Posts Tagged ‘Brian Sabean’

Span Catch Stymies Giants’ Rally

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

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With two runners on in the top of the 9th and San Francisco rallying against a reeling Nationals’ relief corps, Giants’ right fielder Hunter Pence hit a line drive into the gap in left center field — a clutch hit that would have certainly tied, and might have even won the game for the McCovey’s.

But fleet-footed Denard Span raced back and to his right, leaving his feet to snag the drive — thereby preserving a 6-5 Nationals victory. Span’s game saving play was greeted with a standing ovation by Nats’ fans, who also celebrated the team’s fifth win in a row. “I didn’t think he had it,” Jayson Werth said of the play.

“I take pride in my defense,” Span told reporters after the victory. “Would I like to be hitting .400? Of course. But I love the feeling of taking a hit from somebody or robbing a home run or robbing an extra-base hit. There’s no better feeling than being able to do that, especially like tonight.”

The Nationals victory came at the expense of Tim Lincecum, whose no hitter several weeks ago was the highpoint of his season. Lincecum was not nearly as effective on Wednesday, giving up six runs and seven hits in just six innings of work, including a 448 foot blast off the bat of Giants’ killer Ian Desmond.

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Desmond’s home run and a double off the bat of Anthony Rendon with the bases loaded in the fourth inning provided a large and early Washington lead for starter Jordan Zimmermann, who was attempting to win his National League leading fourteenth game of the season.

The Desmond-Rendon heroics should have sealed the game for the home town Nationals, but San Francisco kept chipping away, especially after Zimmermann left the game after throwing seven innings of six hit baseball. Ian Krol and Ryan Mattheus proved ineffective in the 8th, with Tyler Clippard coming in to put out the San Francisco fire.

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Tempers Flare, But Nats With Their Fourth Straight

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

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An aching back, a sore right knee, a rain delay, a bout of the flue and a dugout confrontation were all part of Tuesday night’s storyline at Nationals Park, though Washington triumphed to win their fourth in a row, defeating the always interesting San Francisco Giants 4-2.

The irritable owner of the aching back was Gio Gonzalez, who worked four innings to hold the Giants at bay before being relieved in the wake of an hour-long rain delay. After Gio left the game, victim of both rain delay and balky back, the Nationals bullpen successfully carried the team the rest of the way.

The sore right knee, on the other hand, belonged to right fielder Jayson Werth (who aggravated the ache in sliding home with an extra Nationals’ run in the 8th inning), while a bout of the flu kept left field phenom Bryce Harper out of the starting line-up.

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And the dugout confrontation? The flare-up took place in the bottom of the first inning between starters Gonzalez and Werth as the two came off the field and then again in the dugout as teammates scrambled to get between them. The argument came after the gimpy Werth couldn’t hold Giants’ second sacker Joaquin Arias to a single, after which Gonzalez was slow to cover first on an infield out.

“Oh, just a little camaraderie going on,” Manager Davey Johnson said of the Gonzalez-Werth spat. “Spirits are high. I like it. No big deal.” That may be true, but the exchange of pleasantries was nearly enough to overawe s scrappy and much-needed Nats’ win over a left coast team suffering through a lost season.

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Melky’s $70 Million “Mistake”

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

There might have been people around baseball who were shocked by yesterday’s news that Melky Cabrera had been suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance, but the San Francisco Giants were not among them. No one knows whether Giants’ G.M. Brian Sabean knew when baseball was considering taking the action, but it might have been before the Giants swung a deal with the Phillies for the services of Hunter Pence.

What a deal, we all said — now the Giants have two solid outfielders, and could be headed to the post-season. But in reality, and particularly after yesterday, they still only have one: Sure, Cabrera might be able to come back this year, but only if the Giants make it to NLDS. Otherwise, he’s done.

Cabrera didn’t exactly argue the point. After the league office announced the suspension, Cabrera issued a statement apologizing to the Giants’ organization, its players, and its fans. “My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used,” Cabrera said. The substance in question is testosterone, which not only enhances performance but is hard to detect.

An article written by Bob Nightengale that appeared in this morning’s USA Today quotes Victor Conte, the founder of “the infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO),” as saying that Testosterone has become the PED of choice in the MLB, because “it significantly reduces the risk of being caught.” It’s possible to take Testosterone the night before a game, and have only a small amount of it in your system the next day.

The Nightengale article is interesting (once you get past his patented faux outrage), because it raises fundamental questions, though not about baseball’s drug testing policy. Rather, it raises questions about whether we’re entering an era where it will be possible to take PEDs that cannot be detected. If you take Conte seriously, that’s possible.

