Baggs' Instant Replay: D'backs 8, Giants 6 (11 inn.)


Baggs' Instant Replay: D'backs 8, Giants 6 (11 inn.)


SAN FRANCISCO Youll hear Giants manager Bruce Bochy say it: These are must-win games the rest of the way.

Heres how you know he means it: The Giants used 11 pitchers for the first time in at least 94 years.

But for all their fight in erasing a four-run deficit, and for all of Bochys strategizing, the Giants werent able to pull out another late-inning victory. The Arizona Diamondbacks got to George Kontos and Javier Lopez in the 11th inning, Jason Kubel hit a triple over the head of right fielder Hunter Pence and the Giants couldnt get the late magic they needed in an 8-6 loss at AT&T Park Tuesday night.

Their archrivals lacked that magic, too. The Dodgers lost in extras to the San Diego Padres, at least ensuring the Giants wouldnt lose anything off their four and a half game lead in the NL West.

Pence didnt look graceful as Kubels triple fell a few inches from his glove as Aaron Hill scored. Miguel Montero followed with an RBI single to beat the Giants on a night they busted their San Francisco-era franchise record of nine pitchers used in a game.

Until then, the story was all about the San Francisco Rallybacks. Brandon Belt splashed a two-run home run and Pablo Sandoval had clutch at-bats to lead them back from a four-run deficit, and the bullpen made a couple of huge escapes after being pressed into early service.

But the seagulls got Hitchcockian as the game continued late into the night. The Giants got their first two hitters aboard in the 11th, but Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro flied out and Sandoval grounded out to end it.

Starting pitching report
Ryan Vogelsong is a major concern, officially. Despite throwing consistently in the 92-93 mph range, the right-hander was hit hard for a fifth consecutive start while giving up six runs in 3 13 innings.

Vogelsong had multiple baserunners in every inning, and while he minimized the damage in the first two frames, the Diamondbacks punished his pitches in the third and sent him to an early exit in the fourth.

So heres the deal: Vogelsong had a 2.27 ERA in his first 21 starts and held opponents to a .215 average.

He has a 10.13 ERA over his last five starts and opponents are hitting .385 against him.

Perhaps a regression was in order for Vogelsong, who posted a .250 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) over those first 21 starts. Thats over 40 points below the league average not the most sustainable rate. And boy, has that script ever flipped. Over his last five starts, opponents are hitting a whopping .542 on balls in play.

Vogelsong gave up nine hits and walked two (one intentional) while retiring just 10 of 20 batters faced.

He simply is not hitting spots as he did before or getting late movement on his fastball. He threw an 0-2 heater as straight as a string to Paul Goldschmidt for a tiebreaking, RBI double over Pences head in the third inning. An intentional walk loaded the bases and Vogelsong hit his mark on an inside fastball to break Ryan Wheelers bat on a pop fly, but John McDonald grounded a seeing-eye, two-run single through the right side to give Arizona a 4-1 lead.

First baseman Brandon Belt cut off the throw home and the Giants managed to get an out on the basepaths to escape the inning, but trouble began anew for Vogelsong in the fourth. Adam Eaton doubled for his first major league hit and Aaron Hill, who isnt missing many mistakes these days, crushed a hanging, first-pitch curveball for a two-run home run.

At least Vogelsong will get an extra day of rest before his next scheduled start Monday at Coors Field.

Bullpen report
The Giants could call up 30 relievers and Bochy would find a way to use them. Dan Otero and Shane Loux made their contributions by tossing 2 23 scoreless innings between them, and Jose Mijares benefited from some sensational defense while completing the seventh.

Things got dicey after the Giants tied it in the seventh, though. Jean Machi issued a leadoff walk, and with one out, Jeremy Affeldt made a mess of Eatons infield single. The left-handers desperation toss to first base wasnt even close, skipping into Arizonas dugout to put runners at second and third with one out.

Enter Santiago Casilla. (Why, is that a reference to Enter the Dragon on Bruce Lee Night? Of course it is.)

Casilla got a pop-up from Justin Upton to first baseman Brandon Belt and then another from Kubel, who owns 27 home runs this season. The second pop was in foul ground, and although Posey had trouble seeing it, Belt raced to the rescue to secure the ball and preserve the tie.

Sergio Romo needed just 17 pitches to dispatch the six hitters he faced, but Kontos gave up a leadoff single to Aaron Hill -- his career-best fifth hit of the night -- and Lopez's scoreless streak ended after 23 appearances.

At the plate
The Giants showed once again that they do not fear coming from behind.

In the early innings, only Marco Scutaro seemed to be getting good swings against Arizonas Ian Kennedy. He tripled in the first inning and scored on Pablo Sandovals ground out, then Scutaro doubled in a run in the third. But Hunter Pence lined out to strand the bases loaded, and Kennedy struck out the next four hitters to carry a 6-2 lead into the sixth.

Thats when it started to get loud. Sandoval and Pence hit ringing doubles and Brandon Belt lofted a two-run home run that splashed into McCovey Cove.

It was Belts fifth homer of the year but his first in 238 at-bats against right-handed pitching.

Brandon Crawford just missed tying the game when he hit a two-out double that struck the bricks just a foot or two short of the metal roof atop the arcade. The Giants stranded him, but they werent done hitting.

Angel Pagan doubled to start the seventh, and after a Scutaro sacrifice moved him to third, Pablo Sandoval executed with a brilliant bit of two-strike hitting. He took an outside pitch and lined it crisply to left field for a tying single, pumping his fist all the way up the line.

