It seems with every game Buster Posey plays this spring, he hits a new milestone in his recovery from last year’s season-ending injury.
On Friday against the Rangers, it was Posey first play at home since getting bulled over by the Marlins’ Scott Cousins.
But by all accounts, Posey passed this test, like he’s passed just about all other tests this spring.
Well, except, the runner wasn’t out. But who cares? Posey was not hurt.
“One run’s not worth him missing the whole year again,” pitcher Madison Bumgarner put it.
The play came in the fifth inning, with the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland on second when Elvis Andrus singled to center.
Angel Pagan came up throwing home on the play. It was a good throw. Posey positioned himself in front of home plate, a bit more out in front than on the Cousins play last May. Moreland then came into the plate wide with a hook side.
Posey fielded the throw, then lunged at Moreland with a sweep tag. At first it appeared that Posey missed Moreland all together. But Posey said he tagged him high. It’s hard to say whether Moreland’s hand swiped the plate before Posey’s tag.
Even though every one else in the park might have been thinking about it, Posey said he wasn’t thinking back to last May when the play developed.
“I was more thinking kind of about the work we’d done this spring and all the practice and stuff,” Posey said. “And I think … it was was good.”
It may have been the first play at the plate, but it won’t be Posey’s last. But again, it’s a step.
Oh and the home plate umpire who made the call at the plate? Derryl Cousins, oddly enough. No relation.
- Somewhat lost in the hub-bub of the Posey play at the plate was the fact that it appeared that the Giants were headed to their second consecutive shutout loss. That is until Brett Pill’s home run in the ninth inning. It was Pill’s third homer this spring and second in three days as he makes a late push to make the club.
- 1B Brandon Belt, also competing to make the club, went 2 for 3 with a walk. He’s hitting .348 this spring.
- Aubrey Huff, getting the start in left, had a double over the center fielder’s head in left-center. It was Huff’s first double of the spring.
- Ryan Theriot started at 3B and went 0 for 3, dropping his spring average to .200 — although he was robbed of an infield hit by a bad call at first.
- Meanwhile, Emmanuel Burriss started at 2B and went 2 for 3, raising his averge to .436.
- Madison Bumgarner gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings (the run coming on that play at the plate). But he also gave up eight hits, all singles. In fact, the Rangers had 13 hits in the game, all singles.
- Javier Lopez got tagged for three runs on four singles in the ninth.
- Sergio Romo returned to action after sitting out with a cranky elbow. He had a 1-2-3 eighth with a strikeout.
The Giants have their final split-squad day of the spring. Both are 1:05 p.m. games. Matt Cain will start on the road against the Reds. Posey will start at 1B in that game. Minor leaguer Travis Blackley will start in Scottsdale against the Rockies.
The Giants continued their winning ways this spring, improving to 14-4 with wins over the Dodgers and the Rangers.
Against the Dodgers, the Giants got some extra base hits to spark an 8-7 win.
They had back-to-back triples by Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez to open the game. Then, later, two-run home runs by Cody Ross and Pat Burrell.
Then in the ninth, Giants fans got a little glimpse of the future when three future Giants teamed up to tally two runs for the 8-7 win.
Thomas Neal and Francisco Peguero started the rally with back-to-back singles. After a double-play ball made it look like the rally would be killed, a wild pitch allowed Neal to score the tying run. After Brad Eldred got an infield single, Ehire Adrianza came in to pinch-run. He stole second and scored on Gary Brown’s RBI single.
On Sunday, the bats came out in an 11-8 win over the Texas Rangers.
All you need to know about Sunday’s game is this: Pablo Sandoval had a triple in the game AND a stolen base. AND it was his second stole base of the season. The Panda finished 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI.
And there were some solid efforts from players battling for roster spots. Nate Schierholtz went 2 for 3 with two runs, two RBI, including his first spring home run. And pitcher Ryan Vogelsong gave up two runs in four innings.
Five months have elapsed since last year’s Fall Classic. But little has changed.
The Texas Rangers still have trouble scoring more than one run off Giants pitcher.
Tommy Hunter still has trouble keeping the Giants off the bases and in the park.
The Giants are still scoring runs with two outs.
Cody Ross is getting clutch hits.
And Pat Burrell is raking.
Whoa! Wait a minute. That last one didn’t happen last fall.
Well, it did happen Monday during the Giants’ 4-1 win over the Rangers. And it’s a good sign that Pat the Bat is ready to get into the mix for the left-field job.
Burrell came into Monday’s game 2 for 17 (.118) in spring training. But he went 2 for 2 with a single and a two-run home run — both to right field.
“My first hits against Texas in two years,” Burrell told the San Jose Mercury News. “Too bad they don’t count.”
