Bay Area Baseball

Follow the latest news and notes on the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics

April 30, 2013
A's, Angels lineups: Short-handed after 19-inning marathon

OAKLAND -- The A's made just one roster move today following last night's 19-inning marathon win over the Angels, recalling reliever Evan Scribner from Triple-A for some bullpen depth and sending Dan Straily back down. Manager Bob Melvin said the A's are probably just going to be a little short-handed tonight after Coco Crisp and Chris Young both left last night's game with injuries.

Crisp (strained left hamstring) and Young (strained left quad) are both out of the lineup. Melvin said Young's is probably less of a concern than Crisp, and that Young possibly could be available to pinch-hit tonight. Hamstrings can be tricky, so the A's don't want to take a chance with a speed guy like Crisp. Melvin said he didn't yet know if either is a candidate for the disabled list.

April 30, 2013
A's win longest game in Oakland history on Moss' blast in 19th

OAKLAND -- By the time Brandon Moss' two-run homer sailed over the right-field wall in the 19th inning, officially ending the longest game in Oakland A's history, the A's had rallied from a five-run deficit for the second consecutive day, Brett Anderson had made his first career relief appearance after being scratched from starting against the Angels, the teams had combined to throw 597 pitches and Moss had already homered in the game -- 13 innings earlier and technically the day before.

"I'm glad it's over," Moss said.

The A's beat the Angels, 10-8, in the first game of a three-game series at O.co Coliseum on Monday night, although it was well into Tuesday morning when Moss hit his third career walk-off homer off Angels right-hander Barry Enright. The time of game was six hours, 32 minutes, the longest ever for the stadium, the Angels and the Oakland era.

"It's one of those things where you just want to quit, but at the same time you don't want to lose, so you're not going to quit, and you just keep fighting through and hoping they throw a ball into your bat," Moss said.

April 29, 2013
Melvin, A's react to NBA's Collins coming out as gay

OAKLAND -- In light of NBA center Jason Collins coming out as gay today in a story in "Sports Illustrated," A's manager Bob Melvin was asked what he thought the reaction in the A's clubhouse would be to having an openly gay teammate. Melvin said he agreed with reliever Jerry Blevins' assessment that the A's clubhouse is one of the more inclusive and open in sports to begin with.

"We welcome all kinds here, and I think it's good," Melvin said. "We embrace that as an organization, especially in the demographic we're in, in California here. We would absolutely have no issues with that at all."

Collins, a 34-year-old center who ended this season with the Washington Wizards, is the first active player in one of the four major U.S. pro sports to come out as gay. Melvin was also asked for his reaction to Collins' announcement.

April 29, 2013
How A's Lowrie helped bust Josh Donaldson's slump; lineups

OAKLAND -- A's third baseman Josh Donaldson said he'd just woken up this morning and flipped on the TV when he heard his name on the MLB Network. The reason -- he had been named A.L. Player of the Week for the term ending Sunday, over which Donaldson batted .545 (12-for 22) with seven doubles, 10 RBIs, seven walks and four runs in seven games.

"Within about 30 seconds they said it on TV and I was like, this is crazy. Really?" said Donaldson. "I knew I put a pretty decent week together, but I wasn't expecting any kind of award or anything. But it happened and I'm appreciative of it."

A pretty understated reaction from Donaldson, about whom manager Bob Melvin later joked that when Melvin was telling people about the award today, the common response was, "That's great," followed by, "Oh no."

"Meaning if you know him, he can be a little bit vocal and spread the word," Melvin said with a grin. "But congratulations to him, well-deserved."

April 28, 2013
Céspedes' dramatic return, Sogard's mad dash cap 9-8 A's win

OAKLAND -- Sure, there's the disparity in the A's record when Yoenis Céspedes starts (now 9-2 this season) and when he doesn't (5-10). There's the fact that he protects other hitters batting in the middle of the lineup and has to be on the minds of opposing runners and base coaches with his arm in left field. But today showed why the A's spent the past few days answering questions about how much they were looking forward to having him back from the disabled list. When Céspedes steps into the batter's box, it generates an air of anticipation. And the moment is not too big for him, even when it's expectation of him that is creating it.

Céspedes hit a game-tying, two-run homer with one out in the ninth inning of the A's 9-8 win over the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon that sent the game into extra innings -- they won in 10 -- and helped the A's avoid a four-game sweep at home and a ninth loss in 10 games. It was Céspedes first game back from the 15-day DL with a strained muscle in his left hand, and his fifth at-bat of the day. In a 1-2 count, left-hander Brian Matusz threw a changeup down near the level of Céspedes' ankles, and he hit it into the bleachers in left.

"He's very impactful obviously, and that home run was kind of what he's all about," said manager Bob Melvin. "We need him in the lineup and he showed today why."

April 28, 2013
A's, Orioles lineups: Céspedes returns, Anderson to miss start

OAKLAND -- Yoenis Céspedes is back in Oakland and back in the cleanup spot for the A's today as they try to avoid a four-game sweep at home against the Baltimore Orioles. Céspedes was activated from the 15-day disabled list this morning; to make room on the 25-man roster, the A's designated outfielder Casper Wells for assignment.

Céspedes went 3-for-9 with a home run during his three-game rehab assignment with the Triple-A River Cats. He said this morning his left hand, where he strained a muscle April 12, is pain-free and that he "felt pretty well" hitting in Sacramento.

"Those games, I used them not only to hit, but to recognize the pitching," he said.

April 27, 2013
'Mr. October' speaks as A's honor 1973 World Series team

OAKLAND -- Reggie Jackson pulled up to the third-base dugout at the O.co Coliseum before today's game in the passenger's seat of a golf cart, wearing a gold jersey and an A's hat that he said he brought himself from home. But that's nothing, he said -- he has T-shirts of former A's teammates Vida Blue, Bert Campaneris, Catfish Hunter and Joe Rudi hanging up in his car shop.

"I wear my A's hat when I play golf," Jackson said. "I work for the Yankees and love the Yankees, but the A's are certainly a part of me that goes back forever."

On hand as the A's honored their 1973 World Series championship team, Jackson met with reporters for about 15 minutes before the pre-game ceremony. Players from the '73 team were introduced individually before the game and escorted to their former positions by current A's players. Josh Reddick walked to right field with Jackson, who later threw out the first pitch to former catcher and current broadcaster Ray Fosse.

Among the topics Jackson discussed was the number of African American players in the major leagues, which he termed: "Not very good. It's not very good, and I don't know why." Jackson said the rise of travel teams and private coaching that costs money may be a factor.

April 27, 2013
A's, Orioles lineups: '73 champs honored, Cespedes on track

OAKLAND -- The A's will honor the franchise's 1973 World Series championship team before their game this afternoon against the Orioles. Most of that team, including Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue, Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris and others, will be here for the pre-game on-field reunion.

"You can't help but just feel good being around world champions," said manager Bob Melvin, who grew up in the Bay Area following those mid-70's A's teams. "They're always there for a resource and picking their brain, and when you're around winners sometimes it rubs off."

The current A's could use a little of that. They've lost seven of their last eight games and were shut out last night by Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. It's right-hander Chris Tillman on the mound for Baltimore today, meaning the A's are going with their lefty-heavy lineup:

CF Crisp
C Jaso
DH Smith
SS Lowrie
1B Moss
3B Donaldson
RF Reddick
LF Young
2B Sogard

April 26, 2013
A's offense goes cold again in 3-0 loss; Doolittle honing slider

OAKLAND -- The A's offense has been a case of feast or famine this month, and Friday night they were starving. Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen gave up a Coco Crisp single and Nate Freiman double over eight innings, and Jed Lowrie hit a blooper off closer Jim Johnson that fell in for a double in the ninth inning of Oakland's 3-0 loss.