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Nats Late Rally Can’t Snag The Fish

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The Nationals mounted a furious rally against the visiting Florida Marlins during the ninth inning last night at Nationals Park — but it wasn’t furious enough to top the Hanleys, who snagged the Nats, 7-5. As in his previous most recent starts, Nats’ righty Livan Hernandez was inconsistent — as opposed to the normally shaky Javier Vazquez, who was able to hold down Nationals hitters through seven innings of competent, if not brilliant, work.

The Nationals’ bottom-of-the-ninth rally came on a triple from Ian Desmond, a Jerry Hairston single, an Alex Cora walk, a Ryan Zimmerman triple, a Michael Morse single — and a Laynce Nix fly ball to the warning track in right field that was just feet away from being a game-tying home run.

The Nationals have reached the dog days of the season in the doldrums: Livan Hernandez pitched only four complete innings, reliever Todd Coffey gave up three hits and a run in 1.1 innings, and Drew Storen gave up a two run home run in the ninth inning to newly arrived Marlin Mike Cameron. “The bats just woke up too late,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said after the loss.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Carlos Beltran is going to the Giants, in exchange for wunderkind-to-be Zach Wheeler. While everyone is talking about how Beltran is going to help the McCoveys (providing a big bat in the middle of their anemic hitting line-up), the Mets were able to get a young and formidable arm. This was a good trade for the Metropolitans.

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Cain CG Stymies Nats

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Yunesky Maya finally pitched like he belonged in the majors on Wednesday, throwing six complete innings and giving up only four hits — but the Nationals fell to the Giants in San Francisco, 3-1. Maya looked confident, a significant change from his first two outings, when he was tentative, and struggling. But against the Giants he commanded the strike zone, with his off-speed pitch setting down enough McCoveys to keep the Nationals within a run of the lead.

The game was lost on the arm of reliever Sean Burnett, who continues to struggle. In the 7th, after a Cody Ross single, Burnett gave up a deep gapper to Brandon Crawford (scoring Ross) and an Eli Whiteside single, that scored Crawford. That was enough for Matt Cain, who dominated the Nationals in a complete game. The big righty threw 110 pitches, 78 of them for strikes. The Giants’ win gave them their home series against the Nationals, as the Nats head to San Diego to take on the Gwynns. (more…)

JZ Skins The Snakes

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Jordan Zimmerman was finally rewarded for pitching a good game, as the Nationals’ righty shut down the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Nationals toughed out thirteen hits and went on to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix, 6-1. Zimmermann, now 3-6, held the D-Backs to six hits and single run, commanding the strike zone and striking out four in seven complete innings of work. The Nationals have now won three in a row.

Zimmermann was not the only Nat on fire: Michael Morse continued his hot hitting streak by going 4-5 and raising his average to a torrid .319. But Zimmermann was the story of the night: “When I needed a double play, I got the double play,” Zimmermann said of the win. “It was a little bit of a battle for me tonight. It might not look like it. There were guys on in the middle of the game. I had to really make some pitches. I made the pitches when I needed to make them and worked out of it.”

The win marked one of the Nationals’ best efforts of the year — a combination of great pitching, dominant hitting and great defense. Morse seems to have settled in at first base, where he saved Zimmermann from tough innings with two great plays. Jayson Werth also got to three sinking liners in right field, keeping the Snakes off the bases and pacing the game. The Nationals win defanged the surging D-Backs, who fell back to within a half game of the top the N.L. West.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The San Francisco Giants are breathing easier. The N.L. West’s hitless wonders broke out for eleven hits and 12 runs in downing the St. Louis Cardinals, 12-7. As important was the fact that the struggling Aubrey Huff registered three homes runs — a nearly unheard of total for a player who has looked confused at the plate. Huff”s struggles might not be over: he’s hitting just .233 and the McCoveys, now in first place in the West, are 13th in the N.L. in hitting.

The Giants have been struggling: last week they were swept at home by the Marlins, then promptly lost two of three to the Brewers. The injury to catcher Buster Posey gave the clubhouse that sinking feeling and the team was struggling, even though they had put in a good month, registering impressive wins against the Dodgers and A’s. The Giants’ quiet bats seem to have awakened in St. Louis, as the team has scratched out impressive 7-3, 7-5 and (now) 12-7 wins. There are only two teams standing now in the N.L. West — the Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

It was only a matter of time, we suppose, before the Posey collision became a matter of controversy. Deemed a “clean hit” by nearly every baseball commenter, San Francisco G.M. Brian Sabean issued a different judgment yesterday. Sabean said that the hit at the plate by Florida’s Scott Cousins was “unnecessary” and “premeditated.” Cousins apologized for the hit (though we’ll be damned if we know why), but Posey has refused to respond.

