Giants follow big win with small win for 2-0 lead

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Giants follow big win with small win for 2-0 lead

SAN FRANCISCO -- Game One of the 2012 World Series was played big, almost comedically so. Three homers from Pablo Sandoval on pitches most players would disdain as being beneath their scientific approach screams bigger than bigger than life.So of course Game Two was very very small, almost to the point of being subatomic. Yes, the result was the same Giants win, 2-0, this time to take a lead of two-games-to-just-watching for the Detroit Tigers but the details that separated victory from defeat were subtle to the point of undetectable.INSTANT REPLAY: Giants ride Bumgarner to 2-0 series lead
Madison Bumgarner, the starting pitcher who gave Giant fans the yips, stifled the Tigers on two hits over seven innings. The only threat the Tigers did mount ended because the Tigers, already sensing that scoring would be difficult, tried to get Prince Fielder to score from first on Delmon Youngs second-inning double. He didnt, because Gregor Blanco, Marco Scutaro and Buster Posey made two throws faster than Fielder could cover the last 90 feet.But the Giants, who nearly formed a Baseball Bugs conga line Wednesday night, had to get their runs in the tiniest way possible -- with a single, walk, line-hugging bunt and a double play grounder in the seventh, and then three walks and a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

RELATED: San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series page
And both wins still look the same if you squint your eyes hard enough. At least that would be Brandon Crawfords position.The Giants shortstop handled more questions about his role in the BlancoScutaroPosey relay (Blanco threw the ball over Crawfords head to Scutaro, essentially) then about his double play grounder that scored Hunter Pence with the winning run. But since it was his best double play grounder ever, he talked happily about it, from the Blanco bunt that rolled just inside the third base line (Oh, I thought it was a great bunt, he laughed) to his own work.Frankly, I didnt really know what to expect, he said. I mean, I think Id seen him (Tiger pitcher Doug Fister) a couple of times in Double-A, but that was it. I wasnt trying to let a lot of things go through my head. I just tried to approach it as a two-strike at-bat.In other words, he walked to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out in the second game of the World Series with the score 0-0 and thought of . . . well, nothing.Okay, next to nothing.I sort of thought if I put the ball in play on the ground, theyd probably go for two rather than come home, he said. I mean, I looked up, and they were playing back, so I sort of knew what they wanted to do.And to the Tigers delight AND despair, he delivered that.We played double play depth because we felt that we couldnt give them two runs, Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. To be honest with you, we were absolutely thrilled to come out of that inning with just the one run, absolutely thrilled. I mean, we had to score anyway. You give them two, it makes it tougher, obviously, but we felt like we didnt want them to open it up. We got the double play ball and we got out of it, and it actually worked really good for us.Well, except for the double play producing the only run the Giants would actually need. San Francisco scored again in the eighth, denying the locals the satisfaction of knowing that the last double play that produced the only run of a World Series Game was Game 7 in 1962.Yes. The Bobby Richardson game. The one where the Yankees beat the Giants when Willie McCoveys two-out line drive with Matty Alou at third and Willie Mays at second went right at Richardson, killing San Franciscos chances of winning their first Series 48 years before they actually did.So Brandon Crawford was denied a chance to bookend San Francisco baseball history because of Pences bases-loaded sacrifice fly off Phil Coke in the eighth. He was also denied a chance to be in on the relay that may have crushed Detroits spirits.But he delivered the tiny little run that created the tiny little win that will disappear next to the comic-book win the night before. The win that counts just the same as the one before it. The one that sends the Giants to Detroit with a choke hold on a series that skewed heavily Tiger before it began.And yes, in the World Series, wins come in one size. The one that fits all.

Giants call up infield/outfield prospect Ryder Jones, DFA Aaron Hill

Giants call up infield/outfield prospect Ryder Jones, DFA Aaron Hill

SAN FRANCISCO — The rebuild/reload kicked up a notch Saturday morning when the Giants called up one of their more intriguing prospects. 

Power-hitting 23-year-old Ryder Jones was added from Triple-A Sacramento, taking the roster spot of Aaron Hill, who was designated for assignment. Jones will primarily play third base, but he can also handle first base and the outfield. He is a prospect Bruce Bochy has always liked because of his power potential and he has broken through this season, his first in Triple-A. 

Jones was batting .299 with 10 homers and 16 doubles in 53 games for the River Cats. The knock on him has always been a lack of patience at the plate, but he has upped his on-base percentage to .390, a jump of 99 points from his 2016 season in Double-A. In June, Jones had put together a .343/.450/.701 slash line. 

