Giants can only grimace against McDonald


Giants can only grimace against McDonald

PITTSBURGH Last week at AT&T Park, when the Reds MatLatos carved up the Giants like butterballs, Pablo Sandoval made an interestingpostgame comment.

Hes working so fast, Sandoval said. We didnt take himout of his timing. Hes coming at us pitch after pitch.

The Giants faced another unrelenting presence at PNC Park onSaturday. James McDonald was coming after them again and again, throwing hisexplosive fastball, getting them to chase breaking pitches and then flippingtwo-strike curveballs on the outer fringe.

The Giants tried. They kept stepping out of the box. Twice,they called timeout when McDonald was on the verge of kicking into hisdelivery. They got a timing disruption from above, too, in the form of a28-minute rain delay.

It didnt work. None of it worked. McDonald was just thatgood, and Ryan Vogelsong was just a bit less so in a 3-1 loss at AT&T Park.

Much has been made of the Giants performance againstfirst-place teams. They lost two of three to the Rangers and the Angels. Theysplit four with the Reds. The NL-leading Washington Nationals just swept them.Now theyre even in two games against the surprising NL-Central-leadingPirates.

But it might be more instructive to look at what the Giantshave done against top pitchers. In previous seasons, when their offense was atrue collection of duds, the Giants would get exposed almost every time theyran up against a stud pitcher.

Their record is a little better now. Theyve beaten ClaytonKershaw twice. They scored five runs when NL ERA leader Johnny Cueto startedagainst them. They even beat McDonald in April behind Matt Cains one-hitshutout.

But there are also the Latoses and Jered Weavers of theworld. And there was McDonald on Saturday, making the entire Giants lineup looklike a beer-league unit. Brandon Belt and Sandoval come to mind, but BusterPosey had just as tough a time. It made Ryan Theriots two-strike, two-out RBIsingle in the sixth all the more impressive an at-bat.

Great at-bat, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. He reallycompetes well and grinds out every at-bat. Those things help you winballgames.

The Giants needed a few more of them. Blanco certainly triedafter striking out in his first two at-bats. He lined a single in the sixth andalso contributed a bunt hit in the ninth. There was that sliding catch thatBlanco contributed in right field, too.

It was a nice game for the leadoff man, who has looked worndown in recent weeks. He had a .401 on-base percentage through the end of May butentered Saturday with just a .274 OBP in 31 games since June 1.

He acknowledged the All-Star break would come at a goodtime.

For sure, I want to get back on track and play like I wasplaying a few months ago, he said. I know I can and I will. Im working hardto start doing it again.

I know physically Im a little tired. But in this game, youhave to have the mentality to play hard and work harder.

Against McDonald, effort didnt seem to matter.

Sneaky fastball, and the breaking pitches we keptswinging at them and he kept throwing it, Blanco said. It was really hard tolay off, and his fastball is explosive. He did a great job and we didnt takeadvantage by laying off those breaking pitches to swing at a better pitch.

One more thing, Blanco said:

"I made an adjustment on him. If we face him next time, Ithink its going to be different.

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.