NL All-Star voting: No Giants starters, Cubs dominating


NL All-Star voting: No Giants starters, Cubs dominating

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have been the hottest team in the National League over the past month, but the All-Star Game in San Diego may start without them.

There are no Giants in position to start in the latest voting results released Wednesday morning. Buster Posey is the closest, but he trails Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina by 75,000 votes.

Five Cubs are in line to start the game, held next month at Petco Park, including Anthony Rizzo, who has about 1.4 million votes more than runner-up Brandon Belt. Joe Panik is third at second base and Brandon Crawford and Matt Duffy are fourth at their respective positions.

If the voting ended today, Molina, Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler, Bryce Harper and Yoenis Cespedes would be the starters. Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto will certainly be in consideration to throw the first pitch, along with Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta (another Cub), Stephen Strasburg and Noah Syndergaard, whose manager, Terry Collins, will make that decision. 

Again faced with extras, Sam Coonrod and relievers make it look easy


Again faced with extras, Sam Coonrod and relievers make it look easy

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Sam Coonrod jogged to the mound for his fifth big league appearance, one that very likely was the most high-stress outing of his life, Javier Baez inched closer to the plate. Kris Bryant stepped into the on-deck circle. Anthony Rizzo grabbed his bat and climbed the steps of the dugout. 

That's about as imposing as it gets in the National League. And Coonrod didn't care one bit. 

"I tried not to worry about that," the Giants' rookie right-hander said quietly a few minutes later. "I try not to pay attention to it."

Coonrod's journey to the big leagues has been a long one, and at times it has been stalled by injuries, including Tommy John surgery just as he seemed ready to break through. But along the way he has learned a few important things. Ryan Vogelsong, now an instructor in the organization, taught Coonrod to focus on his catcher, not the guys in the opposing lineup. Someone at some point -- possibly many someones -- taught Coonrod to come up and simply trust Buster Posey.

"Buster knows a lot better than I know," Coonrod said.

Posey put the signs down and Coonrod opened eyes while obeying. He struck out Baez on a 97 mph fastball, got Bryant swinging through 99 mph, and induced a harmless grounder from Rizzo. When Pablo Sandoval went deep in the bottom of the 13th, Coonrod had his first big league win, one that filled him with raw emotions that were still evident after the win. 

The win was the 17th in 20 games, and the bullpen has carried the heaviest load in recent days. The Giants have won in extra-innings five times in the last eight games. They have played 15 extra frames on this homestand alone, and it's a daily shuffle to find fresh arms. 

Will Smith couldn't be used Monday. Sam Dyson and Trevor Gott were in that situation Tuesday. So Smith threw two innings and Mark Melancon threw two more. Coonrod was going to go a second inning and then turn the ball over to Drew Pomeranz, who aired it out in two innings Monday. Bochy really, really did not want to use Pomeranz, and he didn't have to. Coonrod made it look easy. 

"He was good, wasn't he?" Bochy said. "He was really good. In that situation, high-leverage, and the way he handled himself -- the stuff he had was really impressive. You look at what this young kid did. That's the first time he's been in that situation."

This type of usage will not be sustainable for the Giants, especially if they deal from that bullpen depth. That remains an open question before next week's deadline, but for now the relievers aren't focused on who might go. They show up every day, play catch, take inventory of what hurts, and put up zeros until a hitter can send everyone home. 

"It's incredible," Madison Bumgarner said. "We've got a lot of good arms to throw at you and put on you there. They've shown that. They've shown how they've pitched under high stress situations. We feel like anybody you run out there is going to get the job done, and they have."

Madison Bumgarner trade isn’t what Pablo Sandoval wants to see Giants do

Madison Bumgarner trade isn’t what Pablo Sandoval wants to see Giants do

If that was Madison Bumgarner's final home start in a Giants uniform, Pablo Sandoval made sure it’d be a memorable one.

In the bottom of the 13th inning Tuesday night at Oracle Park, Sandoval sent the home fans happy when he drilled a walk-off home run to the opposite field off Cubs reliever Brad Brach.

Earlier in the game, Bumgarner continued his recent hot stretch, limiting Chicago to three runs and six hits over seven innings before giving way to San Francisco's bullpen, which proceeded to pitch six innings of one-run ball.

Immediately after Sandoval rounded the bases and was hounded by his teammates at home plate, he spoke with NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez about the left-hander who started it all off.

"He's special. He's special. He's one of the guys you don't want to give up," Sandoval said of Bumgarner. "He's such a talented guy up there. Every time he gets on the mound, you want to win for him and do everything you can to support him. 

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"He's one of the greatest pitchers ever. ... He's one of the greatest guys."

Tuesday's start was Bumgarner's final one at Oracle Park before the July 31 MLB trade deadline, and teams surely will inquire about the Giants’ ace. If Sandoval gets his way, it won't be MadBum’s last.