Here are more highlights from Monday:
JONATHAN SANCHEZ: Sanchez pitched four innings, giving up one run on two hits. He walked one and struck out five. “Felt pretty good,” he said. “I just worked on my splitter. I had it over the plate.”
CODY ROSS: Ross was 1 for 4 with a two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning. He’s hitting .375 this spring.
PABLO SANDOVAL: The Panda went 1 for 3, ran the bases well in scoring from second on Ross’s hit, and he had a walk.
ANDRES TORRES: Torres continues to work his way back from an oblique injury. He went 1 for 3 with a walk.
JEREMY AFFELDT: Affeldt threw two scoreless innings, with one hit and two strikeouts.
It’s over. They’ve done it. And I’m still trying to make sure it’s real.
The San Francisco Giants are World Series champions.
Fifty-six years in the waiting for Giants fans, 52 years for San Francisco Giants, and 37 years for this Giants fan.
The only thing that would make this better is if I had put $100 on the Giants to win the Series back at the start of the season.
I don’t know what the odds were, but I’m pretty sure you could have got good odds on that happening back in March.
And if I had put another $50 on Edgar Renteria being the Series MVP, I’d be sitting on a pretty big winning pot.
But that’s the way it’s gone for this group. The only thing we can expect is the unexpected.
EDGAR THE MVP?!?!?
Edgar Renteria started the season hot and he was still hitting .320 on April 30 when he strained his groin. He rested the injury for five days before returning on May 6. Then he aggravated the injury and went on the 15-day DL.
The Giants activated him from the DL on May 22. On May 26, he strained his hamstring, and he went back on the DL.
He was activated on June 16, but struggled after returning from the DL.
On August 11, he landed back on the DL a left biceps strain.
He was activated on September 1, but only because rosters were expanded.
He started only seven games in September and none after Sept. 17 because of an inflamed elbow.
He played on Oct. 1 to show he was ready to be on the postseason roster. There was some talk about leaving him off the postseason reason. But there were no better options, so Renteria was put on the roster.
Then in Game 2 of the NLDS, Renteria came in as a pinch-hitter in the 10th and dropped down a bunt single. But the Giants couldn’t get him home. On the first ball put in play in the 11th was a groundout to short. On that play, Renteria suffered a torn biceps tendon. But he played on.
He started Games 2, 3, 4 and 6 of the NLCS. He started all five games at short in the World Series, delivering a key home run in Game 2, going 3 for 4 in Game 4 and then the huge three-run home run in Game 5.
Renteria became the fourth player to have the game-winning RBI in two Series clinching wins, joining — get this — Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.
Well done, Edgar.
And, of course, Renteria’s three-run blast came with two outs.
Just like the Giants have done all postseason. In the Series, 17 of 29 runs scored were with two outs.
FOX: YOU GUYS STINK!
Giants fans were flying high. Edgar Renteria just hit a 3-run homer, giving Tim Lincecum a three-run cushion.
It’s the bottom of the seventh. Nelson Cruz just homered to make 3-1 San Francisco. After a walk, the Rangers have a runner on first and one out. The Giants are seven outs away from the World Series title.
Then Fox went and did it. They threw up a graphic: World Series fact: The last team to come back from a deficit of three runs or more in the seventh inning or later: Game 6 of the 2002 World Series.
That graphic went up, and I actually averted my eyes for a moment.
After Lincecum struck out David Murphy, Joe Buck commented on that graphic, noting that “it’s not a graphic that Giants fans want to read.”
My wife, not the keenest baseball observer, wondered why Giants fans would be upset by that graphic, because the Giants were leading at the time the graphic went up. She didn’t catch that the Angels rallied against the Giants.
So she asked me to clarify. I simply mumbled “I don’t know.”
BOCHY AND A TOUCH OF TORTURE
I don’t want to be the guy who is second-guessing Bruce Bochy. The Giants manager has made all the right moves this postseason.
But when Brian Wilson came out in the ninth, I winced. Lincecum had only thrown 101 pitches at that point. He could have throw 120 or more. He had mystified Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero all night. They were the first two up in the ninth.
I agreed with Tim McCarver. I would have let Lincecum face those guys. If either got on, then go to Wilson.
And if Bochy was going to go to the pen, why not go with Javier Lopez to face Hamilton, then go to Wilson.
But Bochy called on Wilson, and what happened? Wilson set the Rangers down 1-2-3.
That was back-to-back 1-2-3 outings from Wilson in Texas.
Yeah, yeah, Wilson did push Nelson Cruz to a 3-2 count.
But then he reared back and blew it past Cruz.
Torture no more. Only Rapture!!!!!
The lineups are in, and Bruce Bochy must be reading More Splash Hits.
Well, sort of.