It was the sixth time already this season the A's have been held to one or zero runs -- a quarter of their games. And yet they ended the night still the highest-scoring team in all of baseball this season with 126 runs, three ahead of the Colorado Rockies. Take away a 13-0 win in Boston and the A's have scored a total of 17 runs in losing seven of their last eight games.

"We were very good early on and we've hit a dry spell at this point," said manager Bob Melvin. "There have been some games where we've been shut down. We have to find the consistency. We have the ability to do it. We're just in a little bit of a rut right now and we've got to fight our way out of it."

April 26, 2013
A's, Orioles lineups: Rosales at SS, Lowrie bumped to 2B

OAKLAND -- With Adam Rosales, fresh off the disabled list, in the A's lineup tonight against Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, Jed Lowrie has been defensively displaced. Lowrie, who has played exclusively shortstop since the beginning of the season, makes his first start at second base tonight with Rosales at short.

"The versatility of Jed probably works against him at times," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

Melvin said the decision tonight mostly comes down to Rosales being most comfortable at shortstop. Lowrie will still play some shortstop, Melvin said, such as when left-handed hitting Eric Sogard plays second base.

Lowrie, whose .365 batting average ranks third in the American League, said the move comes "a little out of the blue." He said he had talked with Melvin about possibly having to move, but he "didn't really expect it today."

April 26, 2013
San Diego series doubles as homecoming for Giants' Noonan

Giants road trips to San Diego in recent years have marked a return for manager Bruce Bochy to the city where he first managed a team to the World Series. This time it doubles as a homecoming for a Giants player who was a 9-year-old watching from the stands at Qualcomm Stadium as Bochy's Padres were swept in that series by the New York Yankees.

That's utility infielder Nick Noonan, who was born in Poway and graduated from Francis Parker High School in San Diego. Noonan said earlier this week that he "wasn't a diehard fan" of the Padres growing up, but he rooted for them as the hometown team.

"Me and my dad used to play wiffle ball and we'd go through the Padres lineup and bat like them, do their little antics," Noonan said. "Do the right-handers, go through (Tony) Gwynn's little bat wiggle. It was fun."

April 25, 2013
Vogt's torrid start for River Cats, plus SS Weeks, Straily solid

One day Stephen Vogt was preparing for a seventh season in the minor-league system of the Tampa Bay Rays, the organization that drafted him in 2007. The next he was traded to the Oakland A's for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Two days after that, on April 7, he debuted for the Triple-A River Cats.

Since then Vogt, the 28-year-old catcher, has done little else but hit, recording multiple hits in 10 of the first 14 games he played for Sacramento and entering Thursday's game against Salt Lake batting .492, the highest average in the Pacific Coast League.

Vogt, a career .299 hitter in the minors before this year, attributed his start in part to an emphasis this winter on his timing at the plate -- rather than swing mechanics -- after a mini "epiphany" in the second half of last season.

April 25, 2013
A's reinstate Rosales from DL; Céspedes in Sacramento

The A's welcome Adam Rosales back into the fold tonight as they return from a 1-5 East Coast road trip. Rosales, who began the season on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left intercostal muscle, was reinstated from the DL this afternoon. The A's optioned infielder Andy Parrino to Triple-A Sacramento to make room on the roster.

Rosales started his rehab with Single-A Stockton on April 17 and transferred to the River Cats on April 21. He went 2-for-13 in three games with the River Cats.

Outfielder Yoenis Céspedes begins a rehab stint tonight in Sacramento. Céspedes went on the DL on April 13 with a strained muscle in his left hand suffered when he slid into second base. He's eligible to come off the DL on Sunday.

The River Cats also added outfielder Michael Taylor to their roster after the A's optioned him earlier this week. Taylor was originally called up to replace Céspedes, and was sent back down after the A's acquired outfielder Casper Wells from Toronto.

-- Matt Kawahara

April 24, 2013
Another Giants comeback bid falls short, despite Belt's blast

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ultimately, the Giants' 6-4 loss to the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, a game that went 11 innings with plenty of twists and turns, came full circle in a way. On the first play of the game, sure-handed shortstop Brandon Crawford couldn't handle a tough hop off the bat of Gerardo Parra, who later scored. In the top of the 11th, two defensive lapses allowed the Diamondbacks to break a 4-4 tie on an unearned run.

That the game even got that far required another late-inning rally by the Giants, capped by another huge hit from Brandon Belt, who suddenly looks more like the spring version of himself than the one we've seen for the first three weeks of the season. The Giants in the 10th actually came within about 25 feet -- or the distance by which Cody Ross threw out Pablo Sandoval at home plate -- of winning the game on Hunter Pence's two-out hit.

"That's always a tough one to lose at home," manager Bruce Bochy said. "But you have to like the way they came back from being four runs down to tie that game. They had a great situation there, and we got a two-out base hit. They just made a great play there to throw out Pablo."

April 23, 2013
Tuesday's Giants, D-Backs lineups, plus pitching to pitchers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tonight's Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin is a career .098 (4-for-41) hitter with one extra-base hit, which probably won't strike fear into anybody -- except the Giants have had their hands full with opposing pitchers at the plate early this year.

Sure, it's a fluky statistic. But of the five home runs major-league pitchers have hit so far this season, the Giants have given up three of them, with Wade Miley's shot off Ryan Vogelsong last night the most recent. The others, of course, were Clayton Kershaw on opening day off George Kontos and Yovani Gallardo in Milwaukee off Matt Cain.

April 23, 2013
Comebacks keep coming, Belt comes through in 5-4 Giants win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Does this feel familiar? If the unofficial motto of last year's Giants was "never say die," it seems they've picked up right where they left off in October. Six of the Giants' 13 wins this season have been comeback victories, with the latest a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday night in which Ryan Vogelsong battled himself to last seven innings, Buster Posey further validated everybody's lack of concern over his early numbers and Brandon Belt came through with the game-winning hit hours after a crash hitting course with the manager.

After waiting until the 19th game of the season to hit his first home run since last October, Posey wasted little time hitting his second -- a two-run shot in the eighth inning Monday to straightaway center off David Hernandez that tied the game at 4-4. In the ninth, Belt, who started on the bench for the second consecutive game and entered in the top of the inning as a defensive replacement, came up with Andres Torres on second base and one out and lined a 1-1 fastball into left-center field for the game-winning single.

"There's no quit in this team, I can tell you that," Vogelsong said. "We fight to the last out. It's pretty fun to watch. There's a lot of confidence in this team."

April 22, 2013
Giants' Belt puts in early work, Dunston returns to the field

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt isn't in the Giants' lineup for the second consecutive day -- Joaquin Arias starts at first base against a left-hander -- but that didn't make it a day off for Belt. Belt was out taking early swings on the field along with catcher Hector Sanchez under the close watch of manager Bruce Bochy, who said yesterday the two had talked about Belt's early hitting struggles and that he plans to give Belt some days off against upcoming lefties.

"When things aren't necessarily going well, sometimes you've just got to put in a little bit of extra work, figure some stuff out so you can get yourself back on the field," Belt said.

Bochy said it's common for players to get early work two or three times a homestand, but that he was out with hitting coach Hensley Meulens to help Belt fix some issues with his timing. Belt is 11-for-60 (.183) to start the year with three extra-base hits, all doubles.

