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Urban: Without pressure, Giants are flourishing

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Urban: Without pressure, Giants are flourishing

Sept. 16, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

Pretty amazing what the absence of pressure can do for a team, isn't it?The Giants made it six wins in a row Friday night with another victory in Colorado, and it might have been the most stress-free triumph of the season.After four taut frames, Brandon Belt broke things up with a two-run homer that surely left him wondering what life might be like playing 81 games a year at altitude, and Madison Bumgarner pretty much took it from there.The rest of the Giants' offense followed Belt's lead, piling on as any wise Coors Field foe knows is necessary, and Bumgarner continued to confound. How a kid that young, with that heavy a workload over the past two seasons, can keep getting better and stronger as the season wears on is simply mind-boggling.It all added up to a win that, coupled with the Braves' loss, trimmed San Francisco's deficit in the National League wild-card race to five games with 11 games to play.
RECAP: Bumgarner, Stewart propel Giants past Rockies 9-1
Insurmountable? No. Baseball's a crazy game.Daunting? Totally. It'll take a fairly epic collapse by Atlanta, a similarly spectacular slide by St. Louis, and eight or nine more wins by the Giants for any of this to mean anything of consequence.But who cares at this point? It's been a week or so since most realistic fans have come to grips with the defending champions going home before October opens, and what's happening right now sure beats the heck out of watching a series of 2-1, or 3-2, or 1-0 reminders of what went wrong -- even if those scores were in San Francisco's favor.The absence of pressure brings home runs off the bat of Chris Stewart. It brings Brandon Crawford in the starting lineup. It brings Barry Zito out of the bullpen for the ninth inning, of all things, and if that's not a strange sight to you, spare us the details of your night life. We don't want to know.Playoffs? Stop it. Not gonna happen.That doesn't mean, however, that you can't savor every last second of the 2011 season. Your boys are the champions of the world for 11 more games -- heck, they're the champs until somebody dogpiles in the middle of a diamond somewhere late next month -- and they're winning games again. It could be a heck of a lot worse. You've seen it a lot worse. So just sit back and enjoy the release of pressure while you can.

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

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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

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USATSI

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.