McAdam at the World Series: Giants win with pitching

McAdam at the World Series: Giants win with pitching

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Sometimes, with all the advanced metrics, all the statistical analysis, all the mountains of data, baseball comes down to pitching. Pure and simple.

Case in point? The San Francisco Giants, 2010 champions.

Nobody in the lineup hit more than 25 home runs during the regular season and no one knocked in 90 runs. Even in the World Series, which they won Monday night with a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in Game Five, they hit a mere .249.

But here's the thing: They held the Rangers, one of the game's best lineups, to a .190 average. They shut them out twice in five games. And over the final 19 innings, in a ballpark known as one of the game's most hitter-friendly, they held the mighty Rangers to a single run on just six hits.

They weren't loaded with huge names or a fearsome lineup. But somehow, the Giants won the N.L. West, then beat the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Rangers.

How?

"Pitching,'' said outfielder Aaron Rowand without hesitation. "Pitching and defense wins championships. It's a cliche, but it's the truth. You can get to the postseason with a great offense. You can get there with shaky defense. But when you get to the postseason, pitching and defense wins championships.''

The duo of shortstop (and MVP) Edgar Renteria and second baseman Freddy Sanchez formed an unlikely double-play combination, and there were a few sparkling plays by others over the course of the five games.

But the Giants sprayed each other silly with champagne Monday night because their starters were dominant.

For the series, they combined to post a 2.38 ERA, allowing just 9 earned runs over 34 innings pitched. And those 34 were critical too -- in the five-game series, the starters left just 10 innings to their bullpen.

Take away the one poor start in five games, from Jonathan Sanchez, and the Giants' pitchers had an even more impressive 1.53 ERA.

Brian Sabean, the New Hampshire-born general manager of the Giants, has surely had more talented teams since taking over in 1996. His Giants, needing only one more win to take the the title, led in Game Six of the 2002 World Series only to lose that game and the next night, too, to the Anaheim Angels.

But none had the stockpile of arms that this edition had. Tim Lincecum (masterful Monday over eight innings), Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner were all first-round picks, and the the Giants' home-grown rotation was the first in the World Series since the 1986 Red Sox (Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst, Oil Can Boyd and Al Nipper).

"The best lesson learned is that pitching and defense can take you a long way,'' said Sabean. "It took us all the way to the World Series and actually won it for us. If you follow our team, it's kind of a standing joke: We don't know what's going to happen on any given night except that you're probably going to get a good pitching performance.

"Everybody expected that we'd come to Texas and be up against some runs scored, but it didn't turn out that way. I can't speak enough about our advance scouting and the way out pitchers executed the game plan.''

Lincecum won four games in the postseason and Cain wene 21 13 innings in October without giving up an unearned run. And Bumgarner, all of 21, was as dominant as any in winning Game Four Sunday night to set up the clinching victory Monday.

With the pitching in place, Sabean kept adding pieces along the way, picking up Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez well after the season started. He had his foundation -- his rotation -- already in place.

''I think the biggest decision we made,'' said Sabean, "was to not trade any of the pitching. We all believed that was the right thing to do. It turned out to be the real proof in the pudding. That's our foundation, that's the basis of this team.''

A championship team.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

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Porcello 'feels as good as I've felt all spring' in Red Sox' 5-3 loss

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.