Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, Phillies 5 (10)


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 6, Phillies 5 (10)

SAN FRANCISCO If at first you dont succeed, squeeze, squeeze again.

Gregor Blanco apparently missed a suicide squeeze sign in the eighth inning that hung out Buster Posey to dry in a tie game. But Blanco got all square in the 10th.

With runners at the corners, he laid down a perfect bunt down the first base line. Either it was a safety squeeze or Blanco made the decision on his own as the 3-1 pitch from Jonathan Papelbon screamed to the plate. Either way, Melky Cabrera scored without a play, and the Giants held on behind Santiago Casilla to take a 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Blancos small-ball exploits were the end chapters in a game otherwise ruled by home runs. Matt Cain and Cole Hamels hit solo shots in the third inning, becoming the first starting pitchers to go deep off each other since Kevin Millwood and Denny Stark in 2002. No major league pitchers had homered off each other in the same inning since Kevin Gross and Fernando Valenzuela in 1990.

And it was the first time in Giants franchise history (since 1919, at least) that a Giants starting pitcher and opposing starter both homered in the same game. (The last time two pitchers went deep in a game involving the Giants, Mike Krukow homered off Eric Show at San Diego in 1988 and Padres reliever Mark Davis hit one out off Don Robinson in the eighth.)

Posey tagged a two-run shot in the third inning as part of a huge, four-hit night. But Cains 4-2 lead disappeared in the sixth when he served up a three-run shot to Ryan Howard.

Poseys fourth hit helped set up the rally in the 10th as the Giants clinched a winning road trip and won for the seventh time in eight games following the All-Star break. Theyre 12 over .500 for the first time this season.

Starting pitching report
Giants starting pitchers were 6-1 with a 1.30 ERA in seven games since the All-Star break. Cain couldnt continue that run of excellence while allowing five runs, although he only paid for three mistakes while throwing an economical 97 pitches over eight innings.

Chase Utley homered off him in the first inning and Hamels shot in the third was his first career homer in 420 at-bats. But Howards shot in the sixth was most damaging of all.

Cain issued a leadoff walk to Jimmy Rollins and gave up a hit to Shane Victorino the 1000th of the Flyin Hawaiians career before Howard mashed a 1-2 fastball. It was just Howards third hit in 19 career at-bats against Cain all of them home runs.

It was the first three-homer game against Cain since Oct. 1, 2010 against San Diego, when he took the mound in a failed bid to clinch the NL West.

Bullpen report
The Giants bullpen never seems to get hit against the Phillies. Javier Lopez retired Howard in the ninth and Sergio Romo lowered his bingo-number ERA to 0.64 after retiring Carlos Ruiz and Hunter Pence.

Casilla, who had blown five of his last eight save chances, pitched around a one-out walk to Placido Polanco to nail it down.

At the plate
Hamels took the mound perhaps a few days away from signing a contract that could be worth more than 130 million. So his agent couldnt have been happy that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel let him throw 128 pitches.

Hamels had to battle, all right. He mostly pitched through traffic while flashing his tremendous changeup, but Cain pelted his second home run of the season in the third inning. It was the sixth homer in the third inning and Posey added a two-run shot.

Posey added yet another two-out, RBI hit on this road trip a single in the fifth after Ryan Theriot walked and stole his way into scoring position.

Posey improved to 4 for 6 against Hamels with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs.

Melky Cabrera hit a tying, solo homer in the eighth but the Giants missed an opportunity to take the lead. Posey doubled and took third on a ground out. Posey ran with the 1-1 pitch to Gregor Blanco, who presumably missed a squeeze sign as he took it for a ball. Posey, hung out to dry, couldnt beat the throw back to third base.

Brandon Belt continued his abysmal month by popping up to strand the bases loaded in the eighth. Belt also popped up with one out and the bases loaded in the 10th to complete an 0-for-5 night.
In field
The Giants were all lined up for a big inning in the fifth when Nate Schierholtz hit a leadoff
double and Theriot walked. But Phillies second baseman Chase Utley made a diving catch of Cabreras line drive and then reached with his glove to tag second base to double off Schierholtz.

The Phillies announced 45,809 paid surprisingly, the largest regular-season crowd in Citizens Bank Park history.

Up next
The Giants try to make it a banner, 5-1 trip and go for a three-game sweep in Sundays series finale. Left-hander Barry Zito (8-6, 3.75) hopes to finish the trip the way he started it in Atlanta. Hell oppose right-hander Joe Blanton (8-8, 4.79), his former As teammate. The Giants haven't had a three-game sweep in Philadelphia since 2004 -- a series that included J.T. Snow's memorable three-homer game.

McCutchen Mailbag: What does trade mean for Giants' young outfielders?

McCutchen Mailbag: What does trade mean for Giants' young outfielders?

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants will introduce Evan Longoria on Friday at AT&T Park (we’ll be airing it and doing Facebook Live, so get ready) and at some point they figure to get Andrew McCutchen up on a podium with a brand new jersey. 

At that point, McCutchen can talk a bit more about his new team and his walk year. For now, let’s run through some questions about the trade and what might come next … 

How are you liking this move, Alex? I love it. — @DionTheDude

I was an advocate of taking a step back in 2018 and rebuilding a bit for the future, but the Giants were never going to do that. So, if you’re going to go for it, I think McCutchen is the perfect fit and a really savvy move. I also don’t think it cost the Giants very much. For my full thoughts, check out the Emergency Andrew McCutchen Podcast I did with Ahmed Fareed. 

