For the Giants, winning requires losing


For the Giants, winning requires losing

The Giants first seventh game in 50 years wasnt a game at all, but a high-speed parade with bits of debris stuck in the grill work. It was also a tribute to Indonesia during the monsoons, but that was just something for the tourists and the TV folks.And something to scare Giants trainer Dave Groeschner.Im out there scared to death about the mound, that one of our pitchers is going to slip and hurt his arm or something, he said. But I knew the umpires werent going to stop it, and besides, why would we do anything easy?Well, there is that. Even in the final few flooded moments of their 9-0 victory over St. Louis and the propulsion into their second World Series in three years, they couldnt back in. They had to do a little more stunt work first.Hunter Pence hit a three-run double up the middle, three times in one swing. Marco Scutaro sno-coned the final popup. Matt Cain struggled with the strike zone before subduing it, with an RBI single as an exclamation point. And on and on and on into that sodden happy night.BAGGARLY: The Giants win the pennantAnd in 43 hours, they would have to do it all again, and even weirder, against the Detroit Tigers. They do so soaking wet and scorching hot. Comfortable and balancing on a hot knife-edge. And looking for one more way to scare themselves to death, as they have all year.The Giants have embraced this postseason while wearing a damp dynamite overcoat.They didnt overcome adversity as much as they kicked it in the throat. They didnt overcome the threat of elimination as much as they wore it like a shiny orange fez.The Giants, in short, are the 2010 team, only with a death-cheaters swagger they couldnt even pretend to attempt two years ago.And to play this out to the end, they will require one demonstration of proof against the Tigers. After winning their sixth elimination game in 13 days, winning the World Series apparently will require that they lose the first two games of the series.And no, this isnt the third bottle of Tractor Shed Red talking, or the lead paint inhalation problem acting up. This is now what they do.In laying out the Cardinals in such perfectly bizarre fashion, the Giants have made claim to the elimination game as their chosen idiom. With the dark hand of Uncle Death ready to clutch their very throats (or something like that), they outscored the Cardinals, 20-1. And in defying logic, they have refashioned it for themselves.So now you see how the Series has to play out for them to get maximum value. They have to lose Game 1 to Justin Verlander in a 60-mph wind, and Game 2 to Max Scherzer in an unplayable fog. And both games must feature systematically starved seagulls who view the players as grub on the hoof.RELATED: VERLANDER STATSIt isnt the only way to win the Series, and by most analytics it is a stupid way to do it. But it is the way the Giants seem to like it best these days. Its like when we won (Game 5) in St. Louis (behind Zito), Scutaro said while cradling his LCS MVP trophy. It just seemed like the ball started bouncing our way.And when Game 7 came along, the Giants had their best pitcher, the redoubtable Cain.Hey, hes the guy Id want out there, Game 6 winner Ryan Vogelsong said. I think it started with Barry, but it ended with the right guy.Tales will be told of the extraordinary alchemy Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean affected to make this team . . . well, this team. Brian Wilson became Santiago Casilla who became Sergio Romo, the guy who ended it. Tim Lincecum became Vogelsong. Freddy Sanchez became Ryan Theriot who became Scutaro. Carlos Beltran became Melky Cabrera who became Pence. Orlando Cabrera became Brandon Crawford. Madison Bumgarner became Zito. Pablo Sandoval became a much better Sandoval. Brandon Belt, who homered the last run of the series over the steam cannons in right, became a more reliable Brandon Belt.And Cain pretty much stayed the same.Not all these changes worked out ideally, but the Giants arent an ideal team. They have flaws. They are, however, indigestible. The more you tenderize them, the tougher they are to swallow.This strangely zen approach to the task of winning baseball games makes them hard to figure in the Series, even against a Detroit team that had the seventh best record in the American League. And to be sure, this is Detroit team with its own advantages. Verlander comes about as close as a pitcher can come these days to putting the other team two games in the hole. He beat Oakland twice, crushed New York in Game 3 of the ALCS sweep, and is aligned to start Game 1 against the Unsinkable Molly Brown . . . err, Zito.SPOTLIGHT: The Detroit Tigers
So assuming Verlander is Verlander, and as such the best pitcher the Giants have faced since The Disappearing Steven Strasburg subdued them August 15, the Giants may well have to figure out how to win four out of the other five games to reprise their World Series of two years ago.And if that seems unduly pessimistic at a time like this, you may blame them. They choreographed their postseason for maximum shock value. They juggle cleavers. They saw themselves in half. They scare the audience without scaring themselves. They wait until only the foolhardy proceed, and then they break into a dead sprint. This is what they do now. This is who they are.The conditions be damned.

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.