 1:17 P.M.
Not as many Giants fans here as I thought there might be, but they might be saving their money for NLCS tickets.

Either way, the vibe at here at Turner Field is similar to what youfind everywhere in big-league ball this time of year. People are jackedfor playoff baseball.

How else do you explain the guy I just saw while roaming the concourse?He was wearing a Tim Hudson No. 15 jersey with red tights under cutoffjorts (jeansshorts) -- as if it wasn't already pretty clear we were inredneck country -- and an Indian headdress.

And you know what? It worked for him. It's October. Anything goes.

As they often say here in the South, right after cutting someone toribbons verbally, as if adding it makes everything ok, "Bless hisheart."

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

OAKLAND — Some 10-9 records are better than others, and so it is that the A’s can hit the road for a nine-game trip feeling pretty good about themselves.

Their just-completed homestand began with Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman leaving a game early and landing on the disabled list. That was coupled with news that shortstop Marcus Semien would be lost for two months or more with a fractured wrist.

The A’s responded to those developments with a five-game winning streak that was halted by Sunday’s 11-1 rout at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

The A’s went 5-4 on the homestand, holding their ground after a heavy dose of injury misfortune, and now the outlook changes just a bit. The focus shifts from the players joining the D.L. to those that could soon return to provide a boost.

Graveman, who has a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to throw off the mound Monday. If that goes well, expect him to be activated sometime in the early portion of the upcoming trip. Sonny Gray, who has been out since injuring a side muscle early in Cactus League games, is set to throw Thursday for Triple-A Nashville after an encouraging rehab outing Saturday for Single-A Stockton.

If Gray comes out of Thursday’s start well, look for the 2015 All-Star to join the active roster and pitch sometime against Minnesota in the final series of this road trip. Nothing can be taken for granted until both pitchers actually return healthy, but it’s a promising scenario to possibly add two starters of their caliber as April turns to May.

“I think any time you look up and you’re over .500 and you’ve had a great homestand and you’re missing your best two pitchers, that’s something to be pleased about,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Getting Kendall back is huge. And Sonny obviously did great last night, and felt great, which is more important than the results.

“We’re excited to get those two guys back but in the meantime, we’re gonna continue to keep playing the way we are because we’re playing really good baseball and we’ll just keep things rolling.”

It was clear early on Sunday that a five-game winning streak wouldn’t reach six. The Mariners led 2-0 in the third when Andrew Triggs missed location on a 1-0 sinker and Taylor Motter launched a grand slam over the wall in left-center.

Triggs, who excelled at missing the fat part of bats over his first three starts, didn’t have the feel for his cutter Sunday. When he fell behind to Motter, the cutter is normally a pitch he would have gone to had it been working for him.

“I wasn’t commanding well,” he said. “I didn’t wanna go 1-0 to 2-0. I felt better going with the sinker. I got it down, but missed location in and out. In a perfect world, the cutter would have been great to get a groundout.”

But to this point, the A’s rotation has held firm without Gray and with the short-term absence of Graveman. Perhaps the biggest test moving forward is whether an offense that is tied for the American League lead in extra-base hits can continue to produce consistently with Semien’s absence, particularly without anyone having established themselves as the regular leadoff man.

A’s manager Bob Melvin likes what he’s seen from his team in light of the injuries.

“Every game we go out there there’s an expectation to win,” Melvin said, “and when you win multiple games in a row, you get that feeling and it’s a little more significant. So hopefully we can carry that on to the road trip. As a group, we’ve been able to manage these injuries here recently, and once we start getting guys back it’s gonna be a good thing for us.”

Instant Replay: Mariners mash Triggs, A's win streak ends at five

Instant Replay: Mariners mash Triggs, A's win streak ends at five


OAKLAND – That pristine ERA wasn’t going to last forever for Andrew Triggs, and it was no secret why things took a wayward turn for the A’s right-hander Sunday.

His command deserted him in the top of the third against Seattle, and that led to a disastrous inning that told the story in an 11-1 loss that halted the A’s five-game winning streak.

Triggs, who hadn’t allowed a single earned run in winning his first three starts of 2017, walked Robinson Cano to load the bases in the third, then issued another free pass to Nelson Cruz that forced in a run and put the Mariners up 2-0. After striking out Daniel Vogelbach, Triggs caught too much plate with a 1-0 pitch and Taylor Motter drilled it for a grand slam that made it 6-0 and put this one out of reach with the way Yovani Gallardo was pitching.

Gallardo (1-2) gave up just four hits over 6 1/3 innings as the Mariners prevented the A’s from completing their first home sweep of a four-game series since July 3-6, 2014, when they took four from Toronto.

Seattle turned it into a rout as Nelson Cruz belted a three-run homer in the seventh off Raul Alcantara, who was left in to eat up innings and surrendered two***more runs in the ninth.

Triggs (3-1), in a season-opening rotation for the first time in his major league career, opened the year by throwing 17 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run. That was the longest such season-opening streak by a starting pitcher in Oakland history. His ERA went from 0.00 to 2.42 with Sunday’s outing.

The A’s (10-9) finished 5-4 on their nine-game homestand that was shortened by one game due to a rainout Easter Sunday.

Starting pitching report

The first batter of the game was a bad omen for Triggs as he hit Jarrod Dyson to put the speedster on base. Dyson stole second and Cano knocked a run-scoring single to right field that quickly brought Triggs’ earned-run streak to an end. The right-hander was charged with six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. He gave up five hits with four strikeouts and the two walks.

Bullpen report

Daniel Coulombe entered in relief of Triggs in the fifth and provided 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Then Alcantara, who was replaced in the rotation by Jesse Hahn on the last road trip, was left in to soak up three innings to save the bullpen any more wear and tear in a lopsided game. He gave up five runs in three innings and walked two.

At the plate

The A’s, after falling behind early, couldn’t muster anything against Gallardo, who the Mariners acquired in an offseason trade from the Orioles. Their only run came in the seventh, when Ryon Healy led off with a double, moved to third on Trevor Plouffe’s single and scored on Matt Joyce’s sacrifice fly off reliever Tony Zych.

In the field

Neither team committed an error, making it five games in a row that the A’s have gone errorless. Gallardo was aided by an outstanding diving snag by third baseman Mike Freeman in the sixth. Matt Olson, drawing a start in right field for the A’s, made a sliding catch that turned into a double play when Daniel Vogelbach wandered too far off first base.


The homestand finale drew 24,165 fans.

Up next

The A’s take Monday off and then begin a nine-game road trip against the Angels on Tuesday. The opener pits Jesse Hahn (1-1, 3.00) against J.C. Ramirez (2-2, 6.46). On Wednesday, it’s Sean Manaea (1-1, 4.43) against Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.98). Then Jharel Cotton (2-2, 4.76) matches up against Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.76) in Thursday’s finale. All three games begin at 7:05 p.m. and air on NBC Sports California.