EXTRA BAGGS: Lopez's remarkable streak ends, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Lopez's remarkable streak ends, etc.


PITTSBURGH Javier Lopez turned on his heels, hopped onceand watched the ball soar over the center field stands to the banks of theAllegheny River. He smiled through gritted teeth and punched his glove, the waysomeone might when hitting black after collecting a dozen times on red.

It finally ended. And what a run it was.

Hard as it might be to believe, the home run Lopez served upto the Pirates Pedro Alvarez on Friday was the first hes allowed in a Giants uniform.

No need to reread. Lopez had faced 378 batters as a Giant and 18 more in the 2010 postseason without allowing a home run.

Yeah, I was aware, Lopez said. I try to keep the balldown but when I dont, things like that happen. It was my big slider. That onewas up, middle, and Pedros really got a good approach now. Hes balanced onthose breaking balls.

It wasnt a cheapie, either. He got it.

A reporter told him that it went 457 feet.

Well, I didnt really care that much, but I appreciate it,he said, with a wise smile.

Did he remember the particulars of the last home run, whichcame 136 appearances and 91 13 innings ago, when he was wearing a PittsburghPirates uniform, oddly enough?

Carlos Gonzalez, in Coors, he said, accurately recalling July 28, 2010. Samepitch, slider. He hit it off the face of the third deck.

You can tell me how far that one went, too.

Barry Zito was something less than impressive while battlingthrough five innings with a flat curveball in Friday's 6-5 victory, but he did exactly what the Giantshoped hed do in what amounted to a fifth-starter role: He gave them a chance towin.

He did that remarkably well in the first half. Zito ends itwith a 7-6 record. The Giants were 9-8 in his starts. That is more thanacceptable, considering the kerosene he was throwing in his final two outingsof the spring.

Im just fighting every day, Zito said. Im not going toback down. I think theres a lot of things to build on and a lot of things toimprove on. Ive got a pretty good rest now to work on some things and be readyagainst Atlanta.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy pointed out that Zito came uphuge from his very first start, when the club got kicked in the teeth in aseason-opening three-game sweep at Arizona. Zito picked them up by throwing hisremarkable shutout at Coors Field.

He was in a similar spot Friday at Pittsburgh, after theGiants were exhausted and maybe a little exposed while getting swept in threegames at Nationals Park. This one wasnt a shutout, but Zito found a way tominimize the damage after putting the team in a 3-0 hole.

Zito has a 4.01 ERA entering the break. In 2010, he was evenbetter at this stage. He was 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA at the break, and after acouple more strong starts, he stood at 8-6 with a 3.38 ERA at the end of July.

Then he went 1-8 with a 6.14 ERA in his last 12 games (11starts), and you know the rest. There was that ugly outing in the 161stgame of the season when he had a chance to lock down the division but walked inPadres with the bases loaded. And there were the three rounds of playoffbaseball when Zito, a former Cy Young winner with an outstanding postseasonrecord, had to deal with the ignominy of being off the roster.

So hes motivated to see this season through. Lord knows theGiants are counting on him, especially with Tim Lincecum still struggling to findhimself.

In 2010, the second half was just very difficult for me, especiallythe last six weeks, Zito said. I just wasnt in any rhythm or timing in mydelivery. Im cognizant of that and Im geared up to go out one start at a timeand keep battling.

On another note, Ryan Vogelsong is suddenly your NL ERAleader. Atlantas Brandon Beachy is hurt and fell out of qualifying. The CubsRyan Dempster also fell short of the requisite number of innings. So Vogelsongand his 2.26 ERA lead the Senior Circuit.

Makes his All-Star snub all the more noticeable.

Speaking of league leaders, the Pirates, Andrew McCutchenentered the day with an NL-best .35593 average. Melky Cabrera was next, at.35582.

They both put on a show. McCutchen was 3-for-5 with atriple, two RBIs and a run scored. Cabrera was 2-for-4 with a two-run home runthat tied the game in the fourth inning.

And at the end of the day: McCutchen was at a nice, round .36000.And Melky was at .35757

Were a long way from actually tracking the batting crown.But these guys have been so good this season. To watch them both at their craft(and both facing lefties, too, which they are absolutely mauling this season),was quite a treat.

Cabrera is almost certain to post the highest average by aGiant at the All-Star break since Barry Bonds in 2004, when he was hitting.365.

