sf giants press clips monday, april 23, 2018 - mlb.mlb.· baker riffed on hank aaron and historic

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    SF Giants Press Clips Monday, April 23, 2018

    San Francisco Chronicle Giants take series after Brandon Belts record-setting at-bat Henry Schulman ANAHEIM For 12 minutes, 45 seconds Sunday, Andrew McCutchen stood on deck wondering if he would ever get to play baseball again. Johnny Cueto was in the tunnel keeping his arm loose. Joe Panik spent an eternity at first base. At the plate was Brandon Belt, who has an ill-deserved reputation for not swinging. He swung the bat so many times in this at-bat that fatigue set in. As he lined out to right, he had no idea he and a 21-year-old pitcher in his second big-league game made history. Belt and right-hander Jaime Barria set a major-league record for the most pitches in one plate appearance, 21, in the first inning of a 4-2 victory against the Angels that finally secured the Giants first series victory of 2018. Id never seen anything like it, manager Bruce Bochy said. The 21-pitch encounter was the longest since individual pitches were tracked starting in 1988. Belt had a big hand in the victory long after he and his mates saw 49 pitches in the first inning yet failed to score, a fitting symbol for their impotence with runners in scoring position. On the eighth pitch of a relatively mundane at-bat in the fifth, on the 38th pitch he saw on a sultry afternoon at the Big A, Belt homered for the fourth consecutive game, the longest streak of his career. Belt had no idea his first at-bat lasted 21 pitches. He thought it was in the teens.

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    I just remember getting tired and wanting to do something, Belt said. I didnt want to give in. I put too much effort into it. Barria was just as stubborn. He kept throwing strikes in the face of physical and mental fatigue, but later brushed it off. I think the batter had a tougher time, he said. I executed all my pitches. Panik singled to start the game before the duel that surpassed the 20 pitches that Bartolo Colon threw to strike out Houstons Ricky Gutierrez in a 1998 game in Cleveland. Belt hit 16 foul balls in the at-bat, 15 with two strikes and 11 in a row before losing the matchup. The 16th pitch of the at-bat had home run distance but hooked foul. Panik ran on a few pitches. Had there been two outs, he would have run on all 12 full-count pitches. Thats what I wanted, Belt joked. I was hoping hed have to run on every 3-2 pitch. He didnt have to. That made it worse for sure. Belt became the hitter he despises. When Im on the field, I hate it when a guy keeps fouling pitches off. Im like, Dude, just hit the ball. I basically had to apologize to everybody about that. Not surprisingly, McCutchen singled after Belt flied out. He was on deck and got to see everything Barria had multiple times. Twenty-one pitches from a pitcher he had not faced. You dont want to be the next guy who goes out on the first pitch, McCutchen said. Belts final two at-bats did last one pitch apiece, ending in a single and flyball. Barria escaped the marathon jam in the first on pop-ups by Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval. The Giants did not score but ensured a short afternoon for Barria. He was done after the Giants loaded the bases again in the third, with nobody out. Noe Ramirez got Buster Posey to hit into a run-scoring double play. Longoria then gave the Giants a 3-0 lead with his third home run of a fine trip in which he batted .361. The Belt-Barria skirmish overshadowed six more shutout innings by Cueto, who took a no-hitter into the sixth and lowered his majors-best ERA to 0.35. He turned his ankle again on a third-inning pitch but ran like a thoroughbred to first base to catch a Brandon Crawford relay and to

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    finish a 3-6-1 double play that ended the sixth after the Angels loaded the bases. Cueto pumped his fist and screamed as he ran back to the dugout, one of his more emotional moments with the Giants. The Giants could not celebrate the series victory until Hunter Strickland survived a harrowing ninth after Mike Trout hit a two-run homer off Cory Gearrin in the eighth to halve the Giants lead. Trout homered in all three games of the series. With two outs and two on and Trout on deck Strickland got Ian Kinsler to fly out. That ended a 4-6 trip for the Giants ahead of three at home against the Nationals, in their first visit to AT&T since the Strickland-Bryce Harper brawl in May. Strickland did not want to add kindling to that fire when asked before the game how he viewed the next three games. Win a series, he said with a smile. San Francisco Chronicle Giants outfield prospects Austin Slater, Steven Duggar thriving in Triple-A Henry Schulman ANAHEIM Dont look now, but center fielder Steven Duggars batting average at Triple-A Sacramento is up to .298 after his typical slow start. Fellow outfielder Austin Slaters start has been anything but slow. His .349 batting average is among the best in the Pacific Coast League. The front office and manager Bruce Bochy monitor their Triple-A players. As they showed with Mac Williamson, they are not shy about dipping into the minors for offensive help, which they have needed. Williamson was an easy call. He has big-league experience and his power numbers and spring-training performance were hard to ignore, and Hunter Pence was lost at the plate and has a thumb injury. The next opening might be tougher to create. None of their outfielders beside Williamson has minor-league options. The Giants would risk losing Gorkys Hernandez or Gregor Blanco through waivers, and they hate to let go of player inventory unless they have no choice. Though Slaters numbers are gaudier in addition to the batting average, he has nine extra-base hits in 43 at-bats Duggars road to the big leagues might be easier. The Giants view him as their future center fielder and Austin Jackson (.208, one extra-base hit) has struggled. The Giants signed Jackson for two years to move around the outfield and platoon with Duggar if the rookie won a job.

