Giants

Baggs' Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Giants 3 (12)

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Giants 3 (12)

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Former As teammates Barry Zito and Joe Blanton traded twin outings.

Nate Schierholtz and John Mayberry Jr. traded two-homer performances.

After nine nullifying innings that felt like a tic-tac-toe marathon, the Giants and Phillies decided Sundays outcome in extras at Citizens Bank Park.

The Giants bullpen finally blinked in the 12th, when Jimmy Rollins one-out single off Brad Penny brought in Carlos Ruiz to send the Phillies to a 4-3 victory.

The Giants still managed to take two of three in both Atlanta and Philadelphia to complete a successful road trip. But they missed a chance to sweep a three-game series in Philly for the first time since 2004.

Starting pitching report
The Giants had a 4.85 road ERA when this trip began the third worst in the major leagues. So Zito stepped up in a huge way with a solid outing in Tuesdays series opener at Atlanta.

Zito ended the trip with another highly effective start at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, holding the Phillies to three runs on five hits in seven innings while setting a season high with seven strikeouts.

There were more than a few white-knuckle moments, though. The Phillies hit him mighty hard in the first inning but only got one run out of the deal.

Zito caught his first break when third baseman Pablo Sandoval snagged leadoff man Jimmy Rollins line drive. Shane Victorino walked and scored on Chase Utleys triple as the UCLA alum got the better of Zito.

But Zito, the former USC lefty, got a big assist from another Bruins alum. After Zito hit Ryan Howard with a pitch, shortstop Brandon Crawford made a deft backhand pickup of Hunter Pences grounder and threw off his back foot to start a double play.

It was a rough beginning, but Zito settled down and flashed some of the best offspeed stuff hes thrown all year. He escaped another jam in the third when he struck out Howard on a curveball that followed a series of cutters.

But Mayberry ripped a hanging, 3-2 slider in the fourth inning for a tying, solo shot. Mayberry jumped on the first pitch he saw in his next at-bat another slider, this one located a bit better that put the Phillies ahead.

Zito was undeterred by the two shots. He struck out the next two batters and issued just one walk on the day. Hes only issued two walks over his last two starts.

Bullpen report
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard probably see Javier Lopezs sidearm coming at them in their nightmares. The lefty got a double-play grounder and a strikeout from the Phillies duo in the eighth inning and Sergio Romo did his thing in a scoreless ninth.

Jeremy Affeldt was next with 1 23 innings, and Clay Hensley stranded the only runner he inherited.

Penny ran into trouble, though. First, Ty Wigginton hit a deep fly ball that Schierholtz caught as he crashed into the right field wall. But there was no defense for a walk to Carlos Ruiz, and the Phillies had runners at the corners after Laynce Nix singled down the right field line.

Rollins rifled his hit to center to end it.

At the plate
Schierholtz is really making a statement now.

Starting for the third consecutive day, the disgruntled outfielder tagged a 2-0 fastball to lead off the game. Then he barreled up a 2-1 changeup with two outs in the eighth to tie the score and prevent Blanton from winning.

The Giants only managed one other scoring rally against Blanton, and that came in the fourth when Buster Posey singled and Pablo Sandoval crushed a ball that hit a foot below the top of the wall in left-center. The hard carom allowed Posey to score from first base to give the Giants a 2-1 lead.

The Giants couldnt get Sandoval home, though. They also failed to push ahead after Schierholtzs shot in the eighth got them even. Ryan Theriot followed with a double and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel elected to have Blanton intentionally walk Melky Cabrera. It was a classic case of pick your poison, and Posey almost dug in his fangs. Right fielder Hunter Pence, a tangle of gawky limbs, barely managed to haul in Poseys deep drive with a basket catch on the warning track.

Crawford hit a leadoff double in the 12th, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn't have epically struggling first baseman Brandon Belt sacrifice him to third. Belt struck out to finish another 0-for-5 game. he's in a 2-for-27 slump since the All-Star break. Pinch hitter Emmanuel Burriss couldn't move Crawford, either. After an intentional walk to Schierholtz, Ryan Theriot flied out. It was the Giant's last chance.

In field
Crawford maintained his exceptional play at shortstop. He and Sandoval kept the Phillies from putting up a crooked number in the first inning.

Theriot added his highlight moment in the sixth when the second baseman barehanded Chase Utleys drag bunt and threw on the run to nip him at first base.

And Schierholtz nearly made the best play of all, when he came up firing after charging Blantons single in the third. Schierholtzs throw to first base was a split-second too late.

Attendance
The Phillies announced 44,551 paid. No active members of the Cody Ross fan club, we think.

Up next
The Giants must haul themselves across the country and dive right back into their next homestand on Monday. Ryan Vogelsong (7-4, 2.81) will oppose left-hander Clayton Richard (7-10, 3.86) and the San Diego Padres, who just locked up Carlos Quentin on a three-year contract and are negotiating to extend closer Huston Street as well. Madison Bumgarner (11-6, 3.12) opposes right-hander Edinson Volquez (6.7, 3.34) on Tuesday. Tim Lincecum will pitch Wednesdays series finale against right-hander Jason Marquis (3-5, 3.79).

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

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AP

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

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AP

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.