Giants are loose, confident as they hit stretch drive


Giants are loose, confident as they hit stretch drive

CHICAGO Matt Cain usually talks with his fastball.

But ask him about the dynamic in the dugout, or theclubhouse, or on the team flights or anyplace where the NL West-leading Giantscongregate these days, and watch him turn from laconic to loquacious.

What gives Cain the most optimism as the Giants begin the unofficialstretch run Monday, with all 28 games left on the schedule against divisionopponents?

Its the way this group of guys is, said Cain, after theGiants staged a comeback, scored twice in the ninth and pulled out a 7-5victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Theres just a good feelingin the clubhouse. Guys are having fun. Theyre excited to come to the field. Wevehad that since day one of spring training. Theres times you go through a longseason and you just kind of get tired of everybody, but these guys have beenfun all year.

A little less madcap than 2010, sure. This team has morewedding rings than Van Cleef & Arpels. Even the younguns like MadisonBumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt are on thestraight-and-narrow path.

No red thongs in sight, mercifully.

They are similar in one respect, though.

Were all on the same page, Cain said. I think you haveto have that to have a winning season.

OK, so Cain didn't make any bold, Jonathan Sanchez-type predictions about the NL West. You'll hear no chest puffing or "they're not going to catch us" pronouncements. The Giants respect the Dodgers' talent too much to say this division race is nearing an end.

L.A. WATCH: Dodgers score twice in ninth, walk off on D'backs

But make no mistake: This is not a team that expects to fall out of first place.

All on the same page, their group theater required a bit of improvisation on a breezy Sunday afternoonat Wrigley Field. Xavier Nady started all three rallies. They strung togetherhits. After Cain missed his spot (middle-middle, belly button, as hedescribed it) and paid for it on Alfonso Sorianos three-run home run that gavethe Cubs a 5-3 lead, there was no give-up on the visiting side.

Theres a feeling in the dugout that even if things arentgoing right, we still feel were in the game, Cain said. Ive been on teamsbefore when you dont feel youre in the game. This team feels theres achance, if we do the right things, well find a way to win. Its a good feelingto have.

Even the new guys have taken notice.

Ive been part of good teams and this one seems like aneasy one to get along with, Nady said. You dont have any real egos here.

Its always an ego boost to go 5-1 on your last two roadtrips, as the Giants have done after taking care of business against theHouston Astros and Cubs despite some tough travel circumstances. They thrivedeven though they had to play 12 of 16 away from AT&T Park.

EXTRA BAGGS: Giants' relief committee slices and dices, etc.

Its a big change from the squad that had so much trouble onthe East Coast in the first half, including a 1-5 trip to Washington andPittsburgh entering the All-Star break.

The way we ended the first half really bothered people,said left-hander Javier Lopez, who got a double-play grounder to end Sundaysvictory. There was a concerted effort when we got back, especially on theseroad trips, to play the way we can. We didnt finish the drill like we wantedto. We knew we couldnt do that and stay in the race.

Their lineup, despite a severe shortage of power, isdrilling everything in sight. At the break, the Giants were hitting .224 withrunners in scoring position and .184 with RISP and two outs. Now theyvebumped those season averages to .251 and .197.

Its not striking out in those situations, Giants managerBruce Bochy said. Its timely hits. Thats what it takes when you dont hitthe longball.

Angel Pagan got robbed by the third baseman and centerfielder in two previous at-bats, but he got a hit to fall when the Giantsneeded it most. His two-strike single on a slider from Carlos Marmol put theGiants in front.

Make an at-bat as tough as possible, Pagan said.

Even Aubrey Huff was able to do that, despite getting hisfirst at-bat since July 30 (and fourth since June 10), he was able to foul offa two-strike pitch when appearing as a pinch hitter in the sixth. Stayingalive, just like his old walkup music. And that made an impact when the nextpitch from Manny Corpas bounced away and allowed Belt to score the tying run.

The Giants offense is working without the home run becausethey are creating opportunities, starting with Pagan in the leadoff spot. Heshitting .350 with a .423 on-base percentage in 29 games since moving atop thelineup Aug. 3. The team is 20-9 over that span. And Pagan said the move was hisidea.

We needed somebody to get on base, he said. I asked Bochyto put me in there because I knew I needed to simplify things and I could be ahelp to the team. I think it was a good thing for us. I got there when the teamneeded me the most.