Jones was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft, one round after Christian Arroyo. He is one of the organization’s more physical prospects, standing 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, with an emerging power stroke and the athleticism to handle the outfield. 

For a while this season, it looked like left field would be Jones’ best shot at a spot. But Austin Slater is locked in there and the Giants have an opening at third, with Hill now gone, Eduardo Nuñez on the disabled list, and Conor Gillaspie struggling. Jones should get at least a week or two there to show what he can do, and his new manager is among those looking forward to it. 

“His confidence has really grown,” Bochy said of Jones last week. “He’s a power threat. He’s a guy I’m watching. He’s a guy we don’t have here, who has a lot of power.”

Down on the Farm: Is there a two-way star in MLB's future?

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AP

Down on the Farm: Is there a two-way star in MLB's future?

This game is supposed to be hard. Somehow in the 2017 MLB Draft, two of the top prospects have so much talent they put teams in a tough spot. 

High School phenom Hunter Greene and University of Louisville star Brendan McKay were both options to go No. 1 overall to the Minnesota Twins. The only question with them was, where would they play? No, this isn't because the two are DH-type players who can't stay on the field. Instead, the two are marvels at the plate and on the mound, making the idea of a possible two-way MLB star, start to seem real. 

“I think it’s really just that hard," says Sacramento River Cats pitcher Michael Roth. "I don’t really know if that’s possible." 

If it was up to Roth, he would have made MLB scouts fret over what to label him as well. Roth, who wound up as a College World Series legend on the mound for South Carolina, came to the school with intentions of a career at first base. 

The most games Roth appeared in as a hitter in college were 17 as a senior. He batted .211 that season and the lefty wound up going to the Angels in the ninth round of the draft after completing one of the greatest college careers ever as a pitcher.

As strictly a pitcher, and serving as both a starter and reliever, Roth knows the rigors he must put in before a game. This is hours of work, all prior to a three-hour game. 

"From a pitcher’s perspective, I know how much work goes into honing our craft and you’re never perfect," said Roth. "I mean, you’re always working on it and there’s still something each day that you don’t think you did well enough."

With his past of a former two-way player himself in college who focused more on offense when first arriving on campus, Roth says the same when it comes to position players. 

"I mean they have to put time into honing their craft whether it be on the field fielding ground balls or taking fly balls in the outfield and then taking swings. And it’s a lot of work,” Roth continues. 

For Greene and McKay, the numbers speak for themselves. Maybe they really are the ones.

Greene, a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher and shortstop, hit .324 with six home runs in 30 games as a senior at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif. On the mound, with a fastball that can touch 102 miles per hour, Greene allowed a total of three earned runs in 28 innings pitched with 43 strikeouts.

Maybe he is the one.

College baseball's Colossus of Clout put up numbers among the best bats and arms in the country for the Cardinals. McKay led Louisville to the College World Series where his amateur career ended in a 4-3 loss to TCU, going out with a bang as he bashed his 18th home run of the year, 20 rows deep into the right-field bleachers. He finished his junior year at the plate hitting .341 with 18 home runs. His pitching stats weren’t far behind, going 11-3 as he posted a 2.56 ERA and struck out 146 in 109 innings pitched. 

McKay is the only person to win the John Olerud Award, given to the top two-way college baseball player in the country, more than once. He won it three straight years, every single season of his college career. 

Maybe he is the one. 

These are two supreme athletes at 17 years old (Greene) and 21 (McKay). They have not peaked and theoretically can only improve their bodies in the next few years. That’s not the problem.  

“As a pitcher, we’re constantly doing things for our body and same thing for position players,” Roth said. “That’s the biggest thing, recovery. 

“I remember days where I would actually pitch and hit sometimes. I would start on a Friday and then every once in a while on Sunday I would get the DH spot in college and at DH sometimes I could feel on the follow through of my swing, I was tight in my shoulder. Things like that can inhibit your swing.” 

On draft night, Greene went No. 2 overall to the Reds while McKay was selected No. 4 overall by the Rays. Officially, Greene was announced as a right-handed pitcher and McKay a first baseman. Maybe their way to the majors is a one-way street. But maybe in the case of Greene or McKay, there's a two-lane road.

Roth is running down the path of a realist. Don’t mistake him for a pessimist. Like any other baseball fan or player that grew up throwing as hard as they could and trying to hit balls to sights unseen, he wants to see a two-way star in the bigs. 

“I just don’t know how it would really work. Obviously, they’d have to be a specimen too,” Roth said before he smiles with a short laugh and says, “I think that would be really cool if someone could do it because that means they’re a freak. That would be cool, but tough.”

All it takes is one.