April 22, 2013
Giants, D-Backs lineups: Arias at first, Torres in left

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants, 8-1 in the N.L. West, welcome in the only division team they haven't played in the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight. True to his word yesterday, manager Bruce Bochy has Joaquin Arias starting at first base against lefty Wade Miley, rather than Brandon Belt. Andres Torres gets the start in left.

Here's the full Giants lineup:

CF Pagan
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
C Posey
RF Pence
1B Arias
LF Torres
SS Crawford
P Vogelsong

And the Diamondbacks against Vogelsong:

CF Parra
LF Prado
1B Goldschmidt
C Montero
RF Ross
3B Chavez
SS Gregorius
2B Pennington
P Miley

-- Matt Kawahara

April 21, 2013
Giant arms right the ship in weekend sweep of Padres

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before a pitch was thrown in this weekend's Giants-Padres series, manager Bruce Bochy was asked if too much was being made of his rotation's struggles during the prior road trip through Chicago and Milwaukee, when the starters combined for a 6.92 ERA in seven outings. Predictably, Bochy said of course there was, which now looks pretty smart from this end of the series.

The Giants polished off a sweep of the Padres this afternoon at AT&T Park behind seven shutout innings from Barry Zito, who has yet to allow a run in 21 innings at home on the season. The Giants shut out the Padres for the second day in a row, winning 5-0, and did not allow a run over the final 21 innings of the series.

Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Zito combined to give up two runs (both by Bumgarner) in 19 2/3 innings, and the bullpen chipped in 7 1/3 scoreless. All in all, a pretty successful weekend for a staff that was roughed up by the Brewers, before it shifts focus to the Arizona Diamondbacks starting tomorrow night.

"It's great," Zito said. "We definitely had a tough time in Milwaukee. But I think as a team we put that behind us and we came back and we were just ready to play."

April 21, 2013
Giants' Bochy sits down with Belt about early struggles

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he sat down with first baseman Brandon Belt for "a while" this morning to talk with Belt about his early struggles at the plate. After a torrid spring training, Belt is hitting .183 with no home runs and is 5 for his last 24. Likely contributing to the slow start was the stomach virus Belt caught before the opening series, which caused him to lose about 10 pounds and sapped his strength for a while.

"We talked for a while today, just about a couple things between Brandon and I, but part of it is it's natural for these guys to press a little bit and try to get hits," Bochy said. "You can't try to get hits in this game, you've just got to get a quality at-bat, try to get some good swings off, and good things happen."

Belt is not in the lineup today against Padres left-hander Eric Stults, with Joaquin Arias starting at first base. Bochy said that while it isn't a case of Belt being benched, he might give Belt a few more days off with the Giants facing more lefties in upcoming series.

April 21, 2013
Giants, Padres lineups: Arias, Torres in against left-hander

SAN FRANCISCO -- Looks like no lingering effects for Pablo Sandoval from the ball he fouled off his right ankle in the seventh inning last night. Sandoval is in today's lineup and playing third. Buster Posey will catch Barry Zito, who has not fared well recently against the Padres -- in his last 11 starts against San Diego, he's 1-7 with a 5.97 ERA.

Here's the Giants' lineup against Padres lefty Eric Stults:

CF Pagan
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
C Posey
RF Pence
1B Arias
LF Torres
SS Crawford
P Zito

And the Padres' lineup against Zito:

RF Denorfia
SS Cabrera
3B Headley
1B Guzman
2B Gyorko
LF Blanks
C Hundley
CF Venable
P Stults

Sandoval is 6-for-10 lifetime against Stults with two walks. Joaquin Arias, who gets the start today against the left-hander, also has pretty good career numbers against Stults -- 4-for-10 with a home run.

-- Matt Kawahara

April 20, 2013
Playing the aggressor, Lincecum has best start of early season

SAN FRANCISCO -- That the Giants were 3-0 in Tim Lincecum's starts this year before Saturday was as much a product of their scoring 24 runs in those games as anything else, twice bailing out the right-hander when he fell victim to the big inning that has haunted him insistently since the beginning of last year.

That was not the case Saturday night. Lincecum was sharp from the first inning in the Giants' 2-0 win over the Padres, he commanded his fastball well for most of the night and he avoided the lapses in focus that have contributed to those snowball innings. No pitch was bigger than the 3-1 fastball he threw to Chase Headley with the bases loaded and two outs in the third, which jammed Headley resulting in a groundout. That pitch is the focus of tomorrow's print story.

As for the other 94 pitches that Lincecum threw over his 6 2/3 shutout innings, there were few mistakes. Lincecum struck out a season-high eight and allowed four hits, all singles. It was the first time Lincecum has gone at least that far into a game without giving up a run since last July 14. The Giants, who are now 4-0 in his starts this season, recorded their fourth win in a Lincecum start last year on June 27.

April 20, 2013
Giants, Padres lineups: Late pitching scratch prompts a shuffle

SAN FRANCISCO -- For his 25th birthday, Brandon Belt got a surprise start against the Padres this evening. Belt wasn't in the Giants' original lineup against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard -- Joaquin Arias had the start at first. But the Padres scratched Richard with illness and will start right-hander Andrew Cashner instead. So the Giants shuffled their lineup, with Belt replacing Arias and Gregor Blanco starting in left field instead of Andres Torres.

"Sure they're thinking they're facing somebody, but (the Padres) made the change before batting practice," manager Bruce Bochy said of his hitters. "They know who they're facing, so it's not really an adjustment."

Word from the Padres media contingent is that Cashner, who has been pitching in relief, probably won't throw more than about 60 pitches. So it'll most likely be a bullpen game for San Diego. Arias and Torres will likely get starts tomorrow, with the Padres throwing left-hander Eric Stults.

Here's the full Giants lineup:

CF Pagan
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
C Posey
RF Pence
SS Crawford
1B Belt
LF Blanco
P Lincecum

And the Padres' lineup against Lincecum:

April 20, 2013
Torres atones, Pagan delivers, Bumgarner shines in Giants' win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Standing on first base, Andres Torres was not happy with himself. His pinch-hit sacrifice attempt had bounced straight to Padres reliever Luke Gregerson, who wheeled and threw to second base to force out Gregor Blanco. It nullified Blanco's single leading off the ninth in a 2-2 game. Torres turned to confer with first-base coach Roberto Kelly, who told him: "Try to get a good jump, and go."

PAGAN.jpg"You want to get your job done," Torres said. "But then it was like, forget about that, try to get a good jump and get in scoring position."

Torres took off on the second pitch of the at-bat. Padres catcher Nick Hundley's throw was off line and a little high, and Torres slid in safely with his first stolen base of the season. The next pitch, Angel Pagan (pictured, left, off-balance as No. 48 Pablo Sandoval and other teammates celebrate with him) lined a 2-0 slider to right field to drive in Torres and snap the Giants' three-game losing streak.

"We needed it," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We got a bad bunt, but Torres, that's a clutch steal there for us."

April 19, 2013
Bochy not sweating rotation struggles, Posey to catch Timmy

SAN FRANCISCO -- Small sample size alert: The Giants' starting rotation, in 16 games this season, currently owns a 5.07 ERA that is the highest in the National League (though that's still a full run lower than the ERA of the Los Angeles Angels' rotation -- ouch). If you factor out Madison Bumgarner's three starts, in which Bumgarner has allowed four earned runs in 20 1/3 innings, that number jumps to 5.99.

Manager Bruce Bochy was asked about this before tonight's game against the Padres and, predictably, said it's much too early to start worrying about the rotation (Barry Zito has the second-lowest ERA at 4.86 in his three starts; the three right-handers are all at 5.63 or above, with Matt Cain's 7.15 rounding it out).

