Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Cardinals 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 4, Cardinals 2

ST. LOUIS Buster Posey is putting up video-game numbers. Barry Zito is putting up his best work when its least expected.And Jeremy Affeldt looks like the Giants new man in the ninth inning, in deed if not in name.Poseys three-run home run gave the Giants the lead in the first inning and Zito stayed aggressive, pitching into the seventh without walking a batter as the Giants defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night.Starting pitching reportBack in April, Zitos season debut was a shutout at Coors Field -- proving that baseball is more unpredictable than the weather or the derivatives market.His odds were just as long Tuesday night. Zito entered with an 11.35 ERA in three career starts at Busch Stadium, he was coming off one of his worst outings of the season and the Cardinals talented, right-handed heavy lineup had just made patient, potent work of Matt Cain a night earlier.But Zito (9-8) worked into the seventh inning, he didnt walk a batter and the only runs he allowed came when Cal alum Allen Craig hit solo homers in the third and fifth. (Cal triumphs over USC in all athletic endeavors, right?)It was just the 15th time in Zitos 384 career starts that he completed at least 6 23 innings without walking a batter.The most important out that Zito recorded came in the first inning. Just like his previous start against the Mets, he got two quick outs before the Cardinals threatened on Matt Hollidays single and Carlos Beltrans double. But unlike last time, when the Mets tallied four runs, Zito escaped when David Freese grounded out to shortstop Brandon Crawford.Zito was past his toughest level, too. Entering the game, he had allowed 20 of his 64 runs in the first inning.Zito even brought the universe a little nearer to equilibrium with Skip Schumaker, who entered 7 for 12 off the left-hander. The Cardinals leadoff man went 0 for 4 and struck out on a pitch that hit him.Bullpen reportAffeldt might not be the Giants closer in name, but he is in deed.Clay Hensley got the final out in the seventh and Sergio Romo recorded two outs in the eighth before Yadier Molina hit a double. Affeldt did the rest, retiring Jon Jay and then plowing through the ninth inning to record his third save of the season.Affeldt started a double play when he fielded a comebacker, then struck out Daniel Descalso to end it.Strangely, Santiago Casilla had warmed up in the seventh inning (as did newest Giant Jose Mijares), but it was Brad Penny not Casilla who warmed up behind Affeldt in the ninth.Perhaps Casillas troublesome blister is an issue again.At the platePosey has his own video game app called Buster Bash, and as someone whos downloaded the free game, I can tell you it gets significantly harder to hit home runs after Level 1.In real life, and at the highest level, Posey must have all the pass codes. After his three-run home run off 13-game winner Lance Lynn, these were his video-game numbers since the break: .446 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 22 games.His 30 RBIs since the break are the most by any major leaguer. He has homered in five of his last six games. His hitting streak is up to 11 games, too.Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro singled ahead of Poseys shot off Lynn, which was one of those typical Buster blasts that just kept on carrying to center field.The Giants blew a chance to add to their lead in the second inning, after Nos. 7-8 hitters Brandon Crawford and Joaquin Arias opened it with a double and a single. Zito executed a sacrifice to move Arias into scoring position, too. But after Pagan walked, Scutaro grounded into a double play.They hit into some tough luck when center fielder Jon Jay made a running catch of Pagans deep drive to the warning track to strand two runners in the fourth. Right fielder Carlos Beltran reached near the top of the wall to catch Hunter Pences drive with a man aboard to end the fifth.But the Giants caught a break in the sixth when Brandon Belt, who was running with the pitch to Crawford, stutter-stepped around a tag to avoid a strike em out-throw em out double play. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny argued that Belt was out of the baseline, and it appeared he had veered onto the grass. But Belt was ruled safe and he scored when Arias followed with a double.In fieldThe Giants made outs on the basepaths on consecutive pitches in the seventh inning. Marco Scutaro was thrown out trying to steal second base, then Melky Cabrera doubled on the following delivery. He was thrown out trying to stretch a double, as Beltran recorded his second assist in as many games.AttendanceThe Cardinals announced 41,293 paid. It was the eighth sellout of the season at Busch Stadium. We long for the days when actual Clydesdales paraded around the field during the Seventh Inning Stretch.Up nextThe Giants play the third game of a four-game series at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. Ryan Vogelsong (9-5, 2.38) shoots for his second victory of the road trip. Hell oppose hard-throwing rookie right-hander Joe Kelly (2-4. 3.14), whose ERA suggests it should be easy as pi to hit him.

