Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had a legitmate beef on Wednesday night.
But, ultimately, the correct call was made in the bizarre play involving Giants third-base coach Roberto Kelly and Gregor Blanco in the ninth inning.
OK, let’s set up the play.
With runners on first and second and one out in the ninth of a 2-2 tie, Brandon Belt shot a single into left field. Blanco, on second base, got a late break on the line drive and had no intention on trying to score as he rounded third base.
But as he rounded the base, Blanco bumped into Kelly, who was standing about six feet from the base.
Mattingly came out to argue interference with third-base umpire and crew chief Fieldin Culbreth, as Blanco clearly came in contatct with Kelly.
“The third-base coach blocked him,” Mattingly said. “I guess that’s the way I’ve been taught – the third-base coach is not allowed to block the runner from continuing on. It’s obviously interference and they missed the call, basically. I don’t know who was supposed to be watching but they weren’t.”
He continued: “He didn’t see it. He was watching the play. I don’t know why the third-base ump is watching the play. There’s nothing for him to watch. It’s a ground ball to left. I don’t know who’s watching to see if he touched the base. I really don’t know what the umpires’ responsibilities are there. But I do know there’s no way in baseball they allow the third-base coach to come up and basically block the runner from going forward, and that’s what happened tonight. That’s obviously a missed call. It’s not reviewable from their explanation.”
It seems that the Dodgers’ main beef is based on the idea that Culbreth didn’t see the play, because he wasn’t looking. And he wasn’t.
But let’s take a look at the facts.
- FACT: Blanco bumped into Kelly.
- FACT: Culbreth didn’t see it.
- FACT: Blanco was not attempting to score.
- FACT: Kelly did not prevent Blanco from attempting to score, not did he assist him in getting back to third
- FACT: There was no play at third base by the Dodgers.
So, it would appear that the Dodgers were hoping to get bailed out of a ninth-inning jam not by a play that they made, but by a technicality or an umpire’s interpretation.
But one problem. Here’s the rule concerning the play from the MLB rulebook.
It is interference by a batter or runner when …
(g) In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base.
So, by the rule, Culbreth’s ruling was correct.
“Don came out and asked me did I see him grab him,” Culbreth said “I told him no, I did not see him grab him. . . . The rule is pretty specific in the fact that he had to touch and physically grab him and assist him in returning to the base. That did not happen. If he doesn’t physically assist him in returning to the base then there’s no interference.”
Blanco concurred: “It wasn’t like he stopped me. I was stopping on third. I don’t feel he was stopping me at all.”
The problem comes in that some umpires would have seen the contact and ruled Blanco out … simply on the basis of stupidity.
There is absolutely no reason for Kelly to be standings THAT close to third base. There is no reason for contact to ever happen in that circumstance.
But it’s another example of a learning curve for Kelly, who made the move from first-base coach to third-base coach to replace the retired Tim Flannery.
You may remember on Opening Day, Kelly got Nori Aoki thrown out with a late stop sign.
On that play, Aoki was rounding third on a double by Joe Panik, when Kelly threw up a late stop sign. That led to Aoki to get caught too far off of third base. He was thrown out in the resulting rundown.
Not surprising, a few days later Aoki scored on a play when he blew threw a Kelly stop sign.
Kelly’s still learning his new job. Hopefully, it doesn’t cost the Giants in the future.
The Giants have lost their first four home games of 2015.
The Giants have lost seven straight games overall.
The Giants, at 3-8, are off to one of the worst starts by a defending World Series champion in history.
So what is there to blog about?
Well, Tim Lincecum’s hair, of course!
The Giants right-hander lopped off his long mane for a more slick-back look on Friday.
So we thought it might be a good time to look back on the many sides of Timmy through the years.
You’ve gotta Timmy, the first-round draft pick in 2006.
And Timmy in 2008, the first of his two Cy Young years.
Timmy hoisting the first of his World Series trophies, in 2010.
Timmy at his second World Series parade in 2012.
The clean-cut Timmy, with glasses to boot in 2013.