Pat’s bat is in the Game 5 lineup, but not his glove.
Pat Burrell will be the DH in Game 5, batting in the No. 7 hole.
Here’s the lineup:
RF Andres Torres
2B Freddy Sanchez
C Buster Posey
LF Cody Ross
3B Juan Uribe
1B Aubrey Huff
DH Pat Burrell
SS Edgar Renteria
CF Aaron Rowand
Mitch Williams on MLB Network said he was surprised by the move, saying Burrell didn’t like to DH in the AL and his production as a DH led to him being cut in Tampa Bay.
But his production as the Giants left fielder in this Series who warrant getting him cut by the Giants if it continued for several weeks.
So there’s nothing to lose putting Burrell as the DH. If he can put the bat on the ball, he could change the game with one swing. Also remember it was Burrell’s walk in the fifth of Game 1 that contributed to a big inning against Cliff Lee.
I think Bochy wanted to put his best defense in the outfield. Against the lefty Lee, that’s Ross, Rowand and Torres. So then your DH options are Burrell, Pablo Sandoval (who hit .227 with 1 HR from the right side), Travis Ishikawa (who hit .111 against LH pitching) or Nate Schierholtz (who actually hits .294 against LH pitching).
Given those options, an uncomfortable Burrell is the best bet.
QUESTIONS WITH LINEUP
Bochy and More Splash Hits were in agreement with many aspects of the Game 5 lineup: Burrell at DH, Burrell hitting deep in the lineup, Rowand hitting No. 9.
But like he did in Game 1 against Lee, he’s moving Aubrey Huff down to the No. 6 hole.
The numbers say Huff is the same hitter against RH pitcher or LH pitchers.
He hit .296 vs. LH pitching this season, .287 vs. RH pitching. His on-base percentage is .378 vs. LH, .388 vs. RH. Slugging is dead-even, .506 vs. .506.
Against Lee in Game 1, Huff was 2 for 3 with a double and RBI.
In the postseason, Huff is 3 for 8 with two RBI against LH starters.
But Bochy goes with Buster Posey No. 3 (that’s fine; that’s where he should be); Cody Ross No. 4 (team leader in postseason HRs; fine) and then Juan Uribe.
Don’t look now, but Uribe is hitting. 140 this postseason. It’s just that every hit Uribe has this postseason has counted — his home run in Game 6 of the NLCS, his 3-run homer in Game 1 of the World Series, his dunker for an RBI single in Game 2.
So if Bochy is moving Huff out of the No. 3 hole, then put him in No. 5 spot with Uribe No. 6.
But most of Bochy’s moves have worked out this postseason, so we’ll see.
The other major difference between the MSH’s lineup and Bochy’s was Rowand in CF and Torres in RF.
I put Torres in center because he’s the better center fielder. All the numbers say so.
Range Factor favors Torres over Rowand 2.66-2.54. The league average for RF is .259.
Total Zone fielding runs above average (which basically counts the number of runs saved above or below the average CF) Torres wins again +7 to +2.
Torres has kept 42.9 pct of runners from taking an extra base. Rowand 39.2 pct.
Rowand does have an advantage is catchers thrown out at home in the postseason. Rowand threw out Carlos Ruiz in Game 4 of the NLCS. Torres could not throw out Bengie Molina on a sac fly in Game 1 of the Series.
Bottom line on why Bochy went with Rowand in CF. That’s where he’s comfortable. Rowand has not play anywhere but centerfield since 2004 when he was with the White Sox.
Torres played 84 games this year in CF, 43 in RF and 37 in LF.
ON FINAL STAT
A lot has been made about how good Cliff Lee has been this postseason. But all of his preview four postseason starts have come on the road — two in Tampa Bay, one in New York, one in San Francisco.
So how has Lee pitched in Arlington?
He’s 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA in seven starts.
OK, trivia time!
In the Giants’ previous two trips to the World Series in which a DH was used, what four players did the Giants use in the DH spot?
While you stew on that, how about the Giants’ DH on Sunday. Aubrey Huff came threw with a huge two-run home run in the third inning that gave the Giants the early 2-0 lead.
Huff led the Giants with 26 home runs. But it seemed like a long time since Huff Daddy went deep. And it was — Sept. 25 at Colorado.
But Huff has been contributing this postseason in little ways.
In the NLDS and NLCS, Huff was 10 for 39 (.256) — all singles. But he did knock in four runs and score four runs.
In the first three games of the World Series, Huff was 4 for 10 with two doubles, two runs and two RBI. On Sunday, he finally went deep, rocketing Tommy Hunter’s first pitch to him in the third for a two-run shot down the right-field line.
It was the first home run by a starting National League DH in the World Series since 2002. Do you remember who that was?