"I think too much is made of a lot of things at this stage," Bochy said. "And you know you're going to have guys with slow starts, whether it's a player or a pitcher.

"Once you get into May, maybe early June, if you have concerns then, that's when you should have them."

April 19, 2013
Giants, Padres lineups: Bumgarner as stopper, get here early

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fresh off his Miller Park romp in which he went 7-for-12 with two home runs in three games against the Brewers, shortstop Brandon Crawford slots sixth in the Giants' lineup tonight against the Padres with Buster Posey returning to the cleanup spot. Brandon Belt is seventh, followed by Gregor Blanco.

Crawford may be sad to leave Milwaukee. The rest of the Giants couldn't get out of there fast enough. It falls to Madison Bumgarner tonight to halt the Giants' three-game losing streak. It's a role the lefty knows well. Bumgarner made 20 of his 32 starts last season on the heels of a Giants loss (most on the staff by six) and went 10-6 in those games, while the Giants were 12-8.

So far this season, due to Matt Cain's struggles and Clayton Kershaw's dominance on opening day, all three of Bumgarner's starts have come after a loss. He's 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA. So the Giants must feel like they have the right guy going.

Here's the Giants lineup that will face Padres right-hander Edinson Volquez tonight:

April 17, 2013
Melvin: A's 'hitting on all cylinders' as they hit the road

OAKLAND -- The A's, it's fair to say, are rolling right now, as they depart for their first East Coast road trip owners of the American League's best record at 12-4 and winners of 12 of their last 14 games.

Of course, six of those wins have come against the Houston Astros, whom many pundits have picked to lose 100 games -- at least -- in their first season in the American League West. The A's finished off their second three-game sweep already this year of the Astros with a 7-5 win on Wednesday in which they knocked Houston's opening day starter, Bud Norris, out of the game with six runs in the first inning.

So, it was asked of manager Bob Melvin, what to make of the A's early record? Is it more a reflection of their play or their early schedule?

April 17, 2013
Lineups for Runnin' A's, Astros, plus Griffin's selective memory

OAKLAND -- With four stolen bases in last night's 4-3 win over the Astros, the A's now lead the majors in that category with 15 in their first 15 games. Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Chris Young share the team lead with four apiece. Young had one of the massive jumps the A's got last night against both starter Brad Peacock and Houston's relievers, where it seemed like they were a third of the way down the line before the pitcher made his first movement.

It was suggested to manager Bob Melvin this morning that the A's must have noticed something on the basepaths to get such jumps. Melvin kind of suppressed a smile and answered: "Yep." He was more expansive when asked what makes him confident in turning his players loose on the bases.

"We'll steal when the opportunity is there and we'll run a little bit more maybe if we're not swinging the bats as well," Melvin said. "I think the double-steal (in the fourth inning Tuesday night) was really important in the fact that now all of a sudden there's a wild pitch and we score a run without a hit. Now it's 2-1, we're no longer being shut out, and it felt like a different situation.

April 16, 2013
Peterson flashes leather in debut, rescues Griffin in A's 4-3 win

OAKLAND -- Shane Peterson admitted this wasn't how he envisioned his hitting line in his major-league debut: 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. And yet pitcher A.J. Griffin said he thought Peterson was the "player of the game" in the A's 4-3 win over the Astros at the Coliseum on Tuesday night. And Eric Sogard, who had three hits, was left talking about how Peterson made the "biggest play of the game."

The play came in the top of the third, with Griffin struggling uncharacteristically with his command and the Astros looking to build on a 2-0 lead. With the bases loaded and two outs, Rick Ankiel yanked a pitch down the first-base line that appeared headed for the right-field corner. Had it gotten there, it might have cleared the bases. Instead, Peterson, playing first base in Brandon Moss' absence, dove to his left and made a backhand stab of the ball, robbing Ankiel and ending the inning.

"They had something brewing right there," Griffin said. "He came up huge and we got the momentum back in our dugout. So that was a huge play."

April 16, 2013
Peterson to debut tonight for A's, plus starting lineups

OAKLAND -- Brad and Sue Peterson have had quite the busy week and a half. First the Temecula, Calif., residents were in Sacramento to see their son Shane open the season with the Triple-A River Cats. Then, when it appeared A's first baseman Brandon Moss might go on the paternity list April 4, they hopped a flight to Houston, where Shane was headed in case the A's needed to replace Moss on the active roster. Only Moss' wife did not go into labor, and Moss returned the next day, meaning Shane was never officially called up.

Peterson returned to Sacramento and his parents returned home until this morning, when Moss was officially placed on the paternity list and Peterson officially called up. They hopped in the car, Peterson said, and made the drive up to Oakland, where Peterson is in the A's lineup tonight, batting eighth and playing first base in his major-league debut.

"It's been a long few travels for them," Peterson said with a grin. "But obviously it's worth it for them."

April 16, 2013
Thoughts in Boston, Freiman belts first homer to key A's win

OAKLAND -- Nate Freiman muscled up on a 1-2 first-inning curveball from Erik Bedard for his first major-league home run Monday night while carrying a weight of melancholy on the shoulders of his 6-foot-8 frame.

Freiman, who attended Wellesley High School outside Boston, Mass., said he learned of the bombings at Monday's Boston Marathon via a phone call from family members who still live in the area, so he knew immediately they were all right. But the events of the day continued to occupy his thoughts even after the rookie's three-run homer keyed the A's 11-2 win over the Houston Astros at the Coliseum.

"I grew up in Wellesley, which is the halfway point of the marathon," Freiman said. "Every year we'd go down and watch the runners go by. We used to have season tickets to the Red Sox in the early 90s, and we'd go to the Patriots Day game, the 11 a.m. game, and sit really close to home.

April 15, 2013
Struggling Reddick gets night off as A's open Astros series

OAKLAND -- The A's starting lineup had a different look tonight for the series opener against the Houston Astros -- and not just because every player is wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. Coco Crisp is back in center field after missing two games with a strained left groin. Josh Reddick is out after a rough series against Detroit in which he went 1-for-13 with seven strikeouts.

Manager Bob Melvin said this isn't a normal day off for Reddick. For one thing, he's still just a week removed from spraining his right wrist in Houston, so Melvin doesn't want to play him too many days in a row. But Melvin also said Reddick is "not swinging his best right now," and with the Astros starting a left-hander tonight in Erik Bedard, it provided a chance to rest Reddick, who could still pinch hit.

April 14, 2013
After another rough start, A's Parker says he's 'just a tick away'

OAKLAND -- Jarrod Parker made it through just 3 1/3 innings and allowed nine hits for the second consecutive start Sunday. The difference from his last one -- when he gave up just two runs in Anaheim -- was the Detroit Tigers made him pay with a career-high eight runs allowed in the A's 10-1 loss at the Coliseum.

Parker had a rocky spring and has not fared much better in his three regular-season starts. His ERA is currently at 10.80, and he has allowed 23 hits in 11 2/3 innings. In addition, as manager Bob Melvin noted, Parker has walked eight and recorded just four strikeouts, a year after he led the A's with 140 strikeouts in 181 1/3 innings.

"I'm just a tick away, I feel like," Parker said. "It's something where I've just got to keep working hard and not dwell too much on what's done is done."

What exactly is troubling Parker, though, seems tough to pinpoint. Against the Angels, he said his fastball command was poor. It was better Sunday, but Parker said he "didn't have much off-speed today," all the more reason for the Tigers to key on the fastball -- which they did, including several that Parker left up in the zone.