And the mustachio’d Timmy in 2014.
The San Francisco lost on Wednesday … again. It was their sixth straight loss, their third straight at home.
Fans at AT&T Park haven’t been able to cheer a win in 2015. And you’re probably wondering if their 0-3 start the Giants’ worst home start ever.
Well, the answer is no. In fact, it’s not even the worst start in their current home park.
Back in 2000, the opening season in the Giants’ home by the bay — then Pacific Bell Park — the Giants opened the home season by being swept by the Dodgers in three games.
Then the Giants lost two more to the Arizona Diamondbacks to end their first homestand of the year at 0-5.
They went on the road, came back and lost to the Montreal Expos, pushing their home record to 0-6.
The Giants won their first game at Pacific Bell Park on April 29.
So let’s hope the 2015 Giants aren’t looking for their first home win on April 29.
But, again, here’s a silver lining.
The 2000 Giants rebounded from the poor home start to win 97 games and the National League West Division championship.
The San Francisco Giants’ offensive ineptness has reached historic levels.
Monday’s loss to the Colorado Rockies in the home opener was just the ninth time in franchise history, dating back to 1883, that the Giants have been shut out in their home opener, and only the third time in San Francisco Giants history.
The Giants looked like they might set a franchise record by being shut out in their first two home contests.
The Giants didn’t push across their first run at home this season until the eighth inning in a 4-1 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday.
Of course, it took two outs for the Giants to get a run home. After the Giants put the first two runners on in the eighth, Angel Pagan alertly advanced to third on an incredible catch by Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado in foul territory. Pagan scored on a more traditional sacrifice fly to the outfield by Matt Duffy.
The 16 consecutive scoreless innings to open the home schedule are the most by the Giants since 1914.
Five of the previous eight times the Giants have been shutout at home occurred before 1914 (1890, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1913). Baseball reference does list box scores before 1914, so we don’t know if 16 consecutive scoreless innings are the most in franchise history.
But we do know this: the one run scored in the Giants’ first two home games of the season tied a franchise record, matching the total from the 1911 season.
If you’re looking for good news, in 1911 the Giants won their third home game of the season and went on to capture the National League pennant.
So maybe it’s a sign. We can only hope.
Saturday night was a rough day for Madison Bumgarner.
MadBum got tagged for five runs on eight hits in three innings in the Giants’ 10-2 loss to the Padres.
You can already hear the talking heads and bloggers going on and on about Saturday’s game is an example of how Bumgarner is feeling the effects of last year’s deep playoff run and high number of innings pitched.
But we’ve seen this before.
Bumgarner said afterwards that his mechanics were off, causing all of his pitches to go flat. Even so, the Padres didn’t exactly light him up.
The Padres’ first-inning rally started with a broken-bat, chalk-finder double by Matt Kemp. A couple of seeing-eye singles resulted in a 2-0 lead.
In the third, more seeing-eye singles and soft liners that dropped in front of outfielders led to three more runs. In all, it was Kemp’s double and nine singles.
Not great. But let’s pump the brakes on the something-is-wrong-with-MadBum talk.
We’ll remind you that after two starts, Clayton Kershaw has a 5.84 ERA, which is worse than Bumgarner’s 5.40.
And we’ve seen this before from Bumgarner. This was Bumgarner’s ninth career start in which he allowed more earned runs than innings pitched.
And we’ve seen him bounce back.
In the eight follow-up starts that came after those rough outings, Bumgarner has gone 5-1 with a 1.11 ERA. That includes his start in the 2012 World Series when he followed up his ugly start in Game 1 of the NLCS with a gem in Game 2 of the Series.
In the one loss, Bumgarner gave up two earned runs in eight innings, but lost because the Giants didn’t score any runs.
And all eight of those follow-up starts came at home. Bumgarner’s next start will come Thursday at home against the Diamondbacks.