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

SAN FRANCISCO — The field at AT&T Park is covered with patches and small piles of dirt right now, showing the signs of a winter hosting holiday parties and concerts, and a week with plenty of rain. 

For Evan Longoria, though, that grass was a beautiful sight.

A month after a trade that had him switching coasts, Longoria was introduced at a press conference at AT&T Park and ran the usual gauntlet with team employees and season-ticket holders. He spent some time this week looking for housing in the Bay Area, but soon he’ll be back in Scottsdale, getting to know new teammates and preparing his body for the 2018 season. 

Longoria said his workouts have been a bit different with a new staff, but the goal remains the same. He is a player who prides himself on taking the field every day, and that’s one of the traits that drew the Giants to Longoria. He has played at least 156 games in five consecutive seasons, and 160 in four of those seasons. 

It’s no accident that Bruce Bochy has mentioned durability during every media session this season. Andrew McCutchen has a similar track record, and the Giants lineup certainly could use some stability, especially at third base, where seven different players made double-digit starts last season. Longoria will change that. 

“I have a desire to play every day, and I think that that is infectious,” he said. “Players that may feel the grind of a long season or might be in a little bit of a funk offensively or defensively or with pitching, something like that can give you a boost when you have guys around that you know come to play and compete on a daily basis, no matter what the circumstance is.”

[RELATED: Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster]

For Longoria, who turned 32 early in the offseason, the circumstance has changed for the better. After years on the unforgiving turf at The Trop, he comes to a park and division featuring nothing but natural grass. 

“I hope it helps,” he said. “Going on the road (with the Rays), my body definitely felt better when I played on grass. I’m sure that it will help. It’s definitely not going to be a negative. Not playing on the turf anymore is something that crossed my mind as soon as the trade happened.”

Longoria expects to benefit from another aspect of AT&T Park, too. The Rays finished dead last in the majors last year with an average of 15,670 fans per game. Even though their sellout streak ended, the Giants still had an average of more than 40,000 per night. Asked about playing outdoors, Longoria smiled and added, “in front of fans.”

“The environment here is obviously much different, so it’s going to be nice to step into that on a daily basis and play in front of a fan base that’s obviously very storied,” he said. “It helps with energy. It helps with motivation.”

McCutchen ready for more conversations with 'Steve the Seagull' at AT&T Park

McCutchen ready for more conversations with 'Steve the Seagull' at AT&T Park

Andrew McCutchen has been one of the best players in the National League for years now. The 31-year-old is a five-time All-Star and was named the 2013 NL MVP. 

Not only do his stats stand out, McCutchen is also one of the most entertaining players in baseball. And that's clearly going to continue in San Francisco. 

On Thursday, McCutchen was asked about the famous seagulls of San Francisco flying around the outfield at AT&T Park. 

"I definitely made a few friends out there over the years. Steve the Seagull out there, I know him," McCutchen said on KNBR. "He comes in every now and then. We have a little pow-wow when I come to San Francisco. Yeah, we get along well, me and the guys, me and the birds. They know when to come in that's for sure." 

Denard Span, who the Giants traded to acquire Evan Longoria, had a much different relationship with the seagulls. 

McCutchen is clearly the opposite of Span in this regard though. He seems about as calm as can be when it comes to the birds paying him a visit. 

"They chill, we have some conversations. It's all good," says McCutchen. 

One other aspect McCutchen can't wait for in the outfield at AT&T Park, is getting to know all the fans. Specifically, not being a part of a special chant Giants fans have for opposing outfielders. 

"I'm lookin' forward to fans not callin' me bums anymore," McCutchen said with a laugh. "I'm glad I'm on the winning side. I'm glad I'm on the San Francisco Giants side. I can't wait to meet all the fans."