April 14, 2013
A's, Tigers lineups as Parker tries to 'right the ship' today

OAKLAND -- It hasn't been the smoothest of starts for Jarrod Parker, who set the Oakland rookie record for wins last season with 13. Parker is 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA in his first two starts and didn't get out of the fourth last time in Los Angeles, allowing nine hits in 3 1/3 innings. Parker goes today against the Detroit Tigers, whom he faced twice in the ALDS last year, pitching into the seventh both times but having the misfortune of opposing Justin Verlander.

Manager Bob Melvin said this morning he isn't concerned about Parker's early going, and "we're probably talking about this because it's more of a rarity when he is off his game, as far as where he's throwing the ball. I know he's excited about getting back out here and righting the ship and getting back into a routine and a rhythm that we're used to seeing."

Parker did not have a stretch of three consecutive starts of fewer than six innings at any point last season, so he'll try to avoid making that a first today. Here's the lineup the A's will have behind him, with Coco Crisp (groin) out again:

April 13, 2013
A's can't solve Verlander, see nine-game winning streak end

OAKLAND -- Likely not many members of the current A's clubhouse would remember the last time the team beat Justin Verlander. Not many of them were around. It was April 16, 2011, and Oakland defeated the Detroit Tigers, 6-2, to hand Verlander his second loss. He finished the season 24-5 and won the Cy Young and MVP awards.

Verlander has faced the A's six times since then, including last year's Division Series and today's 7-3 Tigers win at the Coliseum, and his line against them has been nothing short of masterful: 6-0, 43 innings, 20 hits, 47 strikeouts, 0.63 ERA. If you don't want to do the math, that's three earned runs allowed in the six starts.

"Anytime he steps on the mound he's going to have his game," said A's catcher Derek Norris, who drove in the lone run off Verlander today with a single in the second inning. "Unfortunately for us, his game seems to fit pretty well with our lineup."

April 13, 2013
A's place Cespedes (hand) on 15-day DL, recall Taylor

OAKLAND -- The A's today find themselves in exactly the position they were preparing for by bringing in Chris Young over the offseason for outfield depth -- though it's certainly much earlier than they were hoping to need him.

The A's this morning placed Yoenis Céspedes on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his left hand suffered on an awkward slide during last night's 4-3 win over the Detroit Tigers. Michael Taylor was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento.

Céspedes hurt himself sliding into second base in the eighth inning Friday night. He had an MRI this morning that showed the strain, manager Bob Melvin said.

"Hopefully (15 days is) the timetable for it," Melvin said. "We want to make sure he's 100 percent healthy when he gets back.

April 13, 2013
Crisp, Cespedes not in lineup today vs. Verlander

OAKLAND - Coco Crisp and Yoenis Céspedes are both out of the A's lineup today against Tigers ace Justin Verlander after leaving last night's game with injuries. Crisp exited in the 10th inning with a strained groin, and Céspedes left in the 11th with a left hand injury. We'll ask for updates on both from manager Bob Melvin later this morning.

This is the sort of scenario the A's were girding for when they assembled their five-man outfield. Chris Young will start in center field, his natural position, with Seth Smith making his second start of the season in left.

Here's the full lineup the A's will send out against Verlander:

DH Jaso

CF Young

RF Reddick

1B Moss

LF Smith

3B Donaldson

2B Sogard

C Norris

SS Parrino

April 13, 2013
Crisp, Cespedes hurt as A's notch first walk-off win of 2013

OAKLAND -- The A's extended their winning streak to nine games with their first walk-off win of the season -- after leading the majors with 14 last season -- but saw two of their starting outfielders leave the 12-inning 4-3 win over the Tigers with injuries.

Coco Crisp was replaced in center field in the 10th inning after sustaining what the A's announced was a strained left groin. Yoenis Céspedes left the game an inning later with a left hand injury on which X-rays were negative.

Céspedes was hurt on an awkward slide into second base in the eighth. After he walked with two outs, Céspedes was caught stealing second and appeared to jam his left thumb area tumbling into the base. He knelt on the infield dirt for several minutes while a trainer came out to check on him before staying in the game. He was pinch-hit for in the 11th inning.

"We'll see how he is tomorrow," said manager Bob Melvin.

April 12, 2013
Reddick receives Gold Glove, returns to A's lineup

OAKLAND -- Josh Reddick said he appreciated the timing of his return to the A's lineup tonight, though it wasn't planned. Reddick, who missed the last three games with a right wrist sprain, received his 2012 Gold Glove on the field before the A's played the Detroit Tigers and then returned to the outfield for the first time since crashing into a wall in Houston in the series finale against the Astros.

The occasion was particularly special for Reddick in that eight members of his family -- or "7 1/2," as he put it -- were on hand from Georgia to see their first game in Oakland since the right fielder joined the A's last season. They included his parents, Kenny and Cheryl, his grandparents, his brother and his infant niece (the 1/2). Reddick said they arrived a few hours before the game after being delayed overnight in Atlanta.

April 12, 2013
Live Chat replay: Matt Kawahara discusses early success of Giants, A's

See the replay of our live chat featuring Matt Kawahara, The Bee's baseball beat writer, discussing the Giants and A's and their early-season success.


April 10, 2013
Giants notes: On Lincecum's 'strange' night, Crawford's homer

SAN FRANCISCO -- This was probably Bruce Bochy's best line tonight in talking about what he termed a "strange" outing for Tim Lincecum: "Unfortunately, all the innings count."

Lincecum was pretty good for five innings in the Giants' 9-6 win over the Rockies, making one mistake that Troy Tulowitzki hit for a home run but allowing only two other runners to reach base and striking out six. He was also very erratic in one, a five-run second that snowballed largely due to three walks, one of them to the opposing pitcher with two outs after getting into a 1-2 count.

So what to make of Lincecum's night? Bochy chose to focus mainly on the positives.

April 9, 2013
Bochy on Lincecum-Sanchez pairing, plus Romo on sharp start

SAN FRANCISCO -- Buster Posey gets his first day off of the season tonight with Tim Lincecum starting, so manager Bruce Bochy knew what direction his pre-game media session was headed. With the Giants playing a day game tomorrow, Bochy said Posey was going to get either tonight or tomorrow off, and with the Giants facing a left-hander tomorrow it made more sense for Posey to rest tonight.

"It's just the way it falls this time," Bochy said.

That said, Bochy did not rule out a scenario down the road where Hector Sanchez could become Lincecum's regular catcher, if the two develop chemistry. Sanchez often caught Lincecum's starts last year -- leading to the speculation of a Lincecum-Posey rift that all parties involved have spent plenty of time refuting -- and has been behind the plate for both Lincecum starts this season.

April 9, 2013
Tuesday's Giants lineup: Posey off, Scutaro in

SAN FRANCISCO -- Buster Posey gets a night off tonight, while Marco Scutaro stays in the lineup as he tries to work through his timing issues at the plate. Hector Sanchez will catch Tim Lincecum as the Giants try to make it eight in a row against the Rockies. Bruce Bochy had said he intended to give Posey a rest day either tonight or tomorrow.

Here's the Giants' lineup:

CF Pagan
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
RF Pence
1B Belt
LF Blanco
C Sanchez
SS Crawford
P Linceucm

And the Rockies' lineup against Lincecum:

CF Fowler
2B Rutledge
LF Gonzalez
SS Tulowitzki
RF Cuddyer
1B Helton
C Rosario
3B Nelson
P Nicasio

Helton starts after getting last night off (he pinch hit in the ninth and struck out). The veteran has pretty good numbers lifetime against Lincecum: 14-for-39 with a home run, nine walks and six strikeouts.

-- Matt Kawahara

April 9, 2013
Giants notes: Posey in the RBI column, Bumgarner grinds it out

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy is being pretty open about the fact that his team is "not clicking offensively" right now, which until the eighth inning of Monday night's 4-2 win over the Rockies included reigning N.L. MVP Buster Posey.