Here’s the breakdown of those starts:
- Aug. 25, 2010 (Cin) — 2.2 IP, 7 ER (8 R) 7 H, 1 BB, 3 K
Next: Aug. 31 (Col) — 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 2 K
- June 21, 2011 (Min) — 0.1 IP, 8 ER, 9 H, 1 K
Next: June 26 (Cle) — 7 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 11 K, win
- July 30, 2011 (at Cin) — 4 IP, 5 ER (7 R), 7 H, 3 BB, 4 K
Next: Aug. 4 (Phi) — 8 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 9 K, loss
- July 4, 2012 (at (Was) — 5 IP, 7 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 7 K
Next: July 13 (Hou) — 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, win
- Sep. 11, 2012 (at Col) — 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 11 H, 1 BB, 2 K,
Next: Sept. 17 (Col) — 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, 6 K, win
- Oct. 14, 2012 (StL) – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Next: Oct. 25 (Det) – 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 K, win
- May 17, 2013 (at Col) — 4.2 IP, 7 ER (9 R) 8 H, 2 BB, 4 K
Next: May 22 (Was) — 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K
- July 28, 2014 (Pit) — 4 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 2 K
Next: 9 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 10 K, win
The combined numbers from Bumgarner’s follow-up starts:
57 IP, 7 ER, 17 BB, 51 K, 5-1
So relax. MadBum will be fine.
You can call it the greatest overreaction to a piece of gum since Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles.
In the top of the ninth inning of a 0-0 tie, the Giants’ Angel Pagan and Padres catcher Derek Norris got into a jawing match that resulted in both dugouts being warned by home plate umpire Tripp Gibson.
But what could have sparked a near-brawl between the Giants and Padres?
“It was something really small,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “You can ask them. It was kind of silly, to be honest. It was intense out there.”
OK. So Pagan was asked by reporters.
“It was everything for a piece of gum,” he said.
As Pagan came to bat in the ninth, he looked down in the batter’s box, picked up something small and appeared to fling it at Norris’ shinguard. Norris took offense to that and stood up to tell Pagan about it, and Pagan barked back.
Pagan said the small item was a piece of gum. He was trying to fling it away, but it stuck to his glove and hit Norris.
Afterwards Pagan said: “ That’s his game face. I respect that. … He didn’t have to take that position.”
Norris wasn’t having any of that, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin: “He was just being kind of dickhead, and I don’t take kindly to that. … I don’t come into center field and throw gum at him when he’s playing defense.”
Derek. It was gum. GUM!!
Padres pitcher Craig Kimbrel followed that up by buzzing Pagan high and tight.
“I just happened,” Kimbrel said. “I was wild today.”
He was smiling when he said that.
But it didn’t end there. Pagan then followed by lining a 3-2 pitch into center field for a leadoff triple.
After sliding into third, Pagan celebrated loudly — in the direction of the Giants dugout, or Kimbrel, who was backing up third on the play, or both.
Kimbrel then stared down Pagan.
But Kimbrel got the last laugh, getting Brandon Crawford to pop up and Casey McGehee to hit into an inning-ending double play with Pagan still on third.
As he was leaving the field, Kimbrel barked at Pagan.
Just another fun day at Petco Park with the Giants and the Padres.
Oh, and by the way, the Giants won 1-0 in 12 innings.
“It was a great game overall,” Pagan said. “It was a very fun game, interesting, fun. Everything.”
The San Francisco Giants were in need of some good news. And it came from an unlikely source — Chris Heston.
The rookie right-hander pitched six solid innings to propel the Giants to a 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
Coming into Wednesday, the Giants were unsure of the health of Jake Peavy and Brandon Belt and placed Matt Cain on the disabled list.
Heston was called up to fill in Cain’s spot. But after Peavy looked good in his bullpen session before Wednesday’s game — putting him on course to start Sunday in San Diego — it looked as if Heston’s start Wednesday would be a spot start with Ryan Vogelsong filling Cain’s spot in the rotation after Peavy’s return.
But then Heston did what he did Wednesday. He gave up two unearned runs on three hits and two walks on 91 pitches over six innings. He was the first rookie pitcher to start a game for the Giants in the opening week of the season since Matt Cain in 2006. He became the first rookie pitcher to start and win a game in Week 1 since Kurt Ainsworth in 2003.
