Instant Replay: Giants 5, Braves 2


Instant Replay: Giants 5, Braves 2


SAN FRANCISCO Barry Zito fell short of his second shutout of the season and the Giants capitalized on some sloppy Atlanta defense to beat the Braves 5-2 in the first of four games between the 2010 National League Division Series opponents at AT&T Park.Starting pitching report Whenever Barry Zito starts his outing with a walk, a smattering of boos can be heard at AT&T Park because its a familiarly hopeless feeling. Zito did just that Thursday, but benefitted from some solid defense behind him before getting into a rhythm and cruising until back-to-back singles leading off the ninth forced him from the game.After Michael Bourn trotted to first thanks to four straight balls from Zito to open the game, the Braves looked poised to pounce for a first-inning run against Zito, who is 8-3 this season when holding the opposition scoreless in the opening frame. Hes 1-5 on the campaign when allowing a first-inning run. Zito bobbled Reed Johnsons comebacker to make a double-play impossible, but recovered to get the out at first, then watched as Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt combined on a great play behind him. Zito proceeded to walk Chipper Jones, who is making his final regular-season visit to AT&T Park, but struck out Freddie Freeman to escape unscathed.The second inning started even worse for Zito, as Dan Uggla and Brian McCann put together back-to-back singles. After both runners advanced on a groundout, Zito stabbed Tommy Hansons comebacker and caught Uggla off the third-base bag, where Sandoval received Zitos throw and applied the tag. Zito got Bourn to fly out to left to keep the Braves off the board again.Following the back-to-back singles in the second, Zito went on a roll. He retired 11 of his next 12 batters through the top of the fifth inning and 20 of his next 22 through the top of the eighth.Having thrown 108 pitches through eight innings, Zito came back out for the ninth to go for his second shutout of the season and sixth of his career. He fell short, however, allowing back-to-back singles to open the inning before giving way to Jeremy Affeldt.Zito allowed five hits in his eight-plus innings of work, which included five strikeouts, three walks, and 113 pitches, 68 of which were strikes. It was the third outing of the season in which Zito worked at least eight innings. He allowed no runs while on the mound in those three starts, though two of his runners came around to score on Thursday.Bullpen report
Bruce Bochy brought Jeremy Affeldt in to relieve Zito and promptly gave up a frozen rope double to Freddie Freeman as the Braves cut the Giants lead to 5-2. After Affeldt walked Dan Uggla to bring the tying run to the plate in Brian McCann, Bochy went with another lefty in Javier Lopez, who promptly struck out McCann looking.The closer-by-committee is in full effect, as Bochy turned to Sergio Romo for the final out. Original left-handed pinch-hitter David Ross was called back and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez went with Jason Heyward instead. Heyward grounded the second pitch of the at-bat to second base, but beat out the relay throw to avoid a game-ending double play. Romo stayed in to face another lefty in Juan Francisco, who grounded out to Pablo Sandoval at third to end the game.At the plate
Angel Pagan had seven hits in the sweep of the Dodgers, leading off every game with a hit. That streak lives after he singled to lead off the bottom of the first. He advanced to second on an off-target pickoff throw by Tommy Hanson, but was left stranded when Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence went down in order.Hector Sanchez broke a 10 at-bat hitless streak with a one-out double in the second inning, but like Pagan he was left stranded.Pagan set the table again in the third with a one-out walk, then stole second base. This time, however, he was not left stranded, thanks to a two-out single from Pablo Sandoval on a hanging breaking ball at his eyes. Sandoval drove the pitch the other way to left field and Pagan slid just ahead of Brian McCanns tag for the games first run.The Giants stranded two more baserunners in the fifth inning and were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position at that point, but broke the game wide open in the fifth.Pagan was the rally-starter once again, as he drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on Scutaros single. After an ugly at-bat from Sandoval resulting in a swinging strikeout, Pence placed a perfect bunt between first and second behind the pitchers mound to plate Pagan. First baseman Freddie Freeman made the inning turn from bad to worse for the Braves, as he booted Brandon Belts grounder and was charged with a run-scoring error. Sanchez, starting in place of the injured Buster Posey, followed with his second double of the game, down the first-base line past Freeman, to score Pence and Belt giving the Giants a 5-0 lead.The Giants were quiet with the bats the rest of the way, but that would be all that was necessary for Barry Zito, who expanded his team lead in sacrifices with his eighth on a bunt in the eighth inning.In field Pablo Sandoval helped Barry Zito work around a leadoff walk in the first inning with a sliding stop of Martin Prados sharp ground ball. After getting his glove on the ball, Sandoval threw low to first, where Brandon Belt scooped the one-hop throw. The play was eerily similar to one Sandoval and Belt teamed up for in the series finale in Los Angeles.Zito bailed himself out of a jam with a wise play on a comebacker from pitcher Tommy Hanson. With Dan Uggla at third and Brian McCann at first following back-to-back singles to open the frame, Zito stabbed Hansons ball and caught Uggla leaning by throwing back to Sandoval covering third.On the bases The threat of Angel Pagans speed led to an errant pick-off throw in the first. He was left stranded that inning, but came back after a one-out walk in the third to steal his 21st base of the season and came around to score the first run of the game.Brandon Belt followed up his fourth-inning single with his 10th steal of the season. Hes only been caught once so far.Attendance
The Giants announced their 146th consecutive sellout with a paid crowd of 41,645 fans. One of those fans was selected for the mid-inning bat-spin home run derby game and, before winning, went headfirst into a fence in a spell of dizziness.Up next The Giants continue their four-game series with the Braves in a Friday night game that will pit Ryan Vogelsong (10-7, 2.85 ERA) vs. Ben Sheets (4-3, 3.07 ERA). Vogelsongs only career start against Atlanta came earlier this season on July 18, when he allowed one run in six innings, but was left with a no decision in the Giants wild 9-4 extra-innings win.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far


Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.