Lead: 4.5 games
Magic number: 24
When the Giants signed Xavier Nady to a minor-league deal early last month, no one was really sure what they were getting from the oft-injured veteran outfielder.
After two games, the Giants are getting quite a bit.
Nady went 2 for 2 with a double and two walks. He scored two runs, and it was his ninth-inning walk that sparked a two-run rally in the ninth, leading the Giants to a win.
The victory gave the Giants a 5-1 road trip. Given they were playing the two worst teams in the NL, it was a good results. But only slightly more than expected.
In two games with the Giants, Nady is 3 for 5 with two doubles, two runs, two walks and three RBI.
In fact, the Giants scored three runs in the third, two in the sixth and two in the ninth. All three of those rallies were ignited by Nady: a single in the third, double in the sixth and walk in the ninth.
On Monday, the Salinas native will play in his first game as a Giant in AT&T Park. Over his career as a visiting player, Nady has hit .299 with 1 HR and 6 RBI in 77 at-bats at AT&T Park.
And the change of scenery won’t be the only change. Nady, who has worn No. 68 in his first two games with the Giants, will wear No. 12 on Monday, Nate Schierholtz’s old number.
With the success he’s been having so far, why would Nady want to change anything?
“Hopefully, it’s not the jersey that affects you,” Nady said.
Probably not, but why risk it?
MoreSplashHits had two thoughts when watching Saturday’s win over the Cubs (and others may have had the same thoughts).
“I wonder if, somehow, Xavier Nady may be the second coming of Pat Burrell (circa 2010)?”
“And if that’s true, why the hell didn’t the Giants bring up Nady in August to make him eligible for the postseason?”
The answer to the first question has yet to be revealed. The answer to the second question is that the Giants know the rules better than MoreSplashHits.
Nady made his Giants debut Saturday wearing No. 68, which of course was worn by other Giants greats like John Ayers. (No, wait a minute, that’s not right. I’m thinking about the 49ers).
Nady made a splash in his first at-bat Saturday, by raking a bases-clearing, three-run double down the third base line in the first inning.
When Nady came to the plate in the first inning, the Giants were just 1 for 45 with the bases loaded and two outs this season. Yikes! I just had a 2011 offensive flashback there.
To make matters worse, the Giants has fanned 21 times in 53 plate appearances this season with two out and the bases loaded. They have also drawn five walks in those situations and have been hit by a pitch once (on Saturday by Hector Sanchez, right before Nady’s hit).
So it was certainly an instant impact. Manager Bruce Bochy was impressed enough with that he’s putting Nady back in the lineup Sunday against the Cubs and Monday against the Diamondbacks.
So can Nady pull off a repeat of the Burrell performance in 2010? Well, Nady was hitting .157 with three home runs and six RBI in 40 games with the Washington Nationals when he was released on July 29. Nady spent a month on the disabled list with a wrist injury before being waived by Washington. He hit .158 in 12 games with Class A Potomac as he tried to work his way back from the DL.
The Giants signed him on Aug. 4 and sent him to Triple-A Fresno, where he hit .270 with 6 HRs and 18 RBI in 25 games. After starting very slowly with Fresno, Nady heated up late, batting .371 with 3 HR and 8 RBI in his final 10 games with the Grizzlies.
By comparison, Burrell hit .202 in 24 games with the Tampa Bay Rays before being released in 2010. The Giants picked him up and he hit .266 with 18 HR and 51 RBI in 96 games with them that season.
Like Burrell in 2010, Nady is 33 years old.
So if Nady can get hot like Pat the Ball in September, why wasn’t he with the Giants in August, making him eligible for the postseason.
Well, as it turns out, the Aug. 31 postseason roster deadline applies only to players being acquired from other organizations.
The rule states that any player on a team’s active 25-man roster, disabled list, restricted list or suspended list on Aug. 31 is eligible for the postseason.
For the Giants, that would include these 35 players:
- PITCHERS (17): Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Guillermo Mota, George Kontos, Jose Mijares, Shane Loux, Brad Penny, Clay Hensley, Eric Surkamp, Brian Wilson.
- CATCHERS (3): Buster Posey, Hector Sanchez, Eli Whiteside
- INFIELDERS (9): Brandon Belt, Marco Scutaro, Ryan Theriot, Brandon Crawford, Joaquin Arias, Pablo Sandoval, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Angel Villalona.
- OUTFIELDERS (6): Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Hunter Pence, Francisco Peguero, Melky Cabrera, Justin Christian.
However, if any of those 35 players are injured at the start of the postseason, any of those players can be replaced with any other player who was with the organization on Aug. 31, whether on the 40-man roster or not.
So with Cabrera on the restricted list and Freddy Sanchez on the DL, those are two players Nady could easily replace in the postseason.
So that’s good news.
Now all Nady needs to do is peform like Pat the Bat, circa 2010.
Riddle: How many runs does it take to sweep the Chicago Cubs?
That’s how many runs it took the Giants to sweep a four-game series from Chicago, winning 4-3, 2-1, 2-0 and 3-2 on Monday.
