Giants mix luck with toughness to sweep Astros


Giants mix luck with toughness to sweep Astros


HOUSTON No escaping it: The Giants got a bit lucky in thisseries at Minute Maid Park. They needed to engineer two come-from-behind escapesto accomplish a three-game sweep. Both times, their go-ahead hits werebroken-bat bloops.

And they needed to erase a four-run deficit behind RyanVogelsong to complete their biggest comeback of the season in Thursday nights8-4 victory over the Houston Astros.

But hey, its better to be lucky than on pace to lose 112games.

A great comeback a couple great comebacks here, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy said. They played us tough and were glad to get out ofhere winning all three. Were battling hard. They kept pushing and Vogey helpedhimself.

Eight different players scored the Giants eight runs, whichneatly sums up the collaborative thrust of this comeback.

But the rally truly started in the fifth when Vogelsongslug-bunted the Giants into position for a big score. Bochy had to let theright-hander hit because he used six relievers the previous night, but he didntwant to give away an out with a 4-0 deficit.

So Vogelsong squared, then pulled the bat back.

He can handle the bat, said Bochy, of Vogelsongs grounderthrough the newly vacated hole on the left side. And it makes it easier whenthe pitcher gets behind.

Vogelsong wasnt surprised to see the sign once the countreached 1-0. In fact, he was glad to get another shot to swing the bat, sincehis lineout with the bases loaded in the second inning was probably thehardest I hit a ball all year.

The gambit led to a three-run inning that cut the Astros' lead to 4-3, and as Vogelsong said, "When we cut it to one, I had a good feeling we were going to put some more runs up."

As for the way he settled down on the mound? Vogelsongcouldnt take much credit for that.

I was just trying to find myself, really, said Vogelsong,who certainly has hit a snag over his last six starts in what had been aseamless season. I was grinding tonight, I really was. I was trying everythingto get myself right. It would work for a couple pitches, and then it went away.

It came down, really, to throwing it over the plate andseeing what happened.

So a little luck was required there, too.

But throw in a bit of belief and toughness as well.

He left the ball up and they took advantage, but you knowwhat? He kept grinding, Bochy said. Its a gritty, gutty effort. He knew weneeded innings and he kept going and going and he got a win out of it. It showsyou how tough he is.

The Giants will have to be resilient again very, very soon.They had barely 13 hours to bus to the airport, fly nearly 1,000 miles, bus totheir hotel, pretend to fall asleep for a few hours and then get on the bus forday baseball at Wrigley Field.

By the time the Giants finish this weekend series inChicago, they will have played 12 of 16 on the road. Oh yeah, and theyll havea fourth consecutive day game on Monday a Labor Day matinee at AT&T Park.

Bochy said Buster Posey likely would get the day off Fridaybecause his ankle got a little cranky Thursday night after three games on thehard surface in Houston.

He said he felt like he was catching on concrete, Bochysaid.

But Bochy plans to find a place for Joaquin Arias, whoentered as a pinch hitter and raised his average to .429 in August with a homerun off a right-hander, no less.

Weve got to go with the hot hand, Bochy said.

Hopefully all hands will be alert enough for a "strap it on" game.

Its a tough schedule, Bochy said. Its a tough group.Theyll be ready to go.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'


Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."