Giants

Ballparks a factor for Giants' rotation in NLDS

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Ballparks a factor for Giants' rotation in NLDS

The As situation is so day-to-day-to-hour that analyzing their chances almost seems a pointless exercise. Tell us how they get through the fourth inning today, and well have a different answer for you thats how uncertain it is.But well give it a try. They need not to get their hats blocked on this road trip, or theyre in deep and abiding puppy leavings.For the Giants, on the other hand, the choices are down to a precious couple: Washington, or Cincinnati. And frankly, they should prefer Washington.
This, despite the fact that the Nationals have beaten them five of six times (as opposed to the Reds far more pedestrian four of six). And this, despite the fact that Washington has slightly better pitching and hitting than Cincinnati.No, we suspect that the real difference between the two teams is in the geography of the ballparks. Nationals Park is a slightly better than average hitters park this year, while The Great American Ball Park is the bandboxiest bandbox in the history of modern American bandboxes.It is in keeping with the proud tradition of Cincinnati ballparks. Crosley Field was a tiny little slip of a thing, and when it was replaced by Riverfront Stadium, one of those immense circular carbuncles, it still played as a hitters park.But the new Cincy digs are exceedingly friendly to fly-ball hitters, and cruel to fly-ball pitchers.Now guess what the Giants have in abundance.Of the 49 National League starting pitchers by innings, no Giant gives up more ground ball outs than fly ball outs; the closest to neutral is Madison Bumgarner, at a pretty damned neutralesque 0.99 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio.It drops significantly after that. Tim Lincecum ranks 23rd at 0.92, the slumping Ryan Vogelsong 34th at 0.82, Barry Zito 40th at 0.77, and Matt Cain is 47th at 0.66.In other words, if all the games of the first-round series were in Cincinnati, the Giants might well be screwed.But they arent, and Cain will almost certainly pitch in the opener at home whether it is against Washington or Cincinnati, which means he wont be affected by the cruelties of the dimensions, the hitting background, or the Ohio Rivers meteorological quirks until a fifth game. He pitches in the San Francisco International Airport, so hell be fine, at least to start.But now comes the harder part for Bruce Bochy whether to pitch Zito second so he can avoid Cincinnati entirely, and leave the heavier lifting to Lincecum and Bumgarner, who are better than average on the GBFB ratio board, or to go in order of second-half effectiveness, pitching Lincecum second and let Bumgarner go third and Zito for a potentially decisive fourth game in the miniaturized ballpark.These all end up being decisions based on logic and matchups and rational thought, which leaves out most of us, but if the ballpark preys heavily on Bruce Bochys mind, Zito should spend his time in Cincinnati as a loyal cheerleader, available only if a game goes, say, 20 innings or so.Which is why Washington may turn out to be the more clement match. The Nationals and Reds have almost equivalent numbers, and there is no way of effectively quantifying the icing of Stephen Strasburg on the rest of the rotation, let alone the team. The sample size is simply too small to draw conclusions.So maybe your rooting interest hinges on something as simply as fly balls in the Ohio sky. Maybe youll have to defer that dream series with Dusty Baker and the ghosts of Ought-Two for an extra series. Either that, or you are so confident in your teams pitching that you think location doesnt matter.Well, in that case, youre probably wrong. Location is everything, and in so many ways.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Tough luck: Rich Hill throws nine no-hit innings, loses on walk-off HR in 10th

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AP

Tough luck: Rich Hill throws nine no-hit innings, loses on walk-off HR in 10th

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- Dodgers lefty Rich Hill lost his perfect game on an error in the ninth inning, then lost his no-hitter on a leadoff home run in the 10th by Josh Harrison that sent the Pittsburgh Pirates over Los Angeles 1-0 Wednesday night.

Hill became the first pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1995 to take a no-hit try into extra innings.

The Pirates didn't have a runner until Jordy Mercer led off the ninth with a sharp grounder that smacked off third baseman Logan Forsythe's glove for an error. Hill retired the next three batters.

Hill (9-5) came back out for the 10th and Harrison sent his 99th pitch of the night into the first row of seats in left field, just out of the reach of Los Angeles leftfielder Curtis Granderson. Hill struck out 10 without a walk.

Juan Nicasio (2-5) picked up the win after working the top of the 10th.

After Mercer reached in the ninth, Hill quickly retired the next three batters. Chris Stewart laid down a sacrifice bunt, Jose Osuna grounded out to Forsythe and when shortstop Corey Seager gobbled up a grounder by Starling Marte, Hill held the Pirates hitless for nine innings.

But to get official credit for a no-hitter under Major League Baseball rules, a pitcher must complete the game - going nine innings isn't enough if it goes into extras. Back in 1959, a Pirates pitcher had perhaps the most famous near-miss of all when Harvey Haddix lost his perfect game and the game itself in the 13th at Milwaukee.

