Urban: Only direction is up for Giants


Urban: Only direction is up for Giants

August 17, 2011


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Mychael Urban

You had the better part of Monday and all day Tuesday -- make that Black Tuesday. You absorbed the crushing loss Monday and the impending feeling of disabled-list doom, a reality realized first thing Tuesday. And as Tuesday's shadows grew longer and darker, you saw another and another and another of your guys go down.Then, as if the baseball gods -- or, as our own Mr. Ray (of Sunshine) Ratto suggested, the devil himself -- were, um, hell-bent on letting you know you'd hit rock stinking bottom, you got clapped in the ear with a metal rake in the form of another walk-off loss, in extra innings no less.

RELATED: Ratto -- If Giants struck Faustian deal, bill clearly due
The despair with which you've dealt, Giants fans, has been justified beyond a doubt.But your time for wallowing in the self-pity that comes with overexposure to doom, gloom and talk of the trainer's room comes to an end as of Wednesday's first pitch in Atlanta.
RELATED: Preview -- Hurting Giants now have to face Braves' Jurrjens
There is but one direction to go from rock bottom, and now is the time to starting thinking in that direction.Why? Several reasons. The first being that what you've been feeling for the past 48 hours is unhealthy. Obsess on the negative for too long and you cease to be a fan. You become Robert De Niro in "The Fan."Reason two is the National League West standings. Your boys are 3 12 games out of first place with considerably more than a month of baseball to play. That's chump change, and please don't use that phrase as a springboard to the obvious joke sitting there on a tee for you about the current state of San Francisco's offense. That's unhealthy, too.RELATED: Ratto -- Giants down, but not out
Reason three: the remaining schedule. After wrapping up in Atlanta, the Giants face exactly one team left in that month-plus with a winning record, and that team is the team they're chasing, the out-of-their-tree-right-now Diamondbacks.
Granted, your guys haven't exactly been bounding joyously atop the allegedly soft spots of the schedule of late, but remember, that was while they were headed for Black Tuesday and rock bottom. For reason four, we return to those Diamondbacks. You don't really think they're going to keep playing this well, do you? Come on. Their next five games alone are against Philly and Atlanta, and you only get one beat-Roy-Halladay-with-an-epic-ninth-inning-rally a year. They will come back to earth as sure as the Giants will start climbing from the earth's core.Or did you not notice that they have exactly two starting pitchers who'd be in the Giants' rotation, and maybe three relievers who'd have get a sniff out of the Giants' bullpen?Sure, Arizona's offense looks like a juggernaut comparatively, but it is one Justin Upton slump from looking meek, and Upton has been smoking-hot for a good three months now. It's not easy to keep up that pace, particularly when engaged in a pennant race with an entire team on your 23-year-old shoulders.So now let's wrap up this admittedly and purposely glass-half-full exercise with reason No. 5: drama.The Giants have shown time and again that they absolutely thrive on it. They create ungodly messes for themselves and delight in the cleaning up. Well, this is about as messy as it's going to get, and while it sure would be nice to have Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez and Carlos Beltran and Sergio Romo and a No. 5 starter worth his ankle tape, there remain some pretty capable janitors at the ready with mops and buckets.Nate Schierholtz will not be out long. The law of averages tell you there has to be at least one really good month of baseball inside Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross and Miguel Tejada. Brandon Belt, as long as they stick with him, will chip in. Pablo Sandoval is dying for his close-up. Oh, and those guys on the mound will help some, too.It's always darkest before dawn, we're told. Well, in this case the opposite could prove true. It was dark as dark gets at dawn -- heck, at noon -- on Wednesday, and that means it can't get any darker.

Giants Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo


Giants Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo

SAN FRANCISCO — About 45 minutes after the Giants announced that Chris Marrero had been designated for assignment, the left fielder walked up to the locker of one of the newcomers. Marrero patted Christian Arroyo on the back and shook his hand, congratulating him for his first call-up to the big leagues. 

“That’s my boy,” he said later. “I was really happy for him.”

The Arroyo promotion and the addition of Drew Stubbs signaled the end of Marrero’s April run in the lineup. He was cut and Aaron Hill was put on the disabled list, clearing two roster spots. Just as Arroyo forced his way up with three huge weeks in Triple-A, Marrero forced his way onto the opening day roster with a monster spring that included eight homers. He had just five hits in 38 at-bats before Monday’s moves.

“The team is struggling and we’ve got to make some moves,” Marrero said. “I believe in myself and I’ll go down and get back to how I felt in spring training. This is what I’ve worked for my whole life. I lost the feel that I had in the spring. Things were a little rushed. I came in and worked hard every day to try and find it. I’m going to keep working. I haven’t lost confidence in myself.”

