Instant Replay: Giants drop Game 1 of NLDS on Baez's eighth-inning blast

Instant Replay: Giants drop Game 1 of NLDS on Baez's eighth-inning blast


CHICAGO — The Giants were right to think their rotation could go neck-and-neck with Chicago’s in the National League Division Series. They still have not figured out, however, how to be the team that gets the big hit at Wrigley Field. 

Johnny Cueto and Jon Lester were brilliant in Game 1 of the NLDS, but Cueto made a mistake in the eighth and his shot at a victory drifted away, out past the shaking bleachers. Javier Baez hit a poorly located fastball in the eighth, providing the only offense in a 1-0 game with a solo shot. 

Cueto gave up just three hits, two fewer than Lester, who matched his eight innings. Aroldis Chapman was the only other pitcher to take the mound, and he worked past a two-out double by Buster Posey to give the Cubs the series lead. 

The city of Chicago waited all season for this night, but Cueto took the air out of Wrigley Field early, retiring the first 10 hitters he faced. He got some help from two players — Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson — in the lineup to provide right-handed bats against Lester. Hernandez robbed David Ross of extra bases in the third. Kris Bryant snapped the perfect game with a hard double to left in the fourth inning, but Tomlinson made a diving stop to prevent an RBI single from Ben Zobrist. 

On the other side, the Giants put the leadoff runner on in each of the first three innings against Lester. Hernandez led off the first with a bunt single and sped off two pitches later, trying to take advantage of Lester, who doesn’t hold runners well. David Ross made a perfect throw to second for the out. Two innings later, the Giants lost another baserunner on a bizarre play.

Conor Gillaspie led off the third with a single and first baseman Anthony Rizzo walked toward the dugout to get a new glove. Rizzo then stood alongside Lester as second baseman Javier Baez shifted over to hold Gillaspie on at first. The Giants surely thought Rizzo was preparing to field a bunt. Instead, the Cubs called a pitchout and Ross nabbed Gillaspie with a backdoor throw to Baez. The Giants put runners on second and third with two down in the fourth, but Brandon Crawford grounded out. 

Lester and Cueto, who finished second and fifth, respectively, in the National League in ERA, charged into the night. Lester was perfect in the middle innings, getting through seven on just 79 pitches. Cueto struck out the side in the sixth and finished the seventh at 99 pitches. He got an assist from bench coach Ron Wotus — who positions the infielders — and Tomlinson, who made a diving stop in shallow right to prevent a leadoff single. 

Cueto looked poised to match Lester’s eight innings, but Cueto grooved a fastball to Baez with one out in the eighth and paid for it. Baez crushed a moonshot that dropped right into the basket that separates the field from the bleachers. Angel Pagan made it to the ivy and jumped, but the ball was inches out of reach. As Baez flipped his bat, Cueto dropped his head back in despair, knowing the Giants did not have a ninth-inning comeback victory all season long. 

In five games at Wrigley Field over the past five weeks, the Giants have just 20 hits. 

Giants release Cameron Maybin after disappointing spring training

Giants release Cameron Maybin after disappointing spring training

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants hoped Cameron Maybin could fill some holes on their bench. It wasn’t happening, and on Friday, Maybin was released.

The veteran signed a minor league deal after camp had already started but hit just .163 in Cactus League play with no homers. Maybin also got a DUI midway through camp, and while team officials said that wouldn’t knock him out of the competition, it surely didn’t help his cause. 

A couple of weeks ago, Maybin was set to be the fourth outfielder. But the front office has been disappointed by the competition and continues to look for alternatives. Connor Joe, a Rule 5 pick acquired Thursday, would be on the roster if the season started today, per a source, and he can play a corner outfield spots. Yangervis Solarte also has been playing some left field.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi continues to talk to other teams about outfielders who might become available before Opening Day. The Giants recently added Matt Joyce, too, but they are short on right-handed options and outfielders who can back up Steven Duggar in center. 

In that respect, it is notable that Henry Ramos is still in camp. At the moment, Gerardo Parra would be the next best choice in center if Duggar needed a day off.

Giants confident massive new scoreboard will be ready for Opening Day

Alex Pavlovic

Giants confident massive new scoreboard will be ready for Opening Day

SAN FRANCISCO -- When members of the local media were let into Oracle Park on Friday to see upgrades, it was easy to be concerned about the scoreboard. The new version appears nowhere close to done, but the Giants are quickly making progress, and in the few minutes it took three team executives to brief the media on the ballpark, one percent of the scoreboard panels got completed. 

Bill Schlough, the team's Chief Information Officer, said there are no concerns about Opening Day. The $10 million Diamond Vision board will be fully operational by April 5, when the team returns home to host the Tampa Bay Rays. Schlough said the scoreboard will be more than two-thirds finished by Monday's exhibition game against the A's, and since the Giants have been testing it as they install rows, they will be able to use the completed portion Monday. 

Even that will represent a significant upgrade. The new scoreboard will be the first 4K version in the majors, and will be 153 feet wide and 70 feet high. It is more than three times the size of the previous one, with twice the resolution. 

Here are some other new things you'll see during the 2019 season ... 

--- There are two new high-profile gathering areas at the ballpark, The Cloud Club and The Waterfront. The Cloud Club is a lounge that replaced six existing suites on the suite level and features a bar, lounge seating and different views of the ballpark and bay. The Waterfront takes over for the last few rows of bleachers under the scoreboard, and has a premium bar with a great view of the bay. It will be completed after the other additions because the Giants can't really work on it while the scoreboard is being installed. 

The Field Club behind home plate was also fully remodeled. This is all the first step in a five-year plan to improve the park.  

--- The Oracle Park signage is up already.

--- On Opening Day, the Giants will start a season-long celebration of manager Bruce Bochy. They also will pay tribute to Hank Greenwald, Frank Robinson, Peter Magowan and Willie McCovey, all of whom passed away during the offseason. There will be a No. 44 patch on the jerseys, along with one honoring Magowan. 

The team also will honor first responders to the California wildfires. 

--- The Giants already have sold $2.1 million in tickets. They reduced their season ticket base from 30,500 to 26,000, which is still the second-highest in the majors. This was presented as something that will be beneficial to current season ticket holders looking to sell individual game tickets, but there's no hiding the fact that the team simply has lost a lot of season ticket holders over the previous two seasons. At one point, there was a long waiting list to get a season ticket.

If the season goes the way the last two did, expect some announced crowds under 30,000. That season ticket base always set a high baseline. 

--- This was announced previously, but the ballpark will exclusively take mobile tickets this season. You can no longer print them out at home, although the Giants will print them for you if you want to do that once you're at Third and King. 

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--- On to the important stuff: The Giants will hand out Kruk and Kuip gnomes and a Let Pablo Pitch bobblehead.

Also, the Bruce Bochy giveaway on Game of Thrones Night (May 20) is the best thing they've handed out in a long, long time.