The first unearned run was his own fault. Heston hit A.J. Pollock with a pitch in the first inning, then allowed Pollock go to third on an errant pickoff throw. Pollock scored on a groundout.
“The first inning started to unravel a little bit, kind of a little shaky there,” Heston said. “But I was able settle down and get back into it.”
In the sixth, he gave up a laser double to Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt advanced to third on a pitch (which should have been caught by Hector Sanchez) and scored on a passed ball by Sanchez.
And now it looks as if Heston will start Monday in the home opener against the Rockies.
“We’re not moving him,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We need him right now. What a shot in the arm for us.”
It is an unlikely outcome given Heston’s bumpy road to this point.
Heston was drafted in the 47th round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft by the Twins, out of Seminole Community College in Florida. He did not sign and remained at Seminole. He was drafted in the 29th round of the 2008 Draft by the Nationals, but passed on the Nats to attend East Carolina.
The Giants drafted him in the 12th round of the 2009 Draft, and Heston signed. His pro career got off to a bumpy start, going 1-5 in Rookie ball in 2009 and 5-13 for Class A Augusta in 2010.
But things started to come together in 2011 when he went 12-4 with 3.16 ERA for Class A San Jose. He went 9-8 with a 2.24 ERA and 1.103 WHIP for Double-A Richmond in 2012, earning an Eastern League All-Star nod.
He was added to the Giants’ 40-man roster that offseason, but success didn’t follow him to Triple-A in 2013. He went 7-6 with a 5.80 ERA in 2013 and was released in August of that year to create room on the 40-man roster.
Heston re-signed with the Giants and went 12-9 with a 3.38 ERA for Triple-A Fresno last season, earning a September call-up. He started the final game of the 2014 regular season, giving up three runs in four innings against the Rockies.
He spent the past offseason bulking up — something he said the Giants have been pushing him to do for several off seasons — and it paid off this spring. He impressed the Giants, going 1-0 with 2.40 ERA with 10 strikeouts and one walk in 15 innings.
He was set to open the Triple-A season with Sacramento when Cain’s trip to the DL prompted his call-up to face the Diamondbacks.
Where does it go from here? Well, we’ll get a better idea on Monday.
Opening Day: Seven positives (and a big negative) to take away from Giants’ 5-4 win over Diamondbacks
Opening Day. Everything is exaggerated on Opening Day.
Winners are crowned champions. Losers are dreaming about next year. At least in the eyes of the fans.
For the second consecutive season, the Giants opened the season with a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4. Madison Bumgarner picked up the win as the Giants had to sweat through an eighth inning that almost saw the D-back erase a 5-1 on deficit.
While it is only one game about of a 162, we thought we’d look a seven positives that could be taken from Monday’s opener.
- The Giants won. Hey, a win’s a win’s a win, even if it is over the lowly Snakes. We’ll take it, especially on Opening Day.
- The Giants punched out 13 hits — nine singles and four doubles. With a shortage of power, especially with Hunter Pence out, the Giants will need to string together hits for rallies.
- The top of the order produced: Nori Aoki, Joe Panik and Angel Pagan went a combined 8 for 14 with four runs.
- Casey McGehee (2 for 3) got two more hits and three fewer strikeouts (0 to 3) than Pablo Sandoval did on opening day.
- Madison Bumgarner was his usual MadBum, but still good enough to limit the Diamondbacks to one run on six hits over seven innings.
- They played good defense: No errors, turned two double plays. Another key to the season.
- Santiago Casilla looked really good, setting down Arizona’s 1-2-3 hitters in order to record the save in the ninth.
OK so it wasn’t all puppy dog tails and rainbows. Here are a couple of concerns.
The biggest concern came out of something that involved two players who didn’t play Monday. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, both slated to start Games 2 and 3 for the Arizona series, won’t pitch in the series.
Peavy has a sore back. He’s hoping that rest and treatment will allow him to make his next scheduled start this weekend in San Diego.
