Giants establish winning pattern, sweep Cubs


Giants establish winning pattern, sweep Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO Ryan Vogelsong woke up with a worried mindMonday morning.

Three guys pitched into the ninth? Thats a little pressureto follow, the All-Star right-hander said.

But Vogelsong followed suit, and the Giants finally timedtheir trump card to sweep a series and complete what could become aseason-defining homestand.

Their 3-2 victory over the distracted, defeated Chicago Cubsgave them six wins in seven games at AT&T Park and the Giants did it byestablishing the exact paradigm that they envisioned.

RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- Giants 3, Cubs 2

Pitching. Defense. More pitching. Timely hits. Goodbaserunning. And Tony Bennett.

The Giants were 12-10 at AT&T Park before this homestandbegan, and they trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers by 7 games in the NL West.They are now back to their winning ways at Third and King and they are within2 games as their archrivals prepare to take the field Monday night.

In completing their first sweep of the season (a four-gamer, no less), the Giants' rotation was brilliant. The starting pitcherscombined for a 1.55 ERA while completing seven innings and giving up fewer thantwo runs in all seven games. Its just the second time in San Franciscofranchise history the club has received seven consecutive starts of that ilk.They had a run of nine in a row in 1988-- from Don Robinson, Mike LaCoss (twice), Kelly Downs (twice), Atlee Hammaker,Terry Mulholland (twice) and Rick Reuschel.

Its hard to beat that, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Said catcher Buster Posey: To me, I feel like theyve beendoing it all year a couple years since Ive been here, really.

The difference this time? The Giants played errorless ballin their six victories. They committed just one error on the entire homestand.And thats after leading the majors in miscues for most of the season.

Not only are the fielders playing clean games, they also aremaking plays to pick up the pitching staff. Witness Ryan Theriots highlightsweep-and-grab play on Starlin Castro to keep the tiebreaking run from scoringin the seventh inning. The play ended Vogelsongs afternoon, and the Giantsmade a winner of him when Posey who walked four times -- scored in the bottomof the seventh.

I gave him a big hug after that one, Vogelsong said of Theriot.Its pretty amazing. You dont see a guy sweep at it like that and have it popup. Its a pretty athletic play to barehand it and throw in one motion.

That play probably saved the game for us.

Said Theriot: I was hoping it was in my glove. My hand wasnumb, it was hit so hard. It was in my glove briefly, and luckily, it came upright in front of me.

The Giants are playing crisper and smarter than theircompetition, although against the Cubs, thats like matching wits against theguy from Sling Blade. (Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro probably wont enjoy theflight back to the Midwest after losing track of the outs while the Giants tiedthe score on a fielders choice in the fifth inning.)

They are even finding ways to time their contributions,whether its the offense sneaking out runs despite a total power outage (onehomer in their last 19 home games seriously) or the bullpen finding ways topiece together the ninth despite a rash of injuries, or the starters workingdeep to give the bullpen a break.

It was Jeremy Affeldts turn on Monday. With SantiagoCasilla unavailable because of a bruised knee and Sergio Romo also questionablebecause of a knee issue, Affeldt pitched the final two innings without allowinga baserunner to pick up the save.

We have a bullpen who can do it, are able to do it and havethe stuff to do it, Affeldt said. Obviously, were getting it done so itseasy to say that.

They are getting the rest to do it, too. The bullpen onlyneeded to throw 10 23 innings out of 64 on the homestand. Thats fewer thanfive outs per game. And Affeldt said the relievers needed the break, after beinggassed when the club finished a stretch of 20 games in 20 days last Sunday.

The only thing the Giants lacked on the homestand was a goodol blowout victory to rest a few starters like Angel Pagan or Melky Cabrera.The aggregate score over the seven games was 19-13.

No surprise, really, since the Giants havent found anextension cord at AT&T Park. They have played 13 consecutive home gameswithout going deep the second longest in San Francisco-era franchise history(behind a 15-game streak in 1980) and the longest by a major league team sincethe Dodgers had a 14-game power outage at home in 1992.

Is it really sustainable? Can the Giants keep winning withRBI ground outs and a string of singles?

Well, weve done it, Bochy said. Not quite lacking thepower like we are right now. But when you have an added dimension like speed,thats going to show up every day.

The home runs are nice and I think we will hit more. I do.Were in a rut now but Pablo (Sandoval) will be coming back soon.

For now, were going with defense. Any time you win theseone-run games, its pitching and defense. Really, thats what is doing it.

What, should Vogelsong worry?

Weve talked about it, he said. You have to learn how towin and I think were starting to do that.

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.