Pagan has scored 33 runs over the last 29 games. His 32 runsin August was the most in the major leagues. Nobody else in the NL was evenremotely close (The Brewers Rickie Weeks was next, with 22.)

You have to love his focus up there, Bochy said.

The Giants know their focus cannot waver now, even with a 412-game lead. They still have six more against the free-spending Dodgers, andthe rest of the division wont roll over for them, either.

Cain likes the way the Giants are positioned. And he likesthe vibe.

Were not trying to repeat. Were just trying to win, Cainsaid. Guys are just, whatever, lets find a way to win today.

Report: Giants make trade offer for Giancarlo Stanton


Report: Giants make trade offer for Giancarlo Stanton

The hot stove is heating up. 

Giancarlo Stanton is the biggest name swirling in trade rumors and the Giants are reportedly pushing forward in their attempt to acquire the slugger. San Francisco's front office has proposed a trade to Miami for Stanton, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic

Details of what the Giants offered have not been reported yet. 

Stanton, who recently turned 28, is guaranteed $295 million over the next 10 seasons. His contract includes a full no-trade clause and an opt-out after 2020. 

On Thursday, Stanton was named the National League MVP after hitting .281 with a league-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBI. The last MVP to be traded in the offseason after winning the award was Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers to the Yankees before the 2004 season. 

How seven Giants prospects performed in the 2017 Arizona Fall League


How seven Giants prospects performed in the 2017 Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League came to an end for seven Giants prospects on Thursday as the Scottsdale Scorpions (12-17-1) came up short from playing in Saturday's championship game. 

Let's take a look at how these seven names fared against some of the top young talent in all of baseball. 

The Hitters

As the Giants are linked to trade targets in center field like Billy Hamilton and Jackie Bradley Jr., a young in-house option only helped his case in the desert.

Steven Duggar likely would have seen the AT&T outfield this season, but his season was hindered by injuries, keeping him to only 44 games between three levels. With the Scorpions, Duggar took advantage of his opportunity with more at-bats. 

Duggar left Arizona with a .263/.367/.421 slash line over 20 games. The speedy lefty also stole nine bases and hit three home runs. Even if the Giants go for an experienced glove in center field this offseason and keep Duggar, the 24-year-old has also played 135 games in right field during his minor league career. 

For the second straight year, the Giants sent catcher Aramis Garcia to the AFL. And he's sure to be coming home much happier this go around with an up-and-down campaign.

Splitting time behind the plate with three other catchers, Garcia appeared in 13 games and slashed .259/.293/.333 and hit one home run. Garcia struggled to get one base with only one walk to 10 strikeouts, but showed his natural ability to drive runs in with 10 RBI. 

Rounding out the Giants' trio of bats they sent to Arizona is arguably their top prospect, but his time in the AFL was cut short. Chris Shaw only played in five games and hit .158. He dealt with a sore shoulder.

The Pitchers

The Giants sent two starting pitchers (Tyler Beede and Joan Gregorio) and two relievers (Tyler Cyr and D.J. Snelten) to the AFL. 

Pitching for the first time in nearly three months, Beede showed exactly why he's the Giants' top pitching prospect. Beede went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts, but his final three show the potential he's full of -- 14 innings pitched, three earned runs, a 1.93 ERA, 10 strikeouts and only one walk. 

Gregorio, who was suspended this season for Performance Enhancing Drugs, pitched in eight games (three starts) for Scottsdale. He left with a 1-0 record and 5.87 ERA. In Triple-A, Gregorio went 4-4 with a 3.04 ERA this year over 13 starts. The 25-year-old presents an interesting arm that can help sooner than later in the bullpen. 

Cyr's stats don't look pretty (0-1, 5.63 ERA, 8 IP), but he's catching some attention. The right-hander was named to the Fall Stars Game and is most likely to start 2018 in Triple-A after converting 18 saves at Double-A in 2017. 

Snelten, a 6-foot-7 lefty, impressed in eight appearances out of the bullpen. He didn't allow an earned run until his final outing of the fall, bringing his ERA from a perfect 0.00 to 2.25 in 12 innings pitched.

After combining for a 2.20 ERA to go with an 8-1 record between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017, Snelten is a name to know as the Giants look to find more lefties for their bullpen.