Cain’s situation is a little more worrisome. Cain was diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm, an injury that will sideline him for two weeks.
The good news is the Giants have some pitching depth in the rotation. Ryan Vogelsong will start in place of Peavy on Tuesday, but the Giants haven’t made a call on who to replace Cain on Wednesday.
One option would be to move up Tim Lincecum, slated to pitch Friday in San Diego. Lincecum only pitched one scoreless inning of relief in the Bay Bridge series, so bringing him back on three days rest shouldn’t be a big concern. However, the idea of Lincecum facing Paul Goldschmidt in Arizona doesn’t warm the heart.
The other option is to put Cain on the DL and call up a pitcher from Triple-A to start in his place. Chris Heston had a solid spring.
Bruce Bochy said he’d prefer to leave Yusmeiro Petit in the bullpen, rather than thin about the bullpen.
The pitchers and catchers reported to camp last week. Now, the rest of the team is reporting.
So I guess it’s time to emerge from my baseball blogging hibernation.
Well, since we last chatted, back in October when the Giants were wrapping up their third World Series championship in five years, the Giants’ offseason could be wrapped up like this.
Imagine last fall’s roster.
Now imagine that the Giants traded away Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse for Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki.
Not thrilled with that trade? Well, that was the Giants’ offseason in a nutshell.
The Giants allowed Sandoval and Morse leave via free agency, gaining a June draft pick for Sandoval. They traded from McGehee and signed Aoki. Then they brought back Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong, Sergio Romo and Travis Ishikawa.
- The Giants are counting on a full return of Angel Pagan, who missed the back half of 2014 with a back injury.
- They are hoping Brandon Belt has the breakout year that they hoped from him in 2014 when his season was shortened by first a broken hand and then a concussion.
- They hope for a full return of Matt Cain, who missed the last half of the season after getting bone chips removed from his elbow.
- They hope Tim Lincecum can refind his form that makes him a significant contributor to the rotation.
- And they Joe Panik doesn’t suffer a sophomore slump.
That’s a lot of hoping. But here is out the 2015 roster is shaping up as spring training gets into full gear.
CF Angel Pagan
LF Nori Aoki
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brandon Belt
3B Casey McGehee
2B Joe Panik
SS Brandon Crawford
IF Joaquin Arias
IF Ehire Adrianza or Matt Duffy
OF Gregor Blanco
IF-OF Travis Ishikawa
C Hector Sanchez or Andrew Susac
LH Madison Bumgarner
RH Matt Cain
RH Tim Hudson
RH Jake Peavy
RH Tim Lincecum, RH Ryan Vogelsong or RH Yusmeiro Petit
RH Santiago Casilla
RH Sergio Romo
LH Jeremy Affeldt
LH Javier Lopez
LH Jean Machi
RH Tim Lincecum, RH Ryan Vogelsong or RH Yusmeiro Petit
RH Tim Lincecum, RH Ryan Vogelsong or RH Yusmeiro Petit
OTHER PLAYERS ON 40-MAN ROSTER
RHP Ray Black
RHP Erik Cordier
RHP Joan Gregorio
RHP Cody Hall
RHP Chris Heston
RHP George Kontos
RHP Derek Law
RHP Hunter Strickland
3B Adam Duvall
OF Daniel Carbonell
OF Jarrett Parker
OF Gary Brown
OF Juan Perez
LHP TY Blach, RHP Clayton Blackburn, RHP Brett Bochy, RHP Kyle Crick, RHP Cody Gearin, RHP Juan Gutierrez, LHP Braulio Lara, LHP Adalberto Mejia, LHP Steven Okert, RHP Curtis Patch, RHP Chris Stratton, LHP Nik Turley, C Aramis Garcia, C Guillermo Quiroz, C Ty Ross, IF Christian Arroyo, IF Mitch Delfino, IF Brandon Hicks, IF Kelby Tomlinson, IF Carlos Triunfel, OF Justin Maxwell, OF Mac Williamson
October 26, 2002 — a date that will live in San Francisco Giants’ fans infamy.
