Giants

New-look outfield does it all as Giants win for 11th time in 13 games

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USATSI

New-look outfield does it all as Giants win for 11th time in 13 games

DENVER -- After he finished his daily session with the media on Tuesday afternoon, Giants manager Bruce Bochy sat against the wall in the dugout and spent a silent moment looking out at the grass at Coors Field. 

"It's amazing how big the outfield here is," Bochy finally said.

The manager admitted that sometimes he stands on the top step, looks out at the alleys that go 375 feet and 390, and the center field wall 415 feet away, and marvels at how much space there is to cover. 

In down times, the Giants haven't been able to do it. Those alleys paved the way for one Rockies win after another the previous two seasons as the Giants' aging outfield looked overwhelmed. But this is a different time for Giants outfielders, defensively and at the plate.

Kevin Pillar had his second consecutive brilliant defensive effort in center and the two fellow newcomers flanking him, Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski, paced a lineup that made up for Will Smith's blown save and ran away from the Rockies in the 10th for an 8-4 win, the 11th in 13 games. 

Dickerson had a career-high four hits to raise his average to .342. Yastrzemski had three hits and a big homer in the ninth. But it was Pillar who made the biggest contributions. He has a half-dozen diving catches in this series, repeatedly halting Rockies rallies. Pillar made three tremendous plays in center on Tuesday night alone. 

"It's like nothing I've ever seen," Dickerson said. "Every ball, if there's even a question, he's diving and he's got it. It's like nothing I've ever seen."

Pillar backed Drew Pomeranz's strong effort, and once again the lineup came through. Dickerson and Yastrzemski were in the middle of a two-run rally in the second and Dickerson's single gave the Giants an insurance run in the eighth. Yastrzemski added another with a homer in the ninth, but Smith couldn't hold on. 

The All-Star closer allowed just eight runs in the first half but gave up three in the ninth inning, with Trevor Story and Ian Desmond going deep. But the Giants stormed right back for four in the 10th.

"A lot of character was shown there with what happened in the ninth," Bochy said. "Smitty has been so good but it can happen fast in this ballpark. The boys just kept battling. That's what you've got to do."

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Dickerson made it all sound so easy as he went over the rally, which started with walks from Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval and took off with three straight singles from Dickerson, Brandon Crawford and Yastrzemski. 

"We weren't going to shy away from it," Dickerson said. "We still had that game under control. I think you saw it, that's as focused an inning as you can have."

Giants rookie Tyler Rogers opening eyes with unique submarine slider

Giants rookie Tyler Rogers opening eyes with unique submarine slider

Only jury duty kept Giants pitching coach Curt Young from putting together a summit of submariners this month. Young was with the A's when Chad Bradford dominated hitters with his unique approach, and he hoped to put Bradford in a room with Giants rookie Tyler Rogers.

"He got called in for jury duty," a smiling Young said of Bradford. "But we'll make it happen at some point."

With the way Rogers is pitching, there's no real rush. Nobody is taking greater advantage of a September opportunity than Rogers, a submarining right-hander who has a 1.54 ERA in 12 appearances and has allowed just seven hits. Rogers provides a look that's not seen anywhere else in the majors, and big leaguers haven't adjusted yet.

With every bewildered stare back at the mound, Rogers gets closer to putting himself in position for a bullpen job in 2020. 

"The results kind of speak for themselves so far. I've been able to execute pitches," Rogers said. "Between the two levels, that hasn't changed. If you execute the pitch, more times than not you're going to be successful. And if you don't, you know, they're going to hurt you."

There's been very little pain thus far, particularly on a slider that's become a put-away pitch for Rogers and has fascinated teammates and fans. Because of where Rogers releases the ball -- he's dead last in the majors with a release point of just 1.05 feet above the dirt -- the slider often appears to be rising the entire way to the catcher's glove. It floats into the strike zone and elicits ugly swings. 