The rest of the list:

Willie Mays, 1958 (.358)
Rich Aurilia, 2001 (.356)
Melky Cabrera, 2012 (.357)
Jeff Kent , 2000 (.355)
Willie Mays, 1960 (.353)
Barry Bonds, 1993 (.348)

Just yesterday I was walking past the White House. So when my flight landed in Pittsburgh today, imagine my surprise when I found out why police wereblocking my taxi and other traffic on an onramp to I-376.

The presidential motorcade was about to pass through.President Obama was campaigning in Beaver County and en route to give a speechat Carnegie-Mellon University. I watched as several emergency vehicles led aprocession down an empty freeway that included police, several armored blackSUVs and a bus, presumably holding the press corps.

It dawned on me that the White House press corps really hasit good. Imagine they never get stuck in traffic!

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

MiLB/Sacramento River Cats

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

Every time the Journey song “Lights” plays throughout AT&T Park, the lyrics When the lights go down in the City ring too true for the Giants’ offense. There’s a power outage in San Francisco. 

The savior to this issue can soon be prospect Chris Shaw, who turns 24 years old on Oct. 20. Shaw, along with five other Giants prospects, is continuing his 2017 season among a multitude of baseball’s best young up-and-comers in the Arizona Fall League. As he takes the field for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Shaw’s bat is far from the top focus for the Giants. 

After playing right and left field at Boston College, the Giants turned Shaw into a first baseman once they selected the 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty in 2015. This year, the Giants’ front office decided to make a change. As the big league team continued to look for their own answers, Shaw saw himself in left field in 94 of the 125 games he played between Double-A and Triple-A this season. 

“I saw improvements through the course of the year,” Brian Sabean said about Shaw’s outfield defense on The Giants Insider Podcast. “The problem is playing left field in our left field isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.” 

The AFL is all about reps in left field for Shaw as the Giants have already said he will get a long look in spring training. He earned that right after a breakout year at the plate.

One week into the AFL though, Shaw’s bat is way behind. Through four games, Shaw is batting a pedestrian .133 (2-for-15), both hits being singles. But even in such a slow start there are positives. 

Shaw has walked three times to only two strikeouts. His only downfall at the plate once he reached Triple-A Sacramento was his on-base percentage fell from .390 in Double-A to .328 at the higher level. With the River Cats, Shaw struck out 106 times, leading the team, while taking his base 20 times.

One week in the desert, Shaw is showing more patience and putting the ball into play more often. The ball simply isn’t finding grass.

In the outfield, every ball Shaw sees -- practice or game -- during the AFL is a step in the right direction for he and the Giants. He is yet to make an error in his short time at the AFL. The big lefty will never be a guy to make the spectacular play, but if he improves his instincts with the glove and improves his eye at the plate, the Giants can finally have their left fielder of the future. 

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster

LOS ANGELES — Shortstop Corey Seager has been left off the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster for the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers announced Seager's surprise omission due to a back injury on Saturday, several hours before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from its roster. Infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson were added.

Chicago made only one change from the last playoff round, adding reliever Hector Rondon and removing reliever Justin Wilson.

Seager complained of back soreness during the Dodgers' NL Division Series clincher in Arizona on Monday, and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year didn't participate in team workouts this week. Still, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that he was very optimistic that Seager would play in the NLCS.

Seager was an All-Star selection this season while batting .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs as a key part of the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Culberson all worked out at shortstop Friday for the Dodgers. The versatile Taylor was the Dodgers' center fielder during the NLDS, but he made 96 appearances in the outfield this season and 44 in the infield, including 14 games at shortstop.

Pederson is batting .071 with no homers since July, but the Dodgers could need him in center field if Taylor plays shortstop.

Culberson famously homered to clinch the Dodgers' NL West title in announcer Vin Scully's final home game last season, but the infielder spent most of this season at Triple-A, appearing in only 14 games for the Dodgers.

Rondon was the Cubs' closer in 2014 and 2015, but moved to a setup role last season after Aroldis Chapman's arrival. He appeared in 61 regular-season games this year, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in an up-and-down campaign.

Chicago acquired Wilson in a trade with Detroit on July 31, adding a veteran left-handed reliever who had 13 saves for the Tigers this season. The Southern California native wasn't great in his two months with the Cubs, posting a 5.09 ERA with 19 walks in 23 appearances.

Manager Joe Maddon chose Wilson for the NLDS over Rondon, only to switch it up against the Dodgers.