Two World Series championships really hasn’t diminished the sting of that day.
And as the Giants prepare to play Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals, memories of Game 6 of the 2002 Series echo back to Giants fans.
The echo began after the Giants won Game 5 on Sunday. This fact dawned on me.
- The Giants won Game 1 on the road
- lost Game 2 on the road
- lost Game 3 at home
- won Game 4 at home
- won Game 5 at home
Do you know what Series I’m talking about? Yes, it is the 2014 World Series, but also the 2002 World Series.
Game 6s bring back plenty of bad memories for Giants fans.
In 1987, the Giants took a 3-2 series lead back to St. Louis in the NLCS and never scored another run the rest of the series, losing 1-0 in Game 6 when Candy Maldonado played a Tony Pena single into a triple, then couldn’t throw out the slow-running catcher on a sac fly to shallow right.
The next Game 6 the Giants played was in 2002.
Now, the Giants did exorcise a Game 6 demon in the 2010 NLCS. The Giants took a 3-2 series lead in Philadelphia, and the Giants sealed the series with a Game 6 on the road.
That game could be the road map to manager Bruce Bochy’s approach in this Game 6.
In the game in 2010, Bochy went to the bullpen early when Jonathan Sanchez, yanking him with no outs in the third inning. From there, Bochy went to Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner (two inning on two days rest), Javier Lopez, Tim Lincecum (one-third of an inning on ONE day rest) and Brian Wilson to shut out the Phillies.
I don’t see Bochy going to Bumgarner in this Game 6. He made that move with Lincecum in Game 6 in 2002 because he had Matt Cain set to go in Game 7.
I don’t him with the same confidence in Tim Hudson (Wednesday’s Game 7 starter) as he had in Cain in 2010. So Bumgarner will lay in waiting for Wednesday.
But even with that, Game 6 of the 2002 Series lingers.
In Game 5 of the 2010 World Series, after the Giants had taken a 3-0 lead over the Rangers, FOX put up a graphic in the bottom of the seventh that the last time a team had blown a three-run lead or bigger in the seventh inning or later in the World Series was Game 6 of the 2002 Series.
The Giants held on in 2010 to win the World Series. They also won a Game 6 at home in the 2012 NLCS.
But for me, that Game 6 in 2002 still lingers.
In 2002, my wife and I had joined a church that spring. That October, the pastor and his wife invited us to dinner at their house. That dinner date was set weeks before knowing that the Giants would be playing in Game 6 of the World Series.
But the pastor, a baseball fan himself, said that they would have the game on at their house, so come on over. I did, reluctantly.
Things went well for a while. Looked really good at the seventh inning stretch.
But then things went bad. Really, really bad.
I sat stoically, saying nothing, as I watched the collapse.
The pastor’s wife commented: “Tim, I’m amazed with you. If this were happening to the Padres (the pastor’s team), Scott would be going nuts.”
I kept it together until I got home later that night. Then I went straight to my VCR, ejected the tape I used to record the game and smashed it on my backyard deck.
But 2014 is different.
The 2014 Giants don’t have a closer whose arm is about to fall off. Remember, that game in 2002 was the last of Robb Nen’s big-league career.
This year, the Giants are seeking their first World Series title in 48 years, as they were in 2002. It’s been only two years. A Game 6 loss would be far easier to swallow.
The 2014 Giants have Bruce Bochy as their manager. Bochy is 8-0 in postseason series as manager of the Giants and has postseason record with the Giants of 32-13. The 2002 Giants had Dusty Baker as manager. Baker was 2-3 in postseason series with the Giants and had a postseason record of 11-12. Game 7 was the last game Baker would manage with the Giants. And remember, Baker went on to manage the Cubs in 2003 when he was part of the “Bartman Game” in Game 6 of the NLCS.
This group of Giants are resilient. Many were part of the 2012 team that went 6-0 in elimination games. They’ve bounced back from nearly hitting rock bottom this season in June and July, and they continued to plug away when injuries nearly derailed them late in the season.
And most importantly … I won’t be watching this Game 6 at the house of my pastor.