Sabean called the lack of a response from Posey “hard nosed,” but refused to say the same thing about Cousins: “If I never hear from Cousins again or he never plays another game in the big leagues, I think we’ll all be happy,” Sabean said. That makes it official — Brian Sabean is still the jerk we all knew him to be. Here’s the full interview (and it’s worth listening to). Cousins says he’s received death threats, presumably from Giants’ fans. Sabean’s interview, which should have made the situation better, has made it worse.

Bumgarner Ropes The Rangers

Monday, November 1st, 2010

The San Francisco Giants are 27 outs from a World Series win, the first since the team moved from New York to the west coast. If Sunday night is any indication, the send-em-to-the-golf-course triumph will come as a result of stellar pitching and situational hitting: Giants specialities that have flummoxed (in turn) the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and now, the Texas Rangers. Madison Bumgarner is the latest example of how the Giants have dominated the series — throwing 8 innings of three hit baseball (106 pitches, 69 strikes) in shutting down a potent Rangers’ offense. Bumgarner was nearly unhittable, becoming the fifth youngest pitcher in baseball history (21 years and 91 days) to start in the Fall Classic. “He was as good as I’ve seen him,” San Francisco catcher Buster Posey said after the win. “He was in and out, really. The first couple of innings he might have yanked a couple of fastballs, but after that he was unreal.”

The Rangers, stymied by San Francisco’s arms (Bumgarner struck out Vlad Guerrero three times and Michael Young twice), will attempt to get back into the series on Monday by sending uber ace Cliff Lee to the mound to face-off against Tim Lincecum. So while a Giants’ win in the Series is far from guaranteed, San Francisco has to be confident that it can do to Lee what it did on Sunday to Tommy Hunter — and last week to the Rangers’ bullpen. And yet, Texas sounded anything but confident. “We still have to find a way to score runs,” Texas third sacker Michael Young (.250 for the series), said after the Bumgarner outing. Young’s view was seconded by Nelson Cruz — who’s hitting a Willie Harris-like .188 against Giants’ pitching: “We need more hits and more people on base.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Not only is San Francisco’s pitching good, it’s home grown. Tim Lincecum was a 2006 (tenth overall) San Francisco draft pick, Matt Cain was selected by the Giants in the first round (25th overall) in 2002, Jonathan Sanchez was picked up by the Gigantes in the 27th round in 2004 and Madison Bumgarner was a Brian Sabean favorite in 2007 — when he was drafted tenth overall. It’s the first home-grown rotation to reach the World Series since 1986, when Boston trotted out Bruce Hurst, Roger Clemens, Oil Can Boyd and Al Nipper to face the New York Mets. The San Francisco model (draft pitching, buy hitting) is followed throughout baseball, but few teams have had as much success in following it as the Giants. The Giants follow two other principles: they don’t dilly dally in moving their best young arms to the majors (Lincecum and Bumgarner each spent two years in the minors), and they don’t trade them for hitting — Sabean pushed aside a proposed Lincecum for Alex Rios deal, turned down a Cain for Prince Fielder deal and spurned numerous suitors (including your Washington Nationals) for Jonathan Sanchez . . .

The Norris Nine? We’ve received a ton of mail from readers following up on our little ditty about proposed Texas Rangers’ nicknames. One reader divided his list into two parts — “old ones” and “new ones.” Among the old: the “Spurs” (an old Dallas-Ft. Worth baseball team), the “Strangers” (a 1970s nickname given the Rangers because of their relocation from D.C.), and the “Hambones” — which is Josh Hamilton’s nickname. Hmmmm. This reader lists as new ones the “Ex-Senators,” the “Re-Arrangers,” and “the Bushies.” This last makes sense, given the prominence of the Bush family, who have found themselves (with Nolan Ryan), in camera range during the Series. But the best nominee from this (anonymous) reader is “The Texas Walkers,” named for the “Walker, Texas Ranger” television series, starring (quick intake of breath) Chuck Norris. This has potential (this reader implies), because it can be morphed into “The Norris Nine” — which has a certain ring. This regular CFG reader (and who isn’t) isn’t the first fan to put the Rangers together with the aging kick boxer. Back in August of 2009, when the Rangers were contending for a Wild Card spot with the Boston Pedroia’s, a Red Sox fan (with entirely too much time on his hands), gave us this . . .