And just conside how the Giants scored their runs over the weekend.
- A bases-loaded walk
- An RBI groundout
- An RBI single that should have record an out at home but the catcher dropped the ball.
- Gregor Blanco scoring from first on a single when Alfonso Soriano fell asleep in the outfield.
That trend continued Monday.
The Giants plated their first run on an RBI double by Brandon Crawford. But that led to the Giants having second and third with no outs, and they weren’t able to add more runs.
But after that, the Giants scored the tying run in the fifth on a double play grounder that didn’t produce a double play when Starlin Castro forgot how many outs there were.
In the fifth, the Giants loaded the bases with no outs. Joaquin Arias lined out to second. Brandon Crawford then hit a tailor-made double-play grounder to second. Darwin Barney fed the ball to Castro, who stepped on the bag, avoided the sliding Brandon Belt and started jogging to the dugout as Buster Posey sccored.
Whoops, Starlin, Belt’s forceout was only the second out of the inning.
The Giants AGAIN loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh. Arias hit a grounder to Castro. But the Cubs were willing to give up a run for two outs, as the Cubs turned turn as Posey scored the go-ahead run.
Lucky for the Giants, Dale Sveum forgot which team he was managing. These are the Cubs, who had scored six runs all weekend.
He was willing to give up a run for two outs. The Giants were glad to trade two outs for a run.
And the final was 3-2.
The Giants went 6-1 on the homestand scoring a total of 19 runs.
The pitching was great. The defense was solid. The hitting …..
Oh well, we’ll take the first four-game winning streak of the season.
And things have to get better for the offense. The Giants are heading to San Diego next.
Tim Lincecum’s best start of the season came against the Anthony Bass and the Padres. The Freak will get that matchup again Tuesday with a 7 p.m. game at Petco Park.
A rare thing happened Sunday at AT&T Park, something Giants fans haven’t seen in the past five-plus seasons.
Manager Bruce Bochy came out of the dugout to pull Barry Zito from the game after Zito walked a batter, and the crowd at AT&T booed.
OK, that’s not so rare. But try this on for size.
They booed Bruce Bochy.
Zito threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings Sunday. But after giving up a one-out walk to Darwin Barney, Zito was pulled despite throwing only 96 pitches.
“Your heart’s telling you ‘Hey, give him a shot” at the shutout, Bochy said. “But your brain’s telling you the right thing to do is go get him and bring in (Sergio) Romo.”
In other words, if the Giants were up 6-0, Bochy leaves Zito in the game. But with the tying run at the plate, calling on Romo was the right call.
Romo struck out Starling Castro and got Alfonso Soriano to hit a come-backer for the final outs.
So Zito’s chance for a second shutout this season went by the wayside. But thanks to Romo, he did get the victory to improve to 5-2.
And while he’s at it, Zito should also thank Soriano for the win. Thanks to the outfielder’s inept defense, the Giants were able to put two runs on the board.
The first defensive lapse by Soriano came in the fifth inning when the Giants were still searching for their first hit off Travis Wood.
Angel Pagan hit a deep liner to left that just about any other left fielder in the National League (yes, perhaps even Aubrey Huff) should have been able to catch. But Soriano didn’t read it right and his sore legs allowed the ball to sail over his head for a double, extending Pagan’s franchise-record home hitting streak to 27 games.
One out later, Joaquin Arias, who had been 3 for 17 with two outs and runners in scoring position, slapped a single to right. Cubs right fielder Reed Johnson threw home and the ball appeared to arrive just ahead of the sliding Pagan at home, but catcher Koyie Hill could not corral the throw, and Pagan scored the game’s first run.
It stayed 1-0 until the eighth when Gregor Blanco walked with one out. Blanco was running with the pitch when Melky Cabrera singled to left. Blanco motored to third, and when Soriano was slow getting to the ball and then threw it into second, Blanco raced all the home for a 2-0 lead.
It would surprise us to see Soriano sitting on the bench Monday afternoon.
But that should distract us much from the solid outing from Zito. The lefty lowered his ERA to 2.98 after giving up just four hits and two walks, while fanning five.
Zito’s outing shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, especially given the opponent.
One of Zito’s three victories in 2011 came against the Cubs on June 28, when Zito was making his first start in more than two months on the DL. On that day, he limited the Cubs to two runs on four hits in seven innings in a 6-3 Giants win in Wrigley Field.
In his next start Friday at AT&T, Zito will get the opportunity to do something he didn’t get the chance to do in 2010 — pitch against the Texas Rangers.
The Giants will try to go for the sweep and post their first four-game winning streak of the season when they send Ryan Vogelsong against Jeff Samardzija at 12:45 p.m. Monday.
The San Francisco Giants turned back the clock to 1912 on Saturday, figuratively and literally.
The Giants and Cubs broke out the 1912 uniforms to commemorate the four-year anniversary of the Cubs’ last World Series (which they shouldn’t have actually won … see Fred Merkle).