Posey, who entered the game 4-for-20, came up in the first inning with two on and struck out ahead of Hunter Pence's three-run homer. In a similar situation in the eighth, though, he waited on an 0-2 breaking ball from Chris Volstad and lined it into right field to give the Giants a welcome insurance run.

It was the first RBI of the season for Posey, who collected 103 of them last year and didn't once go six games without one, as he had to start this season.

"I hadn't been letting the ball travel the first three at-bats (Monday)," Posey said. "So it was nice to pick up another run there going into the ninth."

April 8, 2013
Scutaro searching for his timing to start season

SAN FRANCISCO -- Marco Scutaro was so consistently good at the plate after joining the Giants last season, batting .362 in 61 games down the stretch and seemingly hitting everything within reach in the postseason, that it was easy to forget he -- like all hitters -- could be prone to a slump.

"It's amazing how consistent he was," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Probably spoiled us a little bit."

Scutaro is 2-for-23 with a pair of singles to start the season, and while it's still very early, he acknowledged before tonight's game against the Cardinals that he's working through some issues with his swing.

"My timing's off," Scutaro said. "My swing's not there right now."

April 8, 2013
Monday lineups: Giants vs. Rockies

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy said after yesterday's 14-3 loss that while the offense is still sputtering for the Giants, he wasn't planning any big lineup changes. True to form, here's the Giants' lineup for tonight's game against the Colorado Rockies. Andres Torres gets the start in left against left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. Otherwise, it'll look familiar:

CF Pagan
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
C Posey
RF Pence
1B Belt
LF Torres
SS Crawford
P Bumgarner

And the Rockies' lineup against Bumgarner:

RF Young
CF Fowler
LF Gonzalez
SS Tulowitzki
1B Cuddyer
2B Rutledge
3B Nelson
C Torrealba
P De La Rosa

April 7, 2013
Cain takes rough outing in stride on otherwise memorable day

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday afternoon began in a wave of nostalgia and celebration for the Giants, as the members of the 2012 team -- meaning the majority of the current club, plus Aubrey Huff -- received their World Series rings. It ended on an uplifting note, too, with Brandon Belt collecting his first hit of the season, Nick Noonan his first as a big-leaguer and Guillermo Quiroz his first as a Giant.

Everything in between for the Giants was pretty forgettable.

The Cardinals racked up 14 runs on 15 hits and tagged Matt Cain for nine runs in a fourth inning that would not end. Cain -- staff ace, owner of a perfect game and nine-figure contract, fresh off a start in which he threw six scoreless innings against the Dodgers on opening day -- matched his career high for runs allowed and became the second starter in franchise history (and first since 1902) to allow a nine-spot in one inning.

"It's baseball," said outfielder Hunter Pence. "You see a lot of stuff happen the longer you play."

April 7, 2013
Giants receive World Series rings in pre-game ceremony

IMG_0282.jpgSAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Bruce Bochy said before today's game at AT&T Park that he probably would never wear two World Series rings at the same time. But now he could if he wanted to.

The Giants wrapped up their opening-weekend festivities today by receiving their 2012 World Series rings in an on-field ceremony before playing their series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The ring, designed by Tiffany & Co., is white gold and depicts the Giants' SF logo in 52 round melee diamonds on the face, according to a Giants news release. There are also seven round diamonds representing the franchise's seven World Series titles. One side of the ring features the recipient's name, uniform number and a cable car design, while the other denotes the Giants' 2012 postseason victories, including their four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

MLB_Giants_ring.V6_021313.jpg

April 7, 2013
Ring day at AT&T Park, plus Giants and Cardinals lineups

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt said he spent most of the Giants' ring ceremony in 2011 watching from the dugout or waiting around the clubhouse. Belt was a rookie then and didn't want to impose when he hadn't been around for the 2010 World Series run. This time he'll be a full-fledged participant when the Giants receive their 2012 World Series rings before today's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It was hard to sleep last night," Belt said. "I thought about it a lot."

IMG_0280.jpg

About an hour before the ceremony, four large blue boxes were carried out to the third-base line and placed on a white table. They apparently contain the Giants' rings, which Belt and manager Bruce Bochy both said they hadn't seen yet. (We have seen the replica rings being given away to fans at the park today -- they're pretty hefty).

April 6, 2013
Vogelsong: Pitches were OK, results not so much in first start

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong wasn't too discouraged about his outing today in the Giants' 6-3 loss to the Cardinals. He gave up nine hits, but all were singles. Three of them didn't leave the infield. Vogelsong said he thought the full-count pitch that Carlos Beltran dumped into shallow right for an RBI single in the first broke Beltran's bat. And if Allen Craig's grounder in the fifth isn't just out of Pablo Sandoval's diving reach, he's out of that inning before Beltran delivers a big two-run single.

"Just didn't make enough pitches is what it comes down to," Vogelsong said. "Got into a situation there in the fifth where I just really needed to make one more pitch. It felt like the pitches weren't all that bad, but the results weren't all that good."

Manager Bruce Bochy agreed that Vogelsong caught a tough break with Craig's single. Brandon Crawford might have had a play on the ball -- though it was hit slowly -- but it's Sandoval's ball if he can get to it.

April 6, 2013
A day for Buster Posey, plus lineups for Giants and Cardinals

SAN FRANCISCO - Buster Posey didn't really have a role in Friday's flag-raising ceremonies: While they were happening, he was warming up starting pitcher Barry Zito. Today, though, the pre-game festivities will be all about Posey, who will be presented with his 2012 N.L. Most Valuable Player award in a ceremony scheduled to include past Giants MVP winners.

POSEY.JPG"Special day for Buster," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's a special player. ... I've been fortunate to have been doing this for a while and managed some great players. But he's as good as I've had, and I think we're all going to enjoy watching this ceremony."

Meanwhile, fans are filing into the park carrying their Buster Posey bobblehead dolls. Posey (pictured) is the seventh Giant to win the MVP Award. The Giants have announced past recipients Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Jeff Kent and Kevin Mitchell will take part in the ceremony. Posey was surprised to learn of that yesterday.

"That's really cool," he said.

Posey is catching Ryan Vogelsong today. He has started four of the Giants' five games at catcher and the other at first base when Brandon Belt was too sick to play. Posey caught in 114 games last year coming off his ankle injury, and Bochy said today the plan is still to keep Posey around that number this year, though that could change.

April 5, 2013
Zito asserts himself, and the Giants react to raising another flag

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig entered Friday's game with a career line of 4-for-10 against Barry Zito with three home runs. Two of those home runs came in one game last Aug. 7. They remain the only two runs Zito has allowed in his last three starts against St. Louis.

Zito, of course, threw 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS last year and, on Friday, tossed seven shutout innings as the Giants won their AT&T Park opener over St. Louis, 1-0. Craig had two singles. The rest of the Cardinals hitters totaled one hit -- Jon Jay's single to lead off the game -- and three walks.

Afterward, Zito wouldn't claim any particular effectiveness against St. Louis. "I would never say I have anyone's number," he said. "This game's too crazy and too volatile to ever get up on my haunches like that."

But Zito did seem to pick up right where he left off in the playoffs last year, mixing his mid-80s fastball with his cutter and variety of soft stuff to create weak contact from the Cardinals' hitters. He struck out Carlos Beltran in the third inning with this five-pitch sequence: 75 mph changeup, 80 mph cutter, 76 mph changeup, 71 mph curveball, 84 mph fastball. Beltran swung through the last pitch.

