Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 8, Padres 7


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 8, Padres 7


SAN DIEGO Petco Park is at sea level, so the Giants should not be out of breath after running the bases a bit.But youre never conditioned for 18 runs in two games here. Thats where the tally stands after five different players collected multiple hits and Joaquin Arias led the rallying charge in an 8-7 victory over the San Diego Padres Saturday night.Pablo Sandoval needed oxygen after hitting a triple, racing home on a sacrifice fly and chugging home from second base on a single. His strained hamstring appeared to handle the pace, which continued to be frenetic in a venue better known for eked-out victories and low-scoring losses.Giants manager Bruce Bochy played this one just about perfectly. He aggressively got Barry Zito out of there after four innings and the club trailing 4-1, then watched as pinch hitter Ryan Theriot singled to start a four-run rally.Bochy sat Brandon Crawford even though the shortstop was batting .419 over a career-best nine-game hitting streak, deciding to go with Arias instead because Padres left-hander Eric Stults was holding lefty hitters to a .142 average.Arias responded with a solo home run and a pair of RBI singles.And finally, Bochy lifted Jeremy Affeldt in the ninth after the Padres scored twice and put the tying run on base. Clay Hensley made that move pay off too, striking out Mark Kotsay to end it.The Giants kept the line moving, as Bochy often says. They didnt strike out until Angel Pagan went down looking to end the sixth. They put the ball in play, and good things happened including sacrifice flies by Marco Scutaro, Hunter Pence and Buster Posey, who hit rockets to right field all night.The Giants have seen more sacrifices than the graven images chapter in Exodus. They lead the major leagues with 46 sacrifice flies.Starting pitching reportBarry Zito threw just 33 strikes among his 60 pitches. His command most gloriously escaped him on one specific offering to Carlos Quentin in the second inning.Zito lost the pitch out of his hand and it popped straight in the air, landing like a lawn dart 20 feet in front of the plate and then rolling toward the batter. Call it a mega-eephus. Zito didn't appear amused as he called for another baseball.That wasnt the pitch that cost Zito, though. He most wanted back the 1-0 cutter down the middle that Chase Headley turned around for a three-run home run in the third inning. It was Headleys eighth homer in August, which leads the majors. He also leads the majors with 24 RBIs this month.Zito retired five of his next six batters to get through four innings, but manager Bruce Bochy had seen enough. With the Giants trailing 4-1, he had Ryan Theriot pinch-hit for Zito leading off the fifth.It marked the fourth time in his last five outings that Zito failed to complete six innings.Bullpen reportEric Hacker had a golden chance for his first major league victory. He entered a 5-4 game after the Giants had rallied to take the lead, and the official scorer couldnt award the victory to Zito because he didnt pitch the five required innings to qualify for the decision.Hacker tossed a scoreless fifth, but the 29-year-old Texan lost his claim when he served up a tying home run to Carlos Quentin leading off the sixth.Then the bullpen stabilized for a spell. Jose Mijares got an out to end the sixth and another to start the seventh while picking up his first victory as a Giant. Santiago Casilla retired both batters he faced and Sergio Romo worked a scoreless eighth.Jeremy Affeldt got two quick outs in the ninth, but a walk and two singles got the Padres within a run. Hensley entered to face pinch hitter Mark Kotsay, getting ahead with sinkers before getting him to swing through a change-up to end it.Hensley recorded his third save of the season.At the plateArias rewarded Bochy for putting him in the lineup. He connected for the second home run of his career (in 235 at-bats), a solo shot in the second inning, and kept on hitting the ball hard with runners on base.It was Theriot who sparked the Giants to their four-run rally in the fifth. He singled, Angel Pagan stayed on an outside pitch while hitting a sharp double to left field and Marco Scutaro continued yet another productive night with a 400-foot sacrifice fly that center fielder Cameron Maybin caught on the run near the wall.The Giants received a break after that after Headley made a mental mistake. The third baseman lunged to catch Pablo Sandovals hard grounder and inexplicably threw home when he had no shot at getting Pagan. It was scored an RBI and a fielders choice, although it more closely resembled fielders temporary insanity.The Giants took advantage, as Sandoval chugged around to third base on Buster Poseys double and scored the tying run on Hunter Pences sacrifice fly. Arias followed with a sharp single that scored Posey from second base to give the Giants a 5-4 lead.Scutaro set the table again when he and Sandoval singled off Brad Brach to put runners at the corners with no outs. Posey, who stung the ball to right field all game long, hit a tie-breaking sacrifice fly and Arias came through with his third RBI hit of the game.In fieldSandoval made the spectacular stop of the game, lunging to his right and making a clean stab of Headleys hard grounder in the fifth. Sandoval gathered himself without delay and made a strong throw to end the inning.But the most valuable defensive play might have come in the second inning, when the Padres netted just one run despiteloading the bases with no outs. Cameron Maybin hit into a fielders choice that might have been a double play if Arias had been a little swifter to cover second base. But inexplicably, Maybin tried to steal with one out and a runner at third. Catcher Buster Posey made a perfect throw to gun down Maybin and minimize what couldve been a big inning.And hey, that 3-6-3 double play was pretty darn nice behind Sergio Romo to end the eighth. An extra pudding cup for Brandon Belt, if he wants it.AttendanceThe Padres announced 33,849 paid. Randomly, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made an appearance. Youre welcome, Brian Wilson.Up nextThe Giants go for a three-game sweep at Petco Park with a Sunday afternoon game behind Ryan Vogelsong (10-6, 2.72), who is coming off his worst outing as a Giant. Hell try to get back in a groove against left-hander Clayton Richard (9-12, 3.91).