Then the Giants won a game in dead-ball fashion, scoring both runs with the benefit of an RBI hit.
The Giants loaded the bases in the sixth on singles by Ryan Theriot, Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan. Then scored on a walk by Aubrey Huff and an infield forceout by Joaquin Arias.
The rest of the work was done by Matt Cain.
Cain had a rough moment in the fourth, giving up a two-out solo home run to David DeJesus followed by a double to Alfonso Soriano.
In his other seven innings of work, he limited the Cubs to three hits and two walks in eight innings, throwing 117 pitches.
Three of the Giants’ six hits came in that sixth inning. Cain had one of the remaining three hits. The walk to Huff was the Giants’ lone walk in the game.
Giants pitching have shutout the Cubs so far this series when they’ve kept the ball in the yard.
The Giants hope to break out offensively when Barry Zito faces Travis Wood at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. The game will be carried live on WGN.
When I first subscribed to MLB.TV, I decided it was worth it to get the premium package so that I had the choice to pick the Giants feed.
So instead of having to endure the opposition’s broadcast crew, I watch Kruk and Kuip for most of my Giants viewing.
But my schedule Friday took me away from the computer. So I decided to DVR WGN’s broadcast and watch the game when I got home.
The bad part of that is it subjected me to the obligatory showing of the Buster Posey/Scott Cousins play from last May when Posey made his first plate appearance. And of course, that replay has to be quickly joined by the moronic comment about how that play “ended the Giants’ playoff hopes in 2011” even though the Giants were still in first place in the NL West well into August.
The upside is that it did allow us to hear Bob Brenly’s funny reflections on Candlestick Park.
Now, some former Giants, like Duane Kuiper or Mike Krukow, will associate The Stick with some fond memories.
But not Brenly, who played almost his entire nine-year big league career with the Giants and at Candlestick.
Brenly’s broadcast partner Len Kasper mentioned how he enjoyed hearing his partner’s off-colored remarks about the Stick as they would drive past it after flying into the Bay Area from San Francisco International.
“This time I just asked for a moment of silence for all of us who had to play our careers in that dump,” Brenly said Friday.
But then Kasper took Brenly to task saying “I know you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for Candlestick.”
Brenly then gave in … a bit.
Brenly said that it was true “only because it was the first place I played in the major leagues. And in that respect, it will always have a special place in my heart.”
Then he added: “But it moved to other parts of my anatomy later in my career.”
Brenly added that after visiting other ballparks with better facilities and less wind and cold, The Stick paled by comparison.
“Underweight fans at The Stick had to put rocks in their pockets to make sure they didn’t get blown around the park like a hot dog wrapper.”
And this from a guy who now calls Wrigley Field home.
In almost a blink of an eye, Friday’s Giants-Cubs game went from a being a 4-0 snoozer win for the Giants to a one-run nail-biter with the Cubs putting the go-ahead in scoring position.
So how did that happen?
Well, let’s take a look at Madison Bumgarner’s night.
At the start, four of the first five balls the Cubs put into play went for singles. But Cubs didn’t do any damage with that because MadBum recorded five of his first seven outs by strikeout. The other two outs came on the the only other ball the Cubs put in play, a double-play grounder by Steve Clevenger.
From there, Bumgarner set down 15 of the next 17 batters, including one double play.
So when he went out for the ninth inning, having thrown 97 pitches, it looked like Bumgarner was headed for his first career shutout.
But after falling behind his first two batters in the ninth — and giving up back-to-back singles — MadBum got the hook from Bruce Bochy.
Normally, I feel Bochy tends to let his starters linger too long. But in this case, with MadBum at 102 pitches, I would have liked to see him face another batter.
But Bochy called on closer Santiago Casilla in what was now a save opportunity. Casilla gave up a three-run homer to Alfonso Soriano, one thing that MadBum is particularly good at avoiding.
Now, a one-run game, Casilla got Reed Johnson for the first outing before giving up a double to Bryan Lahair. Darwin Barney reached on a swinging bunt. Casilla hurt his knee on the play and came out of the game (although Bumgarner indicated later he didn’t think the injury was serious).
Javier Lopez came in and got Clevenger to ground out to first, advancing the runners to second and third. Lopez then got David DeJesus to fly to center to end the game.
- OF Angel Pagan went 1 for 4 to extend his hitting streak at home to 25 games, the best by any player in franchise history.
- Maybe that stint on the DL is just what 2B Ryan Theriot needed. He went 3 for 3 with a double and walk on Friday. He’s 8 for 21 since coming off the DL is now hitting .234 for the season. He was hitting .179 when he went on the DL.
Matt Cain faces Matt Garza in game 2 of the series at 4:15 p.m. Fox game on Saturday. That means if you’re local Fox affiliate chooses not to carry the Giants vs. Cubs (like the Portland affiliate which thinks we care about the Damn Yankees vs. the Tigers) it means the game won’t be available on MLB.TV. Why does Fox think by blacking out a game on MLB.TV it means we’ll have no choice but to watch the Yankees-Tigers? I’ll be listening on KNBR.