Baggs' Instant Replay: Pirates 3, Giants 1


Baggs' Instant Replay: Pirates 3, Giants 1


PITTSBURGH Back in April, when James McDonalds single was the only thing that separated Matt Cain from a perfect game, the Pirates pitcher expressed surprising remorse.

Wonder what hes feeling now?

McDonald injured the Giants in a much different way on a brutally hot Saturday afternoon at PNC Park. He pitched masterfully over seven innings, mixing a boring fastball with breaking pitches on the black while striking out 10. Ryan Vogelsong could not match him as the Giants lost 3-1 to even the series.
Starting pitching report

A Giant has not entered the All-Star break as the NL ERA leader since Atlee Hammaker (1.70) in 1993. Vogelsong (7-4) entered the day with the best mark in the league, at 2.26.

By the end of Saturdays proceedings, Vogelsong stood at 2.36 one point behind the Reds Johnny Cueto, who will start on Sunday. McDonald is right behind them both, at 2.37.

What else do Cueto, Vogelsong and McDonald have in common, other than ranking 1-2-3 in the NL in ERA? All three were snubbed for the NL All-Star team.

The Pirates scratched Vogelsong for a run in the third inning, when McDonald led off with a walk and scored from first base on Neil Walkers double. Michael McKenry, the Pirates backup catcher, hit his seventh homer of the season a solo shot in the fourth.

The Pirates plated a third run in the sixth when Andrew McCutchen singled and scored on Pedro Alvarezs opposite-field double. The drive missed being a home run by a foot or two, as it struck high off the wall in the left field corner.

Vogelsong still fought through the heat and a 27-minute rain delay to provide a quality start for the 15th time in 16 assignments. He has completed at least six innings every time hes taken the mound this season.

Bullpen report

Santiago Casilla was unavailable because of his blister, but the Giants didnt need him. At least they were able to get a day of rest for interim-interim closer Sergio Romo.

At the plate

The Giants were sunk the moment the Pirates put a run on the board. McDonald entered with an 8-3 record, and the Pirates were shut out in all three of his losses including that April game at AT&T Park against Cain.

McDonald faced one more than the minimum in the first five innings. They broke through for a run in the sixth when Gregor Blanco hit a two-out single, advanced on a wild pitch and Ryan Theriot came through with an RBI single in a terrific at-bat. He was down 0-2 before working the count full, then grounded his hit through the middle.
In field

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval ranged to make a nice play that saved a run in the sixth inning and Blanco made a sliding catch in the third, but the Pirates flashed the leather when it most mattered.

After Blanco reached on a bunt single in the ninth, shortstop Clint Barmes turned into a vacuum cleaner on a pair of grounders. Buster Posey flung his helmet after right fielder Garrett Jones ran down a deep drive in the right field corner.


The Pirates announced 34,545 paid on Sauna Day at the ballpark.

Up next

The Giants finish their road trip and the unofficial first half with an afternoon game under sweltering skies at PNC Park. Tim Lincecum (3-9, 6.08) will try to keep from melting down against right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-2. 3.74). First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. EDT.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role


Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered


Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.