Notes: Span ends on high note; Giants honor Scully

Notes: Span ends on high note; Giants honor Scully

SAN FRANCISCO — Denard Span signed a three-year deal with the Giants in part to play in games like the three against the Dodgers. Through the first two games over the weekend, Span was mostly a spectator. 

The leadoff hitter and center fielder most of the season, Span didn’t start Friday and didn’t play at all Saturday. He did, however, make the most of Game 162. 

Span had three hits and scored three runs in the clincher, driving in a pair with a triple to right in the second. His run in that inning gave Matt Moore a 5-0 lead, and in the eighth an insurance run made it 6-1. Span also tracked down Joc Pederson’s threatening fourth-inning fly ball at the wall and he helped Sergio Romo through the ninth with a spectacular diving catch. 

“I woke up this morning locked in,” Span said on Sunday. “Obviously I’m fresh. I haven’t played in two days. I was just locked in.”

That freshness showed in the ninth. Statcast had Span reaching a top speed of 20.4 mph on the ninth-inning play, and he had a route efficiency of 98.2 percent on his way to the grab. As for the reason Span felt fresh, well, it’s clear that the playing time alteration hasn’t always been easy to swallow. 

“I haven’t been in a platoon situation in my career,” Span said. “It wasn’t easy, but I talked to (Bruce) Bochy about it and he told me he needs me to buy in and trust him.”

A few minutes earlier, Bochy had used the same phrase to describe Span’s performance: “He bought in to what we’re doing,” he said. 

Span is hitless in six at-bats against Noah Syndergaard, but it’s a good bet that he’ll be in the batter’s box for the right-hander’s first pitch Wednesday night. If the Giants advance, Bochy will be in for an interesting decision. Gorkys Hernandez became a fixture against left-handers down the stretch and he played well, and Jon Lester will start Game 1 for the Cubs.

That’s a topic for Thursday if the Giants advance. For now, before the wild card game, let’s put a bow on the regular season finale …

--- Span was one of several veteran players who went out of his way Sunday afternoon to compliment Ty Blach, Saturday’s star. Asked about the strong pitching over the final week, he went right to the rookie. “Ty Blach, nobody knew who the heck he was (before) yesterday,” he said, smiling. 

Blach is a household name for Giants fans now. He might have pitched his way onto a playoff roster, too. Remember how valuable Yusmeiro Petit was in the NLDS in 2014? You always need a long reliever. 

--- Several Giants reached out to Ryan Vogelsong on Saturday to provide some good-natured encouragement for the final day. Vogelsong’s help ultimately wasn’t needed, but he did his part anyway, ending his season in style by allowing five hits and one run over five innings. The Cardinals rallied after Vogelsong departed, winning 10-4. They fell a game short of hosting a Monday night tiebreaker. Jeff Samardzija would have pitched for the Giants. 

--- The always-quotable Sergio Romo, as beer dripped down his beard: “Now we get a chance to dance. We like our chances once we get in.”

--- Jake Peavy got the microphone after the game and represented his teammates. He told fans, “I know this season hasn't been what you thought it would be. That being said, we're in." Peavy also promised one more game at AT&T Park, noting that he was one of several free agents standing on the field. “I’m not done playing in this ballpark,” he said. 

--- Here’s my game story from the final game and a notebook leading with Conor Gillaspie’s spectacular catch. And here’s Ray Ratto, getting to the bottom of the best part of the clubhouse party: Some marketing firm probably got paid an absurd amount of money to come up with postseason t-shirt slogans and Bochy celebrated in a 2013 Cactus League shirt. 

--- Regular readers of my post-game “instant replay” stories know that I have taken a few shots at the sellout streak. The math on sellouts is fuzzy, but it just seems pointless to keep that number going (it’s nearing 500) when there were so many nights down the stretch where the ballpark was like 20 percent empty (and don’t get me started on the odd-year Septembers). 

But, credit where credit is due: The Giants handle most things the right way, and they absolutely knocked it out of the park with the Vin Scully tributes. Scully received about a half-dozen standing ovations and was honored with a plaque in the radio booth, presented by Willie Mays. He tapes a video introduction for every game at Dodger Stadium and the Giants showed a special version before Sunday’s game. Between innings, they showed highlights from Scully’s career and tributes from other broadcasting greats. 

Scully signed off for the final time right after 3 p.m. "I have said enough for a lifetime,” he said. “And for the last time, I wish you all a very pleasant good afternoon.”

Giants' Derek Hollard vows that Dodgers won't win NL West in 2019


Giants' Derek Hollard vows that Dodgers won't win NL West in 2019

The 2019 season hasn't yet started (for 28 teams, at least), and the Dodgers have already wrapped up their seventh straight NL West crown.

At least that's how pundits see things shaking out this year.

Fangraphs projects that the Dodgers will win 93 games and win the division by 12 games over the Rockies. CBS Sports asked five of their writers to predict the NL West standings and all five have the Dodgers on top.