"Absolutely, it almost rises even for the catcher," said Aramis Garcia, who caught Rogers in Triple-A. "Depending on how he throws it, if it's high or in the middle of the zone, it gets really good rise. Guys in the batter's box say it all the time. They hate seeing that slider after the fastball."

Rogers' slider isn't a high-spin pitch. At 2,279 RPM, it has one of the lowest spin rates on the Giants' staff, but the results thus far have been impressive. Rogers has thrown the pitch 36 times and allowed just one hit, a single. Seven of his eight strikeouts have come on the slider and it's being hit an average of just 79 mph when put into play. 

The funny thing about the pitch for Rogers is that it didn't even use to be in his repertoire. As a freshman at Austin Peay, he threw exclusively fastballs. 

"I just couldn't figure (the slider) out and it still takes a lot of tinkering in practice," Rogers said. "That pitch has definitely evolved a lot over the years. Now I just kind of let it do what it wants that day. It's not the same day to day. Some days I can really cut it loose and give it what I've got and other days I've got to be a little more about finesse with it."

The pitch, which Rogers throws off of his low 80s sinker, helped him put up eye-popping numbers during a curiously long stay in Triple-A. Rogers had a 3.27 ERA in 179 career appearances in a tough league for pitchers, but the Giants didn't take a look until this September, the end of his fourth season in Sacramento. 

Teammates who were there the day Rogers got called up say the eruption from the clubhouse was as loud as they could remember. They were curious to see how Rogers' delivery would work against big league hitters, and so far the results have helped Rogers grab a more high-leverage role in a shifting bullpen.

That doesn't surprise Garcia, who actually might have learned more about Rogers' slider when an opposing hitter had success against it. Garcia often played first base in Sacramento and said even a hitter who reached would come away grumbling. 

[RELATED: Sacramento River Cats win Triple-A National Championship]

"There were a lot of times where a guy would get to first base and all he would be talking about is how much he hates facing him," Garcia said. 

Big league hitters apparently feel the same way. 

Giants affiliate Sacramento River Cats win Triple-A National Championship

Giants affiliate Sacramento River Cats win Triple-A National Championship

While the Giants were busy breaking a record and beating the Red Sox 7-6 in 15 innings on Tuesday night, their Triple-A affiliate was winning another title. 

The Sacramento River Cats already took home the crown of Pacific Coast League champions this season. Now, they can add an even bigger trophy to their mantle. 

Instead of a series, one game decides who is the king of Triple-A baseball. That title now belongs to the River Cats after they beat the Columbus Clippers, 4-0, in the Triple-A National Championship. 

Sacramento became the first franchise to have three Triple-A National Championship titles. It's the first time the River Cats have done so as an affiliate of the Giants. 

“It feels great,” Brundage said to the Sacramento Bee's Joe Davidson after the win. “They played their hearts out.”

Brundage deserves all the credit in the world for the title. This season was a marathon, to the say the least, for him and his entire staff. The River Cats played 146 games and dealt with 319 player transactions. 

That's right, 319. 

In a world where Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is willing to make any move and use a player's minor league options, the River Cats will have to deal with plenty of changes to their roster as long he's in charge. Caleb Baragar, the game's winning pitcher, is a prime example. 

When the Richmond Flying Squirrels -- the Giants' Double-A affiliate -- saw their season end without a trip to the playoffs, Baragar thought he could finally take break. Wrong. Baragar was added to the River Cats' roster for the playoffs and ended up being a hero. 

The 25-year-old right-hander pitched five shutout innings Tuesday night while allowing just two hits and striking out five batters. He was named MVP of the game for his valiant effort.

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"I saw a young man who wasn’t scared,” Brundage said to Baseball America. "Sometimes you’re not sure. Is the moment too big? The moment wasn’t too big against Vegas. He was even better tonight.”

In a year of constant shuffle for San Francisco and Sacramento alike, the River Cats came out on top with a ring. The Giants hope they too can soon do the same.