San Francisco Giants v Texas Rangers, Game 4

HBT Game 4 Live blog

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11:31: And Josh Hamilton strikes out to end it. 4-0, the Giants shut out the Rangers. 3-1 is the series lead. Things are dire.  How do the Rangers beat Lincecum and Cain?  Let’s think about that one tomorrow. For now, stay tuned as D.J. will be on soon to put this one in perspective.  Night all.

11:30: Wilson is on. Two out.  This one is about over. Even Josh Hamilton can’t hit a five run homer.

11:27: Brian Wilson comes in to demoralize Rangers fans. I predict no less than five camera shots of fans with their hands up near their mouths in prayer and/or consternation. FOX just can’t help itself with this stuff.

11:24: Holland rebounds to retire the next three hitters in order. Call off the Steve Blass Alert.

11:19: Derek Holland walks the first batter he faces. Wow. Where have we seen this before?

11:14: Bumgarner gives up two hard hit balls to left, but they were caught, and then strikes Mitch Moreland out looking. Bumgarner’s night is likely over. The Giants get their hacks in the ninth and then in comes Brian Wilson.  The Rangers are about to be shut out for the second time in four games, aren’t they?

11:08: So I was wrong. Bumgarner is back out. I guess they don’t need to save him for anything. And it’s the bottom of the Rangers’ order.

11:00:  Wow, Buster Posey hit a home run out to center. It looked like a popup off the bat. Hamilton played it like a popup, but it just carried and carried. Man. 4-0, Giants, who are on the verge of being up 3-1.

10:58: Joe Buck with his 5th Dallas Cowboys reference of the night. It’s like being on a date with a girl who keeps talking about that other guy she has a crush on.

10:50: And it’s for naught. Kinsler flies out to left. Threat over. The question: does Bumgarner come out for the 8th? I’m guessing no.

10:48: Nelson Cruz singles up the middle. After a night of quiet from the Rangers’ bats, they have two on and the tying run at the plate in the form of Ian Kinsler.

10:46: Bumgarner at 84 pitches. If he can get through the 7th nicely, Bochy can go straight to Brian Wilson.

10:41: Bumgarner getting some really lenient calls on the inside corner now. The home plate ump must have realized how slow the first third of the game was and remembered that he has someplace to be.

10:37: God Bless America bu the group “4 Troops.” I may have missed the memo explaining them, but I’m assuming they’re either veterans themselves or are somehow designed to be a tribute to troops. Much better, I think, than the song being used as a FOX promo last night.  But I’m not gonna lie: this four-part ballad whatever it is arrangement is pretty terrible. We’re a step away from halftime shows here.

10:33: Did I say insurance? The Giants just got it. A Renteria single followed two batters later by Andres Torres hitting an RBI double to the gap. 3-0, Giants.

10:23: Another double play for the Giants. Bumgarner has everything going in his favor tonight. He would probably like a little insurance right now, however.

10:19: Molina grounds to third. Uribe seems to take extra time to throw him out. It seems like the Giants fielders are rubbing it in with him.

10:14: Darren Oliver is in replacing Ogando. Fact: every other Rangers relief pitcher is named Darren.

10:09: Alexi Ogando pulled or tweaked something. He’s hurt and out of the game. That’s a big blow for the Rangers. He had restored order and had been looking good.

10:06: Not a lot is happening in this game right now as the pitchers have settled down. Lots of Halloween talk and shots of fans in costumes. The one of Beaker from the Muppet Show was awesome. But the best, by far, is Ken Rosenthal dressed as Brother Mouzone from “The Wire.”

10:02: A 1-2-3 5th inning from Madison Bumgarner. Great defense continues for the Giants. Starting to get the feeling that last night’s game was the aberration. But for Jonathan Sanchez, the Giants are just abusing the Rangers.

9:55: And Ogando makes short work of the Giants in the 5th. Maybe with Hunter gone we can get some momentum going here.

9:52: Alexi Ogando is coming in to the game for Texas, closing the book on Tommy Hunter. Hunter seemed way worse than the line score would indicate. I think that if you had told Ron Washington before the game that Hunter would only allow two runs, he would have been happy. Maybe would have liked an extra inning or two from him, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

9: 49: And Sanchez does get another chance: applies the tag on Josh Hamilton as he’s caught stealing. Great thrown by Posey. Great tag by Sanchez. Some sweet defense being played in this one.

