Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants ride Bumgarner to 2-0 win in Game 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants ride Bumgarner to 2-0 win in Game 2

SAN FRANCISCO Pick your misery.Take Scott Spiezio, if you like. Or Salomon Torres. Pile together Jose Cruz Jr. near the line, Pudge Rodriguez holding a white baseball aloft or Bobby Richardson lunging to snare the final out at second base.The Giants erased so much of it in 2010. Theyre standing at the blackboard again.They hold a two-game edge in the World Series over the Detroit Tigers following a masterful night of pitching by Messrs. Madison Bumgarner and Co. in a 2-0 victory Thursday at AT&T Park.In an out-making fest in Game 2, the difference lay in what each club did with them. The Giants turned a double-play grounder from Brandon Crawford into one run in the seventh inning, then scored another in the eighth on Hunter Pences sacrifice fly.The Tigers, meanwhile, turned one of their two hits into a painful, wasteful out in the second inning. Detroit third base coach Gene Lamont sent Prince Fielder barreling home from first base on Delmon Youngs double, only to be cut down by second baseman Marco Scutaros smart relay throw and catcher Buster Poseys adept swipe tag.The Giants head to Detroit with high beams on, but the sedan is far from assembled. Teams that hit the road after winning the first two World Series games at home captured the championship on 29 of 36 occasions.The Giants also extended their postseason winning streak to five games the longest in franchise history.Starting pitching reportGiants pitching coach Dave Righetti was confident that Bumgarner figured something out in his side sessions after being bumped from the NLCS rotation. Righettis confidence was all manager Bruce Bochy needed.Bumgarner rewarded all parties. Despite leaving some 89-mph fastballs over the plate, he mixed location and eye level enough to keep the Tigers off balance and had much more bite on his slider while holding them to two hits in seven shutout innings.Combined with his Halloween night start in Game 4 of the World Series two years ago, Bumgarner became the first Giant to toss back-to-back World Series starts without allowing a run since Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson in 1905. He also became the first major league pitcher to begin his World Series career with 15-plus scoreless innings since Bostons Bruce Hurst in 1986.He struck out eight his most in an outing since Aug. 20 and walked two. It was a far cry from the 11.25 ERA he posted in his first two postseason starts, when his flat stuff compelled Bochy and Righetti to remove him from the rotation after the Cardinals crushed him in the NLCS opener.Bumgarners start began well enough. He struck out Austin Jackson on a called slider and got Omar Infante to foul a third-strike slider into Poseys glove, making the left-hander the third pitcher in Giants history to start a World Series game with two strikeouts. The others were Mathewson (in 1905) and Carl Hubbell (in 1933).Bumgarner struck out five of the first 10 hitters he faced -- a stunning turnaround after he struck out just two of the 20 batters he faced in his previous outing against the Cardinals.The Tigers are looking like a frustrated bunch. They chased some of Bumgarners misses up in the zone, helping him get through seven innings on just 86 pitches. Bumgarner and Game 1 starter Barry Zito have combined to hold the Tigers to one run on eight hits with 11 strikeouts in 12 23 innings.Bullpen reportSantiago Casilla retired all three hitters he faced in the eighth inning and Sergio Romo went fly out, strikeout and foul pop to first base in a 1-2-3 ninth inning to keep Miguel Cabrera in the on-deck circle.The Giants are 8-0 in the postseason when leading any time after the fifth inning.At the plateEven a shot to the head couldnt knock Doug Fister off his game.The Merced native kept the Giants off balance with a combination of curves, sliders and fastballs, often doubling and tripling up offspeed pitches like a master-level Rock, Scissors, Paper champion.The Giants threatened early just once, when Posey led off the second inning with a single and Gregor Blanco hit a two-out liner that glanced off the back of Fisters head and caromed high in the air, landing all the way in shallow center field.Amazingly, Fister did not appear injured, confused or stunned in the slightest as he called for another baseball. After a couple warmup pitches, trainers cleared him to remain in the game.Fister issued a walk to No. 8 batter Brandon Crawford, although that might have been more strategic as he moved along to Bumgarner and induced a pop-up to shortstop to strand the bases loaded.Bumgarner was the first of 12 consecutive batters retired by Fister, whose streak ended when Pablo Sandoval punched a two-out single in the sixth. But the Giants worked the right-hander for a few long at-bats, including a 10-pitch battle with Hunter Pence that ended with a well struck out to center field in the fourth.Fister began the seventh inning with 108 pitches and he lasted just one batter, as Pence connected on a 2-2 slider and snuck a ground ball through the left side.Left-hander Drew Smyly, a starter for most of the regular season, looked out of sorts while walking Brandon Belt, and it was a bit of a surprise when Gregor Blanco fouled off a bunt attempt on a 2-0 pitch. Blanco pulled back the bat while taking a ball to make it 3-1, but he kept at it on the next offering and the strategy proved sound. His bunt trickled up the third base line and never made a left turn, resting a few inches on the fair side of the chalk as three Tigers stared down at it, as if shooting marbles.Crawford followed with his grounder to second base. Tigers manager Jim Leyland had his infielders at double-play depth, so Infante never looked to the plate. If Leyland was signaling confidence to his hitters that they could score when down to six outs, it might have been misplaced.The Giants added a run in the eighth when Angel Pagan walked, stole second base to encourage an intentional walk to Sandoval, and then Posey walked to load the bases with one out. Pence followed with another productive out a fly out to center field that allowed Pagan to score easily.In fieldSandoval portrayed Richardson in the rewrite of history. He made an incredible reaction play while leaping to catch Miguel Cabreras hard-hit line drive down the third base line with a runner aboard in the fourth inning.But the play at the plate will go down in memory or in lamentation, for Tigers fans. Gregor Blanco collected Youngs double in left field and overthrew Crawford, but Scutaro was Jeter-like in his awareness while backing up the play. Scutaro took the throw and fired a perfect strike to Posey, who reached back and barely brushed Fielders ample backside an instant before his cleats slid across the plate.Fielder once turned another Giants catchers shoulder to hamburger remember Todd Greene? and he collided with backup Eli Whiteside last May, just a couple days after Poseys ankle was shattered by the Marlins Scott Cousins at home plate.Who knew a meeting of Fielder and Posey at the plate could result in a beautiful thing for Giants fans?AttendanceThe Giants announced 42,982 paid. They were led in Take Me Out to the Ballgame by noted Giants fanatic Colin Hanks. But remember, Colin if the Giants lose, theres no crying in baseball!Up nextThe Giants and Tigers travel on Friday and resume the World Series with Game 3 in Detroit on Saturday. Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (2-0, 1.42 ERA in three postseason starts) takes the mound against right-hander Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 1.35 ERA in two postseason starts). First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. PDT.

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.