“And he told me about it, too,” Huff told MLB Network Matt Yallof. Dunston is now a bench coach for the Giants.
Well, Aubrey can tell Dunston that the Giants won the game when Huff went deep as a DH. (If you don’t remember which game Dunston hit his home run in 2002, we won’t remind you).
It’s great the Giants had an experienced DH to put in that spot Sunday. It’s nice to have some experienced hitters to go to as potential DH. In the Giants’ previous trips to the Series, the question was “Who do we have to DH?”
OK, trivia answer time. In 1989, the Giants used Ernest Riles as DH in Games 1 and 2 in Oakland. In 2002, they used Tsuyoshi Shinjo (remember him?), Dunston and Pedro Feliz as DH. All three of those players batted in the No. 9 spot at the DH.
So even though Pablo Sandoval didn’t do anything as DH in Game 3, he was at least a better option than what the Giants had in 2002
So who is the DH Monday against lefty Cliff Lee?
Well if it’s our call, it’s Pat Burrell.
Bruce Bochy said Burrell would be back in the lineup in Game 5 after sitting Sunday. But does that mean he’s in left field?
Burrell said he doesn’t like to DH and struggled in the spot with the Rays. But he’s been struggling at the plate in this series while playing left field. So I don’t know what the Giants are risking with Burrell as a DH. He needs to focus on his hitting. That’s why he’s in the lineup. And Cody Ross made some great defensive plays in left field in Game 4 that were huge.
Bochy went with the defensive alignment behind Madison Bumgarner in Game 4. He should keep that same mindset in Game 5.
Besides, what are the other options? Bochy started only one lefty in Game 1 against Lee — Huff, who went 2 for 3. So the other two RH options to DH would be Aaron Rowand, who would likely get the start in the OF if Burrell is the DH, or Pablo Sandoval.
Sandoval hit .227 with 1 HR as a right-handed batter. Rowand hit .211 with 4 homers against lefties this season.
I like the idea of Rowand in left, hitting in No. 9 hole, than Burrell in left and Sandoval at DH.
So here’s my lineup for Game 5:
CF Andres Torres
2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Aubrey Huff
C Buster Posey
RF Cody Ross
DH Pat Burrell
3B Juan Uribe
SS Edgar Renteria
LF Aaron Rowand
Madison Bumgarner was great, the Giants made Tommy Hunter work and got to the Rangers bullpen early and Aubrey Huff gave the Giants the early lead.
It could not have been a better Halloween for the G-men.
The Giants needed to get one win in Texas, and they got it. Now they send Tim Lincecum to the mound with a chance to clinch. Even if things don’t go their way Monday, they’ll get Matt Cain at home in Game 6. I like those chances.
But let’s get it done Monday. The Giants clinched on the road in Atlanta. They clinched on the road in Philadelphia. Let’s complete the trifecta in Texas.
The Giants increased their odds for winning a World Series title. Forty of the 51 teams to go up 2-0 won the Series (78 percent). Now, the stat to look at is this: 38 of 44 teams to go up 3-1 (86 percent) have won the Series.
BAT ON BALL
We mentioned the importance of doing the little things for the Giants. That’s what they did in Game 4.
San Francisco hitters had a great game, even though they plated only four runs.
Here’s a stat that floored me when I heard it: It was not until the fourth inning, on Tommy Hunter’s 72nd pitch of the game, that the Giants had a swing and a miss.
Really? The Giants?!? I can’t remember how many times the Giants came up this season in a contact situation and struck out swinging.
But not on Sunday. Andres Torres opened the third by falling behind 1-2 to Tommy Hunter, then fouled off three balls to work the count to 2-2 before doubling off the first base bag in an 8-pitch at-bat.
Freddy Sanchez tried to get Torres to third. He fouled off six pitches — five with the count 0-2 — before grounding out to third in a nine-pitch at-bat.
Then on the first pitch to Aubrey Huff …. GONE!
GLOVE ON BALL
Is it possible for a guy to go 0 for 4 at the plate and be the star of the game?
If so, then that’s Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez was all over the place, starting double plays, snaring line drives. Even the Rangers’ first hit of the game was on a ball that Sanchez smothered and almost recorded an out on.
And Sanchez also made a nice pick-and-tag on a stolen base attempt by Josh Hamilton.
Great game, Freddy!
If you need another reason to be optimistic about the Giants’ chance, there’s the news that one of the best pitchers in what has been a shaky bullpen for the Rangers is done for the series.
Alexi Ogando pulled a muscle on his left side while throwing a pitch to Juan Uribe in the sixth.
He left the game. Texas manager Ron Washington said he will be replaced on the roster.
Ogando had thrown 3 2/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts and no walks in two World Series games.