No drama as Strickland, Harper square off for first time since fight

No drama as Strickland, Harper square off for first time since fight

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Hunter Pence's RBI single in the seventh inning on Friday was a sneaky big moment if you're a fan of drama. The run gave the Giants a 9-5 lead, which meant Hunter Strickland was left in the bullpen in the ninth inning, when Bryce Harper was due up third. There was no avoiding a confrontation on Sunday. 

Harper led off the top of the ninth at Nationals Park, and Strickland came in with a two-run lead. A little over a year after they came to blows in the middle of AT&T Park, Harper grounded Strickland's third pitch up the middle for the first out of a 1-2-3 ninth. 

"Last year is over. I've just got to get the out," Strickland said. "The past is the past. Everybody has moved on and that's part of the job, to get whoever is up there out."

Well, not everybody has moved on. Much of Sunday's crowd departed before the ninth, fearful that a storm was on the way. But those who remained showered Strickland with loud boos as he warmed up. The boos were not as loud, however, as they were when Strickland and the Giants played here last August. 

"That's expected," Strickland said, smiling. "I don't blame them."

The matchup never came close to turning dramatic. The first pitch was an 89 mph slider that was up, and Harper fouled it back. Two pitches later, he was headed back to the dugout. Harper did not look back at Strickland and Strickland did not look back at Harper. He returned to the mound and clinched his 13th save, capping off a big day for the bullpen.

Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless sixth against his former team. Sam Dyson breezed through the seventh. Tony Watson struck out one in the eighth. The four relievers combined for four hitless innings and struck out three, continuing a trend. Since Will Smith and Melancon returned, this bullpen has turned into one of the National League's strongest. 

"Those guys are tremendous and they're going a great job," Strickland said. "Everybody all year has been doing their part, but to get those guys back, with that kind of experience, is always clutch."

Tim Flannery finds inspiration after tragedies, releases new album


Tim Flannery finds inspiration after tragedies, releases new album

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Flannery has released 14 albums, pulling inspiration from all kinds of sources. Sometimes he would write about the music scene in a certain city, or a character he met during his decades on the road playing and coaching baseball.

But the album Flannery will release Saturday has special meaning. Flannery wrote it after dealing with two different kinds of emotions. 

“This album really started probably out of tragedy,” he said this week.

Last January, Rob Picciolo, a longtime big league coach, and Kevin Towers, the former general manager of the Padres, passed away in the span of a few weeks. Flannery, the former Giants third base coach and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst, found himself attending the funeral of a close friend on back-to-back weekends. He wrote a song about it called “The Light.”

Later in the year, Flannery’s son, Danny, called him and told him he would be going to rehab in Oregon. That experience was turned into “Ghost Town,” the second track on the album, also called “The Light.”

“That whole episode of dealing with it and even when he got out, some of the things he was thinking and saying about not wanting to go back to his ghost town again, that’s easy for me to relate to,” Flannery said. “I’m sure everybody has their ghost town. The next thing I know I’m writing another song out of it, and something else and something else, and a year and a half later, you’re playing these songs at shows.”

Flannery said he didn’t expect to make another album after his previous one, but he never stops playing, and he found new stories to tell. He said his son was happy that the story was being told through music. 

“He said, ‘I think we can help other people deal with things.’ He’s all-in,” Flannery said. “He’s a changed man and asked me to tell the story.”

Tim Flannery & The Lunatic Fringe will debut the album on Saturday at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City. All proceeds will go to the non-profit Love Harder Project for anti-bullying and anti-violence programs across the country.

“This record is for me like a burning light in a world that has gone dark at times,” Flannery said. “It’s gone dark for different people, for different reasons, but this record is a record of hope, a record of love and light.”

Cameron Maybin, on Giants this spring, to visit Oracle Park with Yankees

Cameron Maybin, on Giants this spring, to visit Oracle Park with Yankees

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants will face two Yankees lefties this weekend at Oracle Park, and for most of this spring, their plan would have called for Cameron Maybin to start those games. If Maybin is in the lineup this weekend, it'll be for the visitors. 

Maybin, a non-roster invitee in Giants camp this spring, was traded to the desperate Yankees on Thursday morning and added to their big league roster. The Yankees sent cash considerations to the Indians, who stashed Maybin at Triple-A after he was let go by the Giants. 

The Yankees turned to Maybin because of unbelievable injury issues in their outfield. Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks are on the DL, and Clint Frazier -- who hit six homers in fill-in duty -- joined them after spraining his left ankle earlier this season. Frazier became the 15th Yankee to hit the injured list (by comparison, the Giants have just one, the rehabbing Johnny Cueto).

The Giants at one point thought Maybin could form a platoon with Steven Duggar or provide depth in their corner outfield spots. But he had a poor spring on and off the field, and ultimately the front office started the year by taking a look at Michael Reed in that spot. It is now Kevin Pillar who provides the right-handed balance and plays center field.

[RELATED: What we learned from Giants' 4-4 road trip]

The Giants, it's fair to say, are happy with how this all turned out. 

Maybin played 14 games in Triple-A for the Indians, hitting .216 with three doubles and 13 walks.