April 5, 2013
On the Giants rotation's historic start to the season

SAN FRANCISCO -- A quick note on the historic start to this season by the Giants' starting rotation -- with Barry Zito's seven shutout innings in the Giants' 1-0 win over the Cardinals in their home opener Friday, the rotation has now thrown 26 innings in its first four games without allowing an earned run. (The Dodgers scored two unearned runs against Tim Lincecum in the finale of that series Wednesday).

The Giants are only the second team since 1916 to have their starters not allow an earned run in the first four games of the season, according to the team's post-game notes. Can you name the other?

April 5, 2013
Zito's hot streak continues in Giants' home-opener win

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

SAN FRANCISCO - Giants manager Bruce Bochy said it would be only natural if Barry Zito made his first start Friday on a bit of an emotional high - what with it also being the team's home opener - and he hoped the left-hander would "keep his concentration out there."

After Jon Jay's leadoff single for St. Louis, Zito allowed just two more hits over seven innings as the Giants beat the Cardinals 1-0 in front of an announced crowd of 41,581 at AT&T Park.

Zito didn't seem bothered much before or during the game.

During an extended ceremony in which the Giants raised their 2012 World Series championship flag, Zito seemed oblivious while playing long toss and warming up in the bullpen.

Zito threw his first three pitches for balls, allowed a leadoff single and then snapped right back into the 2012 form that made him a major reason the Giants had a banner to raise Friday afternoon.

Zito threw 102 pitches and left the mound after the seventh to a standing ovation and chants of "Bar-ry! "Bar-ry!" He allowed three singles and three walks and did not allow a runner to reach second base until there were two outs in the seventh.

The Giants' starting rotation has not allowed an earned run yet this season, a span of 26 innings. Dating back to last season, it was the 15th consecutive game the Giants won in which Zito started.

That streak, of course, included Zito's memorable start in Game 5 of the NLCS in St. Louis. With the Giants one loss from elimination, Zito blanked the Cardinals over 7 2 / 3 innings to send the series back to San Francisco.

On Friday, Zito kept the Cardinals in check with his mid-80s fastball by mixing in cutters and his signature curveball and struck out four. Jeremy Affeldt threw a scoreless eighth inning and Sergio Romo struck out Allen Craig looking to end the game.

It was the second shutout for the Giants in four games this season.

Despite the win, the Giants' continue to struggle to hit with runners in scoring position. They loaded the bases in both the third and fourth innings but scored their lone run in the fourth when Angel Pagan drew a bases-loaded walk with one out.

Marco Scutaro (1 for 15 this season) then struck out and Pablo Sandoval grounded out to end the threat. The Giants also put a runner on second in the sixth and seventh innings and failed to drive him in.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

April 5, 2013
With team effort, Giants hoist championship banner

Cardinals Giants Baseball.jpgSAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy predicted there might be some "goosebumps" for his team during today's pre-game ceremonies at AT&T Park, which included the raising of the Giants' 2012 World Series championship banner.

"It's so special seeing the flag go up and, again, realize you are the world champions," Bochy said.

Turned out the manager had a good view from center field as six of his players raised the orange-and-black flag prior to the Giants' home opener against the Cardinals. Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Sergio Romo and Ryan Vogelsong all helped carry the banner up the center-field bleachers and to the flagpole in right-center.

The roughly 45-minute festivities began with introductions of both teams. For St. Louis, assistant hitting coach and former Giants catcher Bengie Molina received a loud round of applause from the AT&T Park crowd. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday, who took out Marco Scutaro with a hard slide on this field in last year's NLCS, were roundly booed.

April 5, 2013
Back at AT&T, Matheny reminded of 'how things ended' for St. Louis

SAN FRANCISCO -- It was raining last time Mike Matheny stood in the visiting dugout at AT&T Park. Marco Scutaro looked up into that rain and caught Matt Holliday's pop-up for the final out of the NLCS, and the St. Louis Cardinals watched the Giants celebrate a pennant from which Matheny's club had been one win away.

MATHENY.jpegMatheny (left) and the Cardinals are back in San Francisco for the opening series at AT&T, and there will be reminders of that series everywhere this week. Today the Giants raise their World Series championship flag. Sunday, they'll get their rings. This morning, Matheny was asked if it stings a little to be on hand for the pomp.

"Just coming back here is a good reminder of how things ended for us," Matheny said. "I think everyone has a great deal of respect for the Giants organization and the team last year. But we also respect the fact that we felt we could've put a better finish on it than we did. So it's certainly a good reminder of what has happened, and a good challenge for what's ahead."

April 4, 2013
Lincecum gives 'gutty' effort as Giants take round one in L.A.

LOS ANGELES -- The Giants arrived at Dodger Stadium this week having sat through a winter's worth of outside talk about their standing pat vs. the Dodgers' free spending, the comparative qualities of their pitching staffs, the revitalization of one of baseball's oldest rivalries. They head home with a record of 2-1, after Tim Lincecum avoided the pitfalls of a strange, shaky start Wednesday night and several members of the Giants' bullpen delivered clutch outings in a 5-3 win.

"It is really satisfying for us," Lincecum said of taking the opening series in L.A. "We wanted to come in here and make a statement.

"Coming in the first series after winning the World Series, a lot of guys were looking forward to this series. I know I was personally. We took it to heart and left it out there on the field."

April 3, 2013
Giants: No Belt, Posey at 1B for series finale in L.A.

Update 6:25 p.m.: Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the plan was for Buster Posey to catch Tim Lincecum tonight, but with Brandon Belt still not fully recovered from his stomach virus, he decided to start Posey at first base and get Hector Sanchez his first start of the season behind the plate.

Bochy said the last reports of Sanchez's games in minor-league camp -- Sanchez was battling a shoulder issue for the latter part of spring and stayed behind for recovery when the Giants played their exhibition games against Oakland in the Bay Area -- were that Sanchez was "throwing well, swinging the bat, catching, blocking. So he's good to go."

Not so much for Belt, who said he's feeling a little better and no longer nauseous but still not back to normal. Sounds like it was a pretty unpleasant bug that he caught. Bochy said he wanted to rest Belt and make sure he's back to normal for Friday's home opener.

Also, briefly, Bochy said he can't really call Pablo Sandoval (elbow) day-to-day anymore after watching Sandoval play the first two games of the series. Sandoval had two hits off Clayton Kershaw on opening day and made a couple nice defensive plays last night to his backhand side, throwing across the diamond. Bochy said the Giants will still monitor Sandoval's workload early in the season, "but I think he's past that."

LOS ANGELES -- No pressure on Tim Lincecum tonight, but here we are in the third game of the season and he could still become the first Giants starting pitcher to allow a run in 2013. Matt Cain threw six shutout innings on opening day and Madison Bumgarner blanked the Dodgers for eight innings last night, marking just the third time since 1958 that Giants starters have thrown at least six shutout innings in back-to-back games to start the season.

Lincecum was part of the last one in 2010, when he and Barry Zito turned in a pair of scoreless outings against the Houston Astros. (The other was John Burkett and Bill Swift in 1994 against the Pirates). Going back to 1921, according to STATS LLC, the Giants have never had this happen three games in a row.

Here's the lineup the Giants will run out behind Lincecum. After saying earlier this week (and repeating last night) that Buster Posey would catch all three games of this series -- including Lincecum's start -- Bruce Bochy has Posey playing first base. It could be that Brandon Belt is still too sick to play -- we'll ask. Gregor Blanco, meanwhile, gets his first start of the season in left field and Hector Sanchez will catch Lincecum.