Slater showed some promise with the glove last season. Do you see him as an option in center field? 566 career CF innings in the minors. — @BrooksKnudsen 

I do, and at the winter meetings, team officials talked about him playing all three outfield spots. At the time it seemed the emphasis would be right field, but with McCutchen now out there, I would guess Slater sees most of his time in left with starts in center, as well. A lot of people asked about Slater, Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson etc. Simply put, the Giants are now in a position that normal teams hope to be in. They don’t have to rush some of these guys into a ton of starts in the outfield. The ones who have options can ride the Sacramento-San Francisco shuttle and provide more talent than in the past when a player gets hurt -- and on this old team, players will get hurt. Parker is out of options, but you’ll see some other familiar names fill out the outfield in Triple-A. If you missed it yesterday, here's the plan for Steven Duggar. 

Could the Giants go the Dee Gordon route and just sign Eduardo Nuñez to play center? - @raj_sidhu_123

I liked what the Mariners did with Dee Gordon, but Nuñez was pretty rough in left field last year. Having said that, I recently asked about him as a potential February addition, perhaps on a minor league deal if his market just turns out to be completely dry. I was told, “Nuñey is going to be just fine,” so I assume that he has some solid infield offers in hand. 

How about some pitching? - @pablodiablow 

My friend, we’re on the same page. The bullpen has been bad for two years and just lost a promising arm in Kyle Crick. Hopefully Derek Law fills that void, but he’s coming off a down year. I think they need another bullpen arm and another starter, because it would be rather shortsighted to build a lineup that you think can contend, and then turn the back end of the rotation over to a bunch of rookies. I expect a veteran or two to be in camp to compete for an Opening Day job. 

Does this mean Billy Hamilton is still possible? - @Gaberino4 

In conversations with sources, I haven’t heard Hamilton’s name in weeks. It was McCutchen, McCutchen, McCutchen at some point. I think that ship has likely sailed, as the Reds set a high asking price and didn’t waiver. Per Zach Buchanan, one of their beat writers, Hamilton is expected to start the season in Cincinnati. 

Was hanging onto Belt a priority? Seems like that would’ve been an ideal contract to get rid of given their cap issues. — @JoshSessler 

Yes, I’m told Belt was made just about untouchable at the start of the offseason, and frankly not many teams have asked about him given his potentially scary concussion issues. But to a larger point, holding Belt should’ve been a priority. He’s a good baseball player. End of story. Sorry, Belt Bashers. Even with McCutchen and Longoria, if I had to bet on who will lead the 2018 Giants in OPS, I would choose Belt. He should benefit quite a bit from hitting lower in the order. 

Do you have an estimate of how much money they still have for a center fielder? - @PeteDeBoerWar 

According to Cot’s, the best tracker out there, the Giants have about $4.4 million until they reach the tax. They were helped by the Pirates picking up $2.5 million of McCutchen’s $14.75 million deal. I think the actual number is $3-4 million under the tax, so that’s the budget for a defense-first center fielder, if that’s the way they go. 

You think they should go for Lorenzo Cain at a reasonable price now even if they lose the second-round pick? - @pejvahdat 

I do not. Cain is still going to be very expensive and he turns 32 in April, so forgive me for immediately thinking about the years I’ve spent covering an aging Angel Pagan and Denard Span. Cain is a much better defender than either of those two, but still, I think he comes with a lot of risk. Plus, the Giants just traded two of their top five prospects and they have a poor farm system. They need to nail those second- and fifth-round picks next year and add to what appeared to be a very good draft in 2017. At some point, a rebuild is coming. 

Where are all the people wanting Bobby Evans’ head now? — @kmav88

Oh, they’re still on Twitter. I still hear from them every day. Make no mistake about it, if this doesn’t work and the Giants fall well short of the postseason again, this will all come down on the front office. But for now, Evans has to be sleeping better. At the end of the day, he came away from the offseason with Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, and so far he’s kept ownership from paying the tax again and given them two new stars to sell. That’ll play. 

Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster


Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster

The Giants added two premier face of the franchise players this offseason in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. Together the two have combined for eight All-Star Game appearances. 

What they don't bring to San Francisco though, is youth. Longoria (32) and McCutchen (31) are the latest to join an again Giants roster. Buster Posey turn 31 in March, Johnny Cueto turns 32 in February, Hunter Pence turns 35 in April, Brandon Crawford turns 31 in January, and Brandon Belt turns 30 in April.

Father Time though, is far from getting Longoria and the rest of the Giants' stars according to the third baseman. 

"I believe that all of us believe we're in our prime and we are more than capable of competing," Longoria said Wednesday on KNBR. "That's just ways of making waves in the news. Our job is to just go out and do our job. I think we'll be just fine." 

Longoria is entering his 11th season in the big leagues. That has certainly added wear and tear on him, but also added knowledge of his body. 

"I'm definitely a different player," Longoria says now at 32 compared to 22. "There's a lot of ways that I prepare now that I didn't have to do or I didn't know how to do when I was a younger player. For me personally, it's going to be quite an experience."

While Longoria and McCutchen may not have the freshest pair of legs in baseball, they are two of the most durable players in the game. In 2017, both players appeared in 156 out of 162 games.

"Being prepared for the season is one thing and I know how to do that and I know how to get myself ready for that," Longoria said. "It's just a matter of the day in and day out homework so to speak that I'll have to do. That's gonna change based on the league and based on the division."