SAN FRANCISCO -- Closer Brian Wilson tends to make every ninth inning interesting enough, whether he's blowing by batters or walking a tightrope by giving up a run like he did Thursday afternoon. But somehow, Pablo Sandoval found a way to add even more flair to the last out of the Giants' 2-1 win in AT&T Park.
After walking Alexi Casilla, Wilson gave up a run on Michael Cuddyer's double to left-center, cutting San Francisco's lead in half. He struck out Delmon Young and got Danny Valencia to line out to Cody Ross. With two outs and Cuddyer still waiting at second, Luke Hughes knocked a ground ball at Sandoval. The third baseman chose to pass up the forceout at first, instead hauling toward second base and flinging himself at Cuddyer, tagging his backside and preserving the win on a bizarre final play.
"That's a new play. We didn't work on that this spring, but he broke it out in that situation," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, barely suppressing a laugh. "I didn't know what he was doing either, to be honest. I guess he wanted to show off some speed there.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"But you take it. You take the last out any way you can get it. Like I said, sure, we made a couple of mistakes in tight games. Sometimes they come back to get you, but today they didn't because of Wilson finding a way to get it done."
Sandoval smiled when asked about the diving play afterward, chalking up the decision to being caught in the moment and wanting to take matters into his own hands to end the game.
"That's the emotion we play with. It's part of the game," Sandoval said. "You get so excited, so pumped up, that you want to do all the things to win."
Much was made about Sandoval's offseason workout and training regimen, as the so-called "Kung Fung Panda" came to Spring Training looking more fit and athletic than in years past. Even after spending nearly two months on the disabled list after surgery to remove a fractured right hamate bone, the conditioning must have been worth it.
"He got faster," Tim Lincecum said.
Brown to represent Giants at Futures Game
SAN FRANCISCO -- Outfielder Gary Brown has been chosen as the Giants' representative in the XM All-Star Futures Game, which will be played on All-Star Sunday at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Brown, ranked the No. 3 prospect in the Giants' organization by MLB.com behind first baseman/outfielder Brandon Belt and right-hander Zack Wheeler, was San Francisco's first-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Heralded for his plus-plus speed and his ability to wreak havoc on the basepaths, Brown is batting .328 with 32 stolen bases in 67 games for High-A San Jose this season.
Brown is following in the Futures Game footsteps of Wheeler, his teammate in San Jose who represented the Giants in last year's contest. The right-handed hitter makes consistent contact and has complemented his blazing speed with plenty of pop at the plate, picking up 17 doubles, four triples and six home runs this season for the High-A Giants. Viewed as San Francisco's leadoff hitter and center fielder of the future, Brown also owns a .477 slugging percentage and .398 on-base percentage this year, having drawn 25 walks while striking out 48 times.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Brown is one of five outfielders on the U.S. Team, joining former No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper, among others.
The 13th annual Futures Game can be seen live on MLB.TV, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday on Taco Bell All-Star Sunday, July 10, at 3 p.m. PT. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on XM 175. MLB.com will provide complete coverage before, during and after the game, and you can keep up to date by following @MLBFutures on Twitter. Fans can join the Futures Game conversation by tagging tweets with #mlbfutures.
Major League Baseball, along with with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America, USA Baseball and the 30 Major League Baseball clubs, selected the 25-man rosters for each club. Each organization is represented, and the World Team features players from 12 countries and territories. Players from all full-season Minor Leagues were eligible to participate.
Whiteside quieting calls for new catcher
SAN FRANCISCO -- Fans demand and speculation persists that the Giants must acquire a more experienced and accomplished catcher to help them reach the postseason. But Eli Whiteside is blissfully unaware of the hubbub."I don't read the paper. I don't look at the Internet," said Whiteside, who became San Francisco's primary catcher when Buster Posey was sidelined in late May with a broken bone in his lower leg and three torn ankle ligaments. Whiteside, who received a rest Thursday, is batting only .221 overall but has hit .323 (10-for-31) with six RBIs in his last 10 games. That includes his 2-for-4, three-RBI effort in Wednesday's 5-1 triumph over Minnesota. Whiteside attributed his mini-surge to increased activity.
"It's a little bit easier to make adjustments when you get consistent at-bats," said Whiteside, 31. "I hope it continues."Pitchers emphasize that Whiteside capably handles the staff and defends his position, which remain the top priorities for any catcher. Said Ryan Vogelsong, who worked seven solid innings Wednesday, "He doesn't make me think much. He allows me to concentrate on what I'm doing mechanically. It's really nice when I can just watch him put down the fingers, [nod] my head and throw the pitch." "We've never thought we needed another catcher," right-hander Sergio Romo said. "We look at what he and [Chris] Stewart can do behind the plate. ... Offensively, whatever they contribute, we accept. We don't expect them to be the MVP. ... They're very capable of doing what we ask."
Rowand toughing out hits to hand
SAN FRANCISCO -- Aaron Rowand took a pitch off his left hand for the second day in a row Thursday, but once again, it won't be enough to keep him off the field.
The Giants center fielder worked a 2-2 count in the eighth inning of San Francisco's 2-1 win over Minnesota, then Twins right-hander Alex Burnett bounced a two-seam fastball off Rowand's left hand, a few inches away from the spot Rowand was hit the night before.
Rowand said he would be "a little sore" but otherwise felt fine. He had X-rays after Wednesday night's game, when he was hit by a Nick Blackburn two-seamer in the second inning and a brief injury delay followed, but they came back negative.
He told head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner late Wednesday night he would be fine, and he was back in the lineup for Thursday's game, finishing 2-for-3 while batting in the leadoff spot. He didn't undergo any tests to check on his hand after Thursday afternoon's game.
Despite a recent report that left-hander Barry Zito might make his return by starting Sunday night against the Indians on ESPN, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the start still belongs to Madison Bumgarner. Even after the young lefty's disastrous one-third of an inning Tuesday night against the Twins, Bochy said he was "not concerned about Madison at all," adding that his teammates were trying to loosen him up and get him to laugh about it.
Andres Torres was out of the lineup for a second straight game Thursday, getting another day off to try to break out of his current 3-for-21 slump. Bochy admitted Torres was pressing "big time" but said there is a good chance Torres will be back in the lineup Friday.
"He's one of those guys who's probably taking 2,000 swings a day to get it right," Bochy said. "He's obsessed with trying to get better, and the only way he knows how to get better is to work harder. I wouldn't be surprised if he's taking the bat home at 3 in the morning and swinging."
Injured utility man Mark DeRosa, on the 60-day disabled list with a torn ECU tendon in his wrist, is still continuing his rehab and hoping to make an impact down the stretch this season, Bochy said. But in the meantime, DeRosa is trying to help out his teammates in other ways, keeping things light in the clubhouse and providing another veteran presence for the younger players.
"He's been through some tough times and had ups and downs, so he can help these guys," Bochy said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.