Bad breaks or breakdowns? Both put Giants in 2-0 hole


Bad breaks or breakdowns? Both put Giants in 2-0 hole


SAN FRANCISCO Marco Scutaro slowly packed for a flightwith no guaranteed return, still wearing a jersey streaked orange-brown withdisappointment and misfortune.

Sometimes, infield dirt is more than infield dirt.

Inches, said Scutaro, asked how close he came to getting aglove on Ryan Hanigans ground ball, which bled through for a two-run singleSunday night.

All the ground balls hit to me it seemed like I was thisclose to catching it.

The same was not true for Scutaro, or the rest of his Giantsteammates, when they stood in the batters box during this NL Division Seriesagainst the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are getting the luck and the breaks, forsure.

But dirt stains come out easily enough. The Giants, to comecorrect, were nearer to buried alive Sunday night. The Reds outhit them 13-2and outscored them 9-0 to stun a hand-sitting sellout crowd and grab a 2-0 leadin this series.

Scutaro entered the postseason with a 20-game hitting streak inwhich he was hitting .436.

Hes 0 for 8 in two playoff games. He and leadoff man AngelPagan are 1 for 17.

Thats the way baseball is, man, Scutaro said. I goteight at-bats and I have at least three or four hard-hit balls. When things arenot going your way, mentally youve just got to turn the page and staypositive.

Bad luck is a comfortable and convenient fallback. It beatstrying to explain these two games any other way.

Seems like the whole series, everything is bouncing theirway, Scutaro said. They get the momentum going and it seems like we cant geta break. They make a nice play or its at somebody.

Its a short series. It can change real quick. We just haveto come back Tuesday and keep fighting.

RATTO: It's do or be done for Giants

They will try to succeed where 21 other NL clubs havefailed, rallying back to win an NL Division Series after losing the first twogames. And for all their road savvy while winning 10 of 12 series away fromAT&T Park after the All-Star break, sweeping three in the Queen City issomething no major league team has done to the Reds this season.

We know where were at right now and out backs are to thewall, said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will wait to address the team untilthey reconvene at the ballpark for a 10 a.m. flight Monday. I know they knowwhats at stake, and theyve done a great job all year at bouncing back. Itsbeen done before and theres no choice in this. We have to keep our heads upand be ready to go.

As Bochy and third base coach Tim Flannery know well, the1984 San Diego Padres are one team that came back from a 2-0 deficit to win abest-of-5 series. But they went back home to Jack Murphy Stadium to take threestraight from the Chicago Cubs and clinch the NL pennant.

Time and place and historical precedent aside, and luck,too, the Giants knew from the outset that they wouldnt get anywhere withoutthe kind of dominant, hold-the-line pitching that they received in 2010.

That pitching was nowhere to be found down the stretch, andthere is no plugging those leaks now. Neither Matt Cain nor Madison Bumgarnercould retire a hitter in the sixth inning.

Well, of course you want your pitcher to go out there andgive you a quality start, Bochy said. It hasnt happened these first twogames. Now you hope it happens the next three. Its hard to beat this team ifyou dont get a quality start.

Its tough when those guys arent quite on top of theirgame.

It means the Giants are rallying from behind -- not scoring first, which they did so often while surging to an NL West title. When you trail in 15 of 18 innings, and lead in none, you aren't able to swing or run the bases with the same press-the-issue aggressiveness.

Bumgarner, like Cain a night earlier, had an encouragingfirst inning but left too many mistakes over the plate after that. Catcher Buster Poseyeven said he thought Bumgarner got away with a few mistake sliders.

You hate to see it, Bochy said. Its a good hitting ballclub and they threw out some good at-bats against him.

Bumgarner took the Scutaro approach.

They found holes, he said. I felt good. I was throwingthe pitches I wanted to throw. Just bad luck, I guess.

They guess. If the Giants entertained any other explanation,how could they convince themselves they're good enough to save this season?

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'


Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."