CF Pagan
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
1B Posey
RF Pence
C Sanchez
LF Blanco
SS Crawford
P Lincecum

And here's what Lincecum will be facing from the Dodgers:

April 3, 2013
Giants: 'A lot of optimism' for Lincecum ahead of first start

LOS ANGELES -- Even after his mini-renaissance last October as a lights-out reliever, a key part of the Giants' march to a World Series title, manager Bruce Bochy said there was no question of whether Tim Lincecum would rejoin the starting rotation in 2013. It was such a foregone conclusion that the topic wasn't even broached before the Giants reconvened in Arizona this spring.

TIMMY.jpeg"There was never any discussion about making a change," Bochy said Tuesday. "He's a starter for us right now, and that's how we look at it."

"I think," Lincecum said, "it was just more known than anything."

In that case, Lincecum has had ample time to anticipate tonight's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, his first start since last Oct. 18 in Game 4 of the NLCS. Like Lincecum's 2012 season, that outing was tumultuous. He departed in the fifth inning of an 8-3 loss, and pitched again in the playoffs only in relief.

April 2, 2013
Giants: Bumgarner throws gem, helps himself; Arias pitches in

LOS ANGELES -- Madison Bumgarner said it was "pretty weird" waiting in the on-deck circle while the Dodgers made a pitching change ahead of his spot in the lineup Tuesday night. Out went lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, in came right-hander Ronald Belisario, and up went Bumgarner to take his at-bat with runners on second and third in a 1-0 game.

"No," manager Bruce Bochy said with a scoff when asked if he considered pinch-hitting for his starter. "The way he was throwing the ball there wasn't one thought. I don't take a starter out that's given up one hit and is throwing the ball the way he is in that situation.

"Plus he's a guy that can handle the bat a little bit. He got a hit earlier and I was hoping he could find a way to put the ball in play, and he did."

April 2, 2013
Giants: Belt down with sickness; Lincecum excited for start

LOS ANGELES -- Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is being held out of the lineup tonight with a virus. Belt, who has been battling a bug for the past few days, was told to take the later bus to Dodger Stadium and got treatment from the Giants' staff when he arrived at the stadium this afternoon.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Belt would likely be available to pinch-hit tonight if needed. That could change depending on how Belt, who arrived at the stadium looking pretty drained, feels at game time. Belt was under the weather Monday as well when he went 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts in the Giants' opening day loss.

"It's a shame, really," Bochy said. "He's coming off a great spring and starts the season sick. He was really not feeling well yesterday. Looking back I probably should've given him the day yesterday. He's been washed out for a couple days now."

April 2, 2013
Giants' Belt-less lineup against Dodgers' Ryu

LOS ANGELES -- The Giants' lineup has one change from yesterday -- Joaquin Arias will start at first base instead of Brandon Belt. The Dodgers are throwing a lefty in Hyun-Jin Ryu (the rookie from South Korea, who will make his major-league debut). But the San Jose Mercury News is reporting Belt was sick yesterday as well.

Otherwise the lineup will look familiar. Pablo Sandoval obviously came away from the game OK, as he's back in at third base.

CF Pagan
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
C Posey
RF Pence
1B Arias
LF Torres
SS Crawford
P Bumgarner

April 1, 2013
Giants: Opening day runs gamut for Kontos, Sandoval, Cain

1.jpegLOS ANGELES -- George Kontos said he couldn't tell right away if the ball left Clayton Kershaw's bat with enough on it to clear the fence in the deepest part of Dodger Stadium. When it disappeared over the center-field wall, though, the Giants' reliever said he wasn't altogether surprised.

"It was a two-seamer that flattened out and he just put a good swing on it," Kontos said. "He's a big, strong guy. So you make a mistake, he's going to put a good swing on it."

Kershaw's first career home run broke a scoreless tie and proved to be all the support he needed on opening day at Dodger Stadium. The left-hander again played Giants nemesis by throwing a complete-game shutout in a 4-0 win, lowering his career ERA against San Francisco to 1.28 -- best by any pitcher with at least 50 innings against the Giants.

April 1, 2013
Opening day complete-game shutout: Dodgers 4, Giants 0

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

LOS ANGELES -- The score one day into the 2013 season: Clayton Kershaw 1, San Francisco Giants 0.

Kershaw, the Dodgers' ace and Giants nemesis, confounded the defending champions on the mound with a complete-game shutout in the Dodgers' 4-0 opening day win and broke open a scoreless tie in the eighth inning with his first career home run.

Leading off the eighth, Kershaw hit the first pitch from reliever George Kontos -- a 92 mph fastball -- to straightaway center field. Angel Pagan gave chase briefly before turning and watching the ball sail over the fence as the crowd at Dodger Stadium erupted.

April 1, 2013
River Cats announce roster

The River Cats announced their opening day roster today and it's a loaded one.

The club starts out carrying A's first-round draft picks from every year from 2007-11. Those, in chronological order, are right-hander James Simmons, infielder Jemile Weeks, infielder Grant Green, outfielder Michael Choice and right-hander Sonny Gray.

Choice was a non-roster invitee to the A's big-league camp in spring training and had a torrid start with the bat. He finished 15-for-48 with a homer and nine RBIs before being sent down.

April 1, 2013
Sandoval 'a go' while Torres draws first start in LF platoon

LOS ANGELES -- Pablo Sandoval starts today after taking swings in the cage and throwing at AT&T Park yesterday with no problems. The Giants will continue to monitor him for the next several days, but manager Bruce Bochy said Sandoval "wasn't hesitant throwing the ball or swinging a bat, so he's a go."

Throwing hasn't been a problem for Sandoval with his right elbow. It's been more swinging a bat -- particularly from the left side several days ago -- but Bochy said Sandoval "felt fine" yesterday. The Giants are glad to have Sandoval in the lineup -- he has six career RBIs against Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, while the rest of the current Giants combined have two (one each to Buster Posey and Hunter Pence).

(Before the game, TVs in the visiting clubhouse were tuned to the MLB Network, which spent a couple minutes showing seemingly every at-bat Pence has ever had against Kershaw. This was not exactly a highlight reel for Pence, who has one hit in 23 career at-bats against the Dodgers' lefty. Pence wasn't at his locker while this was going on.)

* Andres Torres gets the start in left field over Gregor Blanco against lefty Clayton Kershaw as part of the platoon the Giants will use to start the season. That means Torres will likely start tomorrow as well against another Dodgers left-hander, Hyun-Jin Ryu, with Blanco getting his first start Wednesday against right-hander Josh Beckett.

April 1, 2013
Sandoval in Giants' opening day lineup against Dodgers

Thumbnail image for IMG_0272.JPG

LOS ANGELES -- Pablo Sandoval is a go for the Giants' opening game today against the Dodgers. Sandoval is in the lineup batting third and playing third base, meaning his right elbow is feeling up to playing. It might help that the Giants are facing a lefty in Clayton Kershaw, which means Sandoval will be batting right-handed -- the side that's been less affected by the elbow pain.

That's welcome news for the Giants. Sandoval is 8-for-29 in his career against Kershaw with six RBIs. No other current Giant has more than six career hits against Kershaw, though Marco Scutaro is 5-for-10 in his career.

Here's the lineup the Giants will run out against Kershaw. Happy opening day:

Pagan CF
Scutaro 2B
Sandoval 3B
Posey C
Pence RF
Belt 1B
Torres LF
Crawford SS
Cain P

And the Dodgers
Crawford LF
M. Ellis 2B
Kemp CF
Gonzalez 1B
Ethier RF
Cruz 3B
A.J. Ellis C
Sellers SS
Kershaw P

-- Matt Kawahara



About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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