Giants starting pitcher Derek Holland doesn't want to hear it.

"That's the thing people need to understand, it's awesome to see how we're the underdog and we're taking advantage of that," Holland told NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy G during the Giants-A's broadcast on Monday night. "Nobody is picking us to do anything, they've already crowned the Dodgers, they voted that they're going to be the champs. Yeah, that's not happening. We're definitely going to make some noise."

Holland told Amy G that the players in the Giants clubhouse have a lot of confidence in themselves.

[RELATED: Sizing up Giants' competition in West]

We appreciate Holland's belief in his squad. In order to back up his words, the Giants are going to have to overcome low expectations. Fangraphs projects them to finish in last place, and all those same five CBS Sports writers have the Giants in the cellar.

Hey, if the Giants do shock people and dethrone the Dodgers, it will be one hell of a story.

Can Giants spoil Dodgers, Rockies' party? Sizing up NL West competition

Can Giants spoil Dodgers, Rockies' party? Sizing up NL West competition

SAN FRANCISCO — The first goal always is to win the division. Even for the champion Giants clubs of the past decade, the first benchmark they always talked about was taking the NL West and getting into the tournament.

No matter how dire it might look, the Giants again will go into this season with that goal. They believe they can surprise people, and they have one big thing going for them: Compared to the rest of the NL, the West simply isn’t very deep.

[RELATED: MLB Power Rankings]

The Dodgers have taken advantage of that, winning six consecutive NL West titles.

Here’s a look at how 2019 shapes up for the teams the Giants will try to beat: 

The Favorite: Dodgers

Newcomers: A.J. Pollock, Russell Martin, Joe Kelly

What they lost: Yasmani Grandal, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Manny Machado, Alex Wood, Brian Dozier, Chase Utley

It was a somewhat disappointing offseason for their fans, many of whom wanted a Bryce Harper-sized splash. But this player development machine will keep churning. They traded Kemp and Puig and plugged in Alex Verdugo, one of the game's top outfield prospects. Clayton Kershaw will miss Opening Day but they still have a pitcher in their rotation, Walker Buehler, who might be the best in the division. They missed on Harper, but there's a very real possibility that Cody Bellinger outpaces him in just about every category. 

The Dodgers are the best team in the division, probably the best in the National League, and if they stay healthy they should be popping bottles in mid-September. 

That's the bad news for Giants fans. The good news? The man who helped build all this is now working at Oracle Park. 

The Contender: Rockies

Newcomers: Daniel Murphy

What they lost: DJ LeMahieu, Adam Ottovino, Gerardo Parra, Carlos Gonzalez.

They've made back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time and the band is back together. You could argue that they should have gone all-in given their situation, but that's never been their style. Instead, the money was spent on Arenado, the league's best player and exactly the type you want leading your franchise long-term. 

There are some key losses here, but Murphy should provide a boost to a lineup that isn't what you'd expect at Coors Field. The real story here is the starting staff, led by Kyle Freeland. You probably haven't heard of most these guys, but it's a very talented group and should have the Rockies in position to make another run for a postseason spot. 

Stock Rising: Padres

Newcomers: Manny Machado, Ian Kinsler 

What they lost: Freddy Galvis, Christian Villanueva 

For years, talent evaluators have talked about the potential of the 2020 Padres. By making the biggest move of any NL West team -- the $300 million Machado deal -- the Padres potentially bumped that timeline up a year. 

The real intrigue here, though, isn't with Machado. 

The Padres have the best farm system in baseball, and Fernando Tatis Jr. could give them another infield superstar as early as this season. Maybe a Franmil Reyes or Manny Margot or Francisco Mejia breaks through and becomes an All-Star? 

They have plenty of pitching on the way, led by Chris Paddack, but it might not arrive in time to allow the Padres to compete this year. They always find a way to put a good bullpen together at Petco Park, but this is a roster that's at least a couple of starting pitchers short. 

They're probably the team in the division that could have used a cheap duo like Holland and Pomeranz, but they're relying on youth, which means they could either win 20 more games than they did a year ago and take the leap as the Braves did last year, or we could continue to look towards 2020. 

Stock Falling: Diamondbacks 

The newcomers: Greg Holland, Merrill Kelly, Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, Wilmer Flores, Adam Jones

What they lost: Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin, A.J. Pollock, Daniel Descalso, Clay Buchholz

They traded Goldschmidt, the face of the franchise, because they thought they couldn’t reach an extension. They lost Corbin, a Cy Young candidate, and Pollock, their second-best player when healthy, to free agency. That’s nearly 13 Wins Above Replacement lost from a team that went 86-76 last year, and a couple other remaining standouts could be sent off before the deadline.

Throw in a couple other vets they’ve lost and there’s a chance they drop to the bottom of the division. There’s still pitching depth, but it’s hard to see how they’re going to have a competitive lineup.