Marrero was put in a bit of a tough spot. He played just about every day in Scottsdale because he was trying to win a job, and when he finally did make it, some Giants coaches felt he was a bit worn down. The team’s brutal start to the season put a glaring spotlight on left field, and this move became obvious over time.

Marrero said he likes it here, and that if he isn’t claimed, he will go to Triple-A Sacramento and try to find that spring swing and get back up here. Count Bruce Bochy among those hoping it goes down that way. 

“We thought a lot of him and still do,” Bochy said. “He’s a good hitter.”

--- Arroyo had a 4.4 GPA in high school, so the Giants knew he was smart. He’s savvy, too. There’s nothing like picking up the longest-tenured player on the team, literally. After snagging a ricochet in the fourth inning last night, Arroyo kept running and lifted Cain off the grass. They then chest-bumped. 

“That just kind of happened,” Arroyo said. “He hit it, I looked at Cain going down and saw the ball, went running and got it, instincts took over. I made a throw and got the guy. It was a fun play. In that moment, I was just pumped up. It’s one of those plays you get excited over.”

Arroyo said he heard Cain yelling and he thought he was hurt, so that’s why he ran over. Cain did have an X-ray on the foot that got hit but it came back negative. 

“Christian did a great job handling himself,” Cain said. “He picked me up big-time.”

The best part of the play came hours after it was made. As Cain talked to reporters, Brandon Crawford — who was in position to scoop the grounder in the fourth — was standing at his locker, a few feet away.

“Let it go through next time,” he said softly.

--- Denard Span was out on the field Monday afternoon, but he’ll miss another two to four days with that right shoulder injury. This will truly be a day-to-day situation. If at any point the Giants feel they need coverage, Span can be put on the 10-day DL. 

--- Hill apparently felt discomfort after playing long toss on the road trip. He can swing a bat but he was going to be kept from throwing for three to four days, so he was put on the DL.

--- This spring, Posey was asked about facing Sergio Romo. Here was his long tendencies-filled answer. Posey faced Romo in the eighth and flied out. 

"It was a little weird, I'm not going to lie," he said. "I caught him for so long. It's definitely interesting being in the batter's box instead of being the plate."

Was there a nod or "hey what's up" look between the two?

"I've caught him long enough to know you don't look at him," Posey said, smiling. 

--- If you missed it, the standing ovation for Romo was a very, very cool moment. Also, here's my story on Madison Bumgarner, who spoke for the first time since his injury. And here's the first story on Arroyo, with a fun anecdote about his mom. She'll be in the stands Tuesday. And finally, my game story from last night. 

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

PORTLAND -- Four games, four quarters to each and the Warriors are on to the next round of the postseason.

Here are four things we learned about these Warriors in the wake of their four-game sweep of the Trail Blazers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

IT’S A TEAM THING: The Warriors lost All-Star forward Kevin Durant in Game 1, came back and won Game 2. They lost head coach Steve Kerr before Game 3, went out and fashioned one of the biggest comebacks in franchise postseason history. They are constructed in such a way that the collective is strong enough to overcome the loss of one man. They won this series in a walk despite being shorthanded for the last three games and without their head coach for the last two. This team and this staff are bigger than any individual.

JAVALE McGEE MATTERS: By last Sept. 16 the summer was all but gone and every coveted player NBA player had been accounted for. That’s when the Warriors signed McGee with the hope that he could provide some length and athleticism on the block, if only for a few minutes a night -- and, surely, some nights not at all. McGee was the last man to make the team, and here he was dominating a Trail Blazers team that, to be fair, lacked a healthy center. He was special in this series, and what he provides will be needed as the Warriors move forward.

DRAYMOND’S VALUE IS BEYOND MEASURE: There were so many examples during the regular season that illustrated Draymond Green’s significance to the Warriors. He topped them all in this series. He defended, at some point, every member of the Portland team. He rebounded. He made 3-pointers. He blocked 17 shots. The Blazers tried him early but quickly become discouraged at attacking whenever he was on the court. He disrupted their offense in more ways than they could have imagined. As a bonus, he avoided notable run-ins with officials.

SPLASHING NOT NEEDED: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were fabulous in the second half of Game 3 and Curry stood out in Game 4. But by the time the Splash Brothers found their offensive groove, the Warriors were up 2-0 in the series and rallying behind their defense en route to taking Game 3. The battle of the backcourts, logically deemed a critical factor in this series, was a virtual statistical standoff. Curry/Thompson combined for 192 points, while Damian Lillard 111 and CJ McCollum totaled 201. If it’s the numbers are that close, the Warriors will win every series, and probably sweep.