In what's been a charmed season for the Dodgers, a 37-year-old journeyman received an ovation from the Pirates crowd at PNC Park as he walked off the mound after the ninth. A large mass of fans clad in Dodger blue sitting behind the Los Angeles dugout rose to its feet after taking in the latest remarkable night in a season full of them for the team chasing the best regular season record in major-league history.

Rather than go to the best bullpen in the majors, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts sent Hill back out to see if he could keep the no-hitter going.

The appearance of his No. 44 jersey sent a jolt through the crowd of 19,859. It also proved to be one inning too many.

One batter, in fact. Hill could only watch the ball sail over the fence and, without expression, walked to the dugout.

"We knew we had a chance to win with one hit," Harrison said later.

Harrison broke up a no-hit bid by Detroit's Justin Verlander with two outs in the ninth in 2012. That game ended in a Pittsburgh loss. This one ended with Harrison sprinting toward a mob of teammates at home plate while Hill left as the losing pitcher following the best game of his career.

Hill raced through eight innings thanks in part to impeccable control and some spectacular defense behind him, most notably a diving grab by second baseman Chase Utley on a liner by Josh Bell leading off the eighth.

Bell was ruled safe on a close play at first in the second inning, but the call was overturned when replay showed Hill tagged him just before his foot hit the bag. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez also made a sliding grab on a bunt attempt by Harrison in the fourth but otherwise, Hill was in firm command.

Hill had come close to perfection in the past. Last Sept. 10, he retired all 21 batters at Miami before Roberts pulled him after seven innings and 89 pitches because of a recurrence of blisters on his pitching hand. He also was dealing with a groin injury.

In December, Hill re-signed as a free agent with the Dodgers, getting a three-year deal worth $48 million. The contract was quite a reward for a former journeyman who, as recently as 2015, was pitching for the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League.

Hill began this night with a 47-32 record in a career that began in 2005 and took him from the Chicago Cubs to Baltimore, then to Boston, Cleveland, the Angels, the Yankees, Oakland and the Dodgers. Hill has overcome serious injuries during his career, including a torn labrum in 2009 and elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2011.

Trevor Williams matched Hill out for out, if not pitch for pitch. The Pirates rookie kept Los Angeles off the board for eight innings, letting Hill to line out in the fourth to leave the bases loaded in the fourth, using a pair of double plays in the fifth and sixth and getting Forsythe to line out after a nine-pitch at bat with two on and two outs in the eighth.

The Pirates have been no-hit nine teams in team history. For nine innings it looked like they were on their way to a 10th. One swing from Harrison changed all that.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (lower back strain) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday. Roberts said the team considered having Kershaw return directly to the majors on Saturday but decided to exercise caution with such a large lead in the division. ... RHP Yu Darvish (lower back tightness) will be activated off the disabled list on Sunday and start against Milwaukee.

Pirates: Trainer Todd Tomczyk is "optimistic" RF Gregory Polanco will return from a strained left hamstring before the end of the season. Polanco is currently on the 10-day disabled list for a third time this season because of hamstring trouble. ... C Francisco Cervelli (left wrist inflammation) is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday and could return to the lineup.

UP NEXT:
Dodgers: Hyun-Jin Riu (4-6, 3.45 ERA) is undefeated in his last eight starts, going 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA since June 17.

Pirates: Chad Kuhl (6-8, 4.52) will try to bounce back from his worst start of the season on Thursday. Kuhl gave up eight runs in three-plus innings last week against St. Louis.

Two events in Wednesday's win show change in Jarrett Parker's luck

Two events in Wednesday's win show change in Jarrett Parker's luck

SAN FRANCISCO -- There have been more than 6,500 doubles hit in the big leagues this season. Only 55 have had an exit velocity of less than 62 mph. Only five of those 55 came with the go-ahead run on base.

So, it was a somewhat rare event when Jarrett Parker checked his swing, accidentally made contact, and drove in the go-ahead run with a two-run double. On a related note, Parker didn't care.

He's not one for luck or karma. He's also not a big student of exit velocity. Asked if he wanted to know how hard his double was hit, Parker shook his head.

"Nope," he said. "Don't care."

The rest of the team didn't, either. The Giants figure they're owed a few more in this down year, and nobody cared how the winning run came across in a 4-2 victory over the Brewers.

"You hear good things happen when you put the ball in play, and he did," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's a break for us and we'll take it. It went our way there with that check-swing, which you'll take. We've had some tough breaks."

For a moment after the series clinching win, Parker thought he had suffered another bad one. He felt something grab in his right arm as he went up for the celebratory jump with the rest of the outfield, and he said he was thinking about it as he jogged off the field. Parker missed 96 games earlier this year after fracturing his clavicle. That delayed what appears to be a bit of a breakout. Parker said his arm felt fine once he got back to the clubhouse. 

"I was worried about it at first but I shook it off," he said. "It was just a cramp."

That was a relief for Parker, and it kept the good vibes going. After the way Parker's season started, he certainly is owed a bit more in that department.