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    Williamson provided scouting reports on both outfielders. On Slater: Every game when I was down there, he put together great at-bats. He was swinging at good pitches and working the whole field. He really looked locked in. On Duggar: I felt like the numbers didnt speak the whole truth of him. He was having long at-bats eight, nine pitches but he just wasnt finding the barrel at the end of his at-bats. If you look at the percentage of quality at-bats, its only a matter of time. Briefly: Johnny Cuetos 0.35 is the lowest ERA for a Giants pitcher after four starts since Ray Sadeckis 0.25 in 1968, the Year of the Pitcher. ... Brandon Crawford singled in the eighth inning to snap his hitless streak at 19 at-bats. Joe Panik was 1-for-19 before his three-hit day. San Jose Mercury News Giants Dusty Baker spins his greatest hits Dan Brown DUSTY BAKER barely touched his spinach salad. The chicken and mashed potatoes sat ignored. Baker came here to talk, and on that front it was an all-you-can-eat buffet. The former Giants manager, back in the fold for the team as a special adviser to the front office, was telling tales as soon as he rolled into the parking lot for this fundraiser in support of UC Merced athletics. Baker riffed on Hank Aaron and historic high-fives and a little bat boy who grew up to become a ballplayer. Baker can tell a ripping good yarn talk about spin rate and even managed to conduct a one-way conversation with Rufus, the school mascot, about how mascots arent allowed to talk. The thing about Dustys stories, though, is that the best ones have the narrative arc of a fable. Theres a moral in the story somewhere, a lesson about sportsmanship or childhood or parenthood or even life and death. Bakers words can have a lingering impact, like ripples drifting toward the shore. And he got a reminder of that again on this night, where he was stunned to encounter a child he had given a pep talk to more than 35 years earlier. More on that later. Dusty Baker, back as special advisor to the Giants front office, got a warm welcome at the team's home opener, on April 3 at AT&T Park, where he made his first appearance in a Giants uniform since Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. The three-time manager of the year was here at the Building Future Champions dinner, a cause close to Bakers heart now that his own son is student-athlete in the UC system. Darren

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    Baker, the memorable bat boy saved from catastrophe by J.T. Snow in the 2002 World Series, is now a freshman second baseman at Cal. Dad is such a Bears fan that when the Giants called to offer Baker a job, he had one stipulation: To be able to attend all of Cals baseball games so he could watch Darren play ball. Because Ive missed so much of his life, all the way up, he says now. I was here, too, at the Turlock Golf and Country Club on April 12, to moderate the on-stage discussion. This was the easiest gig in sports, something akin to batting practice pitcher at the Home Run Derby. Baker, at 68, is like the greatest jukebox in baseball. He plays nothing but the hits. Press A7 for that golden oldie about being on deck when teammate Hank Aaron hit home run No. 715 to surpass Babe Ruth for the all-time home run record on April 8, 1974 Minutes before Hank Aaron launched this pitch from Al Downing for his 715th career home run, he told Dusty Baker the on-deck hitter that he was about to break Babe Ruth's all-time record. 'He wasnt bragging,' Baker recalled. 'He just said, Hey, Im going to get it over with right now.' RUTH purportedly called his shot, pointing to the bleachers before hitting the ball there in the 1932 World Series. Lesser known is that Aaron called his shot, too, with No. 715, but he did it in his typically understated style. Before heading to the plate to face Al Downing with one out in the fourth inning, he casually mentioned something to the on-deck h