With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani


With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants continue to wait for a resolution to the Giancarlo Stanton chase, they may soon find themselves bidding on another superstar talent they have long coveted. 

According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreed to a new posting system that should allow Shohei Ohtani to be made available in about 10 days. Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported that MLB owners must ratify the agreement next Friday and Ohtani would then be posted that day or the following day. 

The Giants have made no secret of their desire to jump feet-first into that process, and general manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley visited Japan in September to scout Ohtani, a potential two-way star. Ohtani wants to be a starter and a hitter in the big leagues, as he was in Japan, and after watching tape of the 23-year-old, Bruce Bochy said he would be on board. 

"He's good," Bochy said after a game at Dodger Stadium late in the season. "I absolutely would play him every day."

There has been little clarity over the past two months as MLB teams have waited for the negotiations to play out. Per Sherman, there will be new posting rules in future years but Ohtani will operate under the old system. That limits the Giants to a $300,000 bonus because they went over their spending limit in 2015, but club officials don't believe that will disqualify them. Very little is known about Ohtani's preferences, but by coming to the United States in 2017, he is potentially forfeiting a $200 million deal as a free agent. That alone is enough to validate the fact that the Giants can safely chase Ohtani, knowing that the signing bonus won't be a deal breaker.

MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions


MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions

ATLANTA -- The Braves lost 13 prospects and former general manager John Coppolella was banned for life by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for circumventing international signing rules from 2015-17.

Former Atlanta special assistant Gordon Blakeley, who was the team's international scouting chief, was suspended from baseball for one year by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Sanctions imposed by Manfred will leave the Braves unable to bargain at full strength for a top Latin American prospect until 2021.

Manfred said MLB's investigation determined the Braves moved international signing bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Most notable among the players the Braves will lose is Kevin Maitan, an infielder from Venezuela who signed for $4.25 million in 2016.

Other "high-value" players the Braves will lose include Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Pena, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga.

Three more international signees - Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre - were declared free agents. The team's contract with prospect Ji-Hwan Bae, which was not yet final, was disapproved. Finally, the Braves were banned from signing prospect Robert Puason in the 2019-20 signing period.

The 13 players will be free to negotiate as free agents with other teams.

Also, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 draft as punishment for offering "impermissible benefits" to an unnamed draft pick in an effort to convince him to sign for a lower bonus.

The investigation showed the players signed by the Braves in 2016-17 would have been unavailable if the team had not circumvented the rules by moving bonus pool money.

Manfred said stripping the Braves of the 13 players was not sufficient punishment. He said "additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the club for the violations committed by its employees."

Therefore, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period. Also, the team's international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.

The Braves already cannot give an international signing bonus of more than $300,000 for 2017-18 and 2018-19 as penalties for exceeding their signing bonus pools under baseball's previous labor contract.

And there is still more discipline to be handed down.

Manfred said he intends "to discipline other Braves international baseball operations employees who participated in the misconduct."

Coppolella was forced to resign after the season. Former team president John Hart was moved to a senior adviser role when a new general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, was hired on Nov. 13. Hart left the team on Friday.

"The senior baseball operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves," Manfred said. He also said the Braves "cooperated throughout the investigation."

Coppolella did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The Braves braced fans for the sanctions when team chairman Terry McGuirk apologized to fans "on behalf of the entire Braves family" for the rules violations at the news conference to introduce Anthopoulos.

The Braves said in a statement released Tuesday they "understand and accept the decision regarding the penalties that have been handed down.

"As we expressed last week, our organization has not lived up to the standard our fans expect from us and that we expect from ourselves. For that, we apologize. We are instituting the changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again and remain excited about the future of Braves baseball."

Manfred said he is confident the Braves management team led by McGuirk, Anthopoulos and vice chairman John Schuerholz "have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been."

The Braves are not the first team to be found guilty of violating rules in signing international players.

In 2016, the Boston Red Sox lost five players and were banned from signing international amateur free agents for one year as punishment for rules violations on signing bonuses.