Sandoval went for the game winner with a 3-0 count and two outs in the ninth, taking a huge cut and sending a drive to the deepest part of right-center field. It wouldve been a walk-off shot in at least 27 big league ballparks, but Justin Upton ensured Sandoval wouldnt even get a double. The right fielder made a running catch before smacking against the wall.

In field
Its not everyday you can write a 9-6 forceout in your scorebook. Hunter Pence alertly threw to second base after Arizonas Jason Kubel got a bad read on Miguel Monteros line single past second baseman Marco Scutaro in the seventh inning. Shortstop Brandon Crawford was alert, too, to cover second base and treat Kubel to a long, embarrassing trot back to the dugout.

Crawford stayed alert while creating one of the most remarkable double plays of the season. He fielded Wheelers high chopper, did a 360-degree spin while tagging out Montero (who shouldve stopped running) and threw to first base in plenty of time as the crowd roared.

Sandoval earned the next ovation in the eighth when he sprawled on his belly while catching a popped up bunt attempt following Machis leadoff walk.

It wasnt all superlatives for the Giants in the field, though. They had a clear shot to throw out a runner at the plate in the second inning, but catcher Buster Posey set up ultra conservatively outside the batters box on the first base side.

Pences throw, which was on target and wouldve beaten the runner to the plate, short-hopped Posey and he couldnt secure the ball and reach back for a swipe tag. If Posey had stationed himself a little closer to the plate, he wouldve gotten a longer hop and a realistic chance to apply the tag and save Vogelsong a run. Its understandable that the Giants dont want Posey blocking the plate, but their group strategy must be reevaluated if the Giants make the postseason.

The Giants announced 41,038 paid, not including the kayakers in the cove who finally had a splash homer to chase.

Up next
The Giants play the rubber match of their three-game series with Arizona on Wednesday night. Madison Bumgarner (14-9, 3.07) will oppose right-hander Trevor Cahill (9-11, 4.02).

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors


Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

SAN FRANCISCO — Just around dinner time on Monday, Tyler Beede got a call he had been waiting for. General manager Bobby Evans informed Beede, the Giants’ top pitching prospect, that he was being added to the 40-man roster, a significant step toward making his big league debut. Earlier that day, however, Beede’s phone brought him some unwanted news. 

Like most Giants fans, Beede woke up to a report out of South Florida that he was one of several names the Giants and Marlins had discussed in Giancarlo Stanton trade talks. For fans or team employees, it would be painful to give up a Beede or a Chris Shaw or a Joe Panik, but images of Stanton taking aim at the Coke bottle at AT&T Park would soon wash away most concerns. 

For players, the reality this time of year is much different. The Giants are the only organization that all of the rumored pieces have ever known. Panik is a New Yorker, but he and his wife have grown to love San Francisco. Beede and Shaw have spent years dreaming of debuting at AT&T Park and playing in front of sellout crowds. That makes the Hot Stove Season a particularly tense time of year. 

“I try to be a guy who doesn’t look those kinds of things up too frequently, but obviously I’m a normal guy, so I tend to dig into it a little bit more and see what’s going on and see what people are saying,” Beede said on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast. “It’s funny. I don't really know how to handle it. It’s my third year going through the trade deadline and trade talk. I’ve just go to keep telling myself it’s a realistic possibility and not to be shocked if anything were to come out or a trade were to be made.”

The rumor mill is nothing new for these players. Panik acknowledged several times during the season that he could be the odd man out. Shaw actually already once thought he got traded to Florida. For a few minutes at the 2016 deadline, Twitter had him as a key piece in the Matt Moore deal. The outfielder came out of a hotel bathroom right after the deadline to see two teammates staring at him in disbelief as Twitter rumors flew. 

Five minutes later, he got a call from Bobby Evans. “You’re still a Giant,” Evans told him. “Don’t take your jersey off.”

“It’s a little tense for sure,” Shaw said earlier this year. “It’s not something you can try to predict. You can have a feeling but that means nothing.”

Evans has always communicated to players and their agents that they can reach out any time they have a question or concern about what they might be hearing, but when it comes to getting on the phone himself, he treats the trade deadline and offseason differently. There’s more urgency to clear the air in July when players might have to take at-bats or throw pitches with rumors weighing on their minds. In the offseason, Evans will wait to reach out until deals are closer to being agreed upon. He tries not to worry as much about “hot stove banter,” he said. 

“In the offseason I think it’s a little less of an issue because a lot of things get thrown out there that don’t have validity,” he said. “We certainly don’t try to respond to every single rumor with an update because there are new rumors every hour, so it’s hard to keep up. A lot more names are mentioned this time of year.”

Players try to find different ways to get away from it all. Every year, several Giants prospects talk of playing golf during the trade deadline to stay away from MLB Network and their phones. For veterans, it’s often easiest to just take offseason vacations, and Panik planned to visit Europe with his wife. 

Beede has a somewhat unique distraction as rumors trickle out. He’s getting married on Saturday, which along with the holiday, has kept him busy all week. Still, he knows the rumors will be out there. 

“After a couple of days I start to just understand that (my) name is going to be in rumors or there may be things that people say or speculate,” he said. “(If) Bobby tells me something, or my agent says something, then I can start to maybe engage in it a little bit more. But as of right now, I’m just trying to go about my preparation and I’ll continue to enjoy being a San Francisco Giant.”

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.