9:45: Man, Freddy Sanchez is going nuts at second base. That snag a couple of innings ago, a great play that just missed Michael Young and then that stab and tag on Hamilton’s fielder’s choice.  Hit it to him again! This is fun!

9:44: Um, no, I did not miss the first three pitches of this inning because I didn’t flip back from “Dawn of the Dead” over on AMC fast enough.

9:38: Just when I thought Tommy Hunter was going to get through an inning quickly, he gives up a hot shot single to Renteria. He’s got to be near the end of the line tonight. His pitch count is high, his control is shaky and he’s sweating gravy.

9:30: Showing Nolan Ryan highlights, and they show the Robin Ventura beatdown!  Love it! I take back everything I ever said about you FOX.

9:28: Bengie Molina grounds to short. As it’s being fielded, Buck says “Renteria has time.” That may be the understatement of the century.

9:24: Hunter gets the fly out to end the inning. By the way, this game is over an hour old and we’ve only played two and a half innings.

9:20: Aubrey Huff just hit a mile-high shot that stayed straight as it went down the line and out. 2-0 Giants.

9:15: A leadoff double for Andres Torres. Good luck for him: ball hit the bag and bounced over Mitch Moreland.  And it gave Francoeur a shot to show off his arm. he LOVES doin’ that.

9:09: Freddy Sanchez robs Jeff Francoeur of a base hit with a leaping grab to end the inning. I’ll deal with a bad zone if every inning can end with a great defensive play.

9:07: The strike zone continues to jump all over the place. High and inside is a strike, apparently. Right down the middle, nope. But not always.  Just maddening.

8:57: Josh Hamilton saves the day with an awesome diving catch. The players are doing their best to render the umps’ bad calls meaningless.

8:55: And now runners on the corners after a Renteria single. All of this — plus the nine extra pitches (and counting) from Hunter — would be unnecessary if the ump at first had made the right call on the would-be DP.

8:51: That was probably the first time Barbara Bush has ever been circled on a telestrator.

8:49: Bad call. Runner was out at first on the DP attempt, umps called him safe. Replay please.

8:44: This strike zone is ridiculous. This game will be four and a half hours if Mike Winters doesn’t loosen this up a bit.

8:40: Nice takeout slide by Andrus to break up the DP.  There’s not much not to like about that kid.

8:38: Four-pitch walk to kick of the game for Madison Bumgarner. Yeah, he got squeezed, but not a good sign.

8:37: Rangers players doing the lineups by saying what their favorite Halloween costumes were as kids. Another reason to wish that the World Series didn’t stretch this late into the year. Mid-October would be great. Impossible, I know, but this just seems wrong.

8:34: Is the guy in the runaway train movie Captain Kirk from the new Star Trek flick?  Maybe another reason to see it. It may be terrible but I think I’m hooked.

8:31: Gotta say, I really hate the orange bills on the Giants alternate caps. Why mess with classic lines?

8:25: We’re not really squaring to bunt with no one out in the first, are we?

8:23: Before the playoffs, almost every Rangers game I saw this year was on MLB.tv, so it was on my little computer screen. Since the playoffs started, all on my big HD TV. Lesson learned: Tommy Hunter is friggin’ gigantic. It just never came through so clearly on the computer.

8:20: Saw this earlier, of course, but it’s quite nice to not see Pat Burrell in the lineup. Unless you’re the Rangers anyway.

8:16: Another aces first pitch from GWB.  Dude has an arm.

8:14: The Bushes are in the house. Say what you want about the politics, but they are easily the two most baseballingest presidents we’ve ever had, and you have to love that.

8:11: I love how they tease the first pitch: “A father son first pitch with a Presidential flavor to it.” Without naming names. Ooh! Let me guess: John and John Quincy Adams?

8:09: Lyle Lovett doing the National Anthem. With a cello. Not a large band. I’d still like to see Hayes Carll get a shot at this. He’s from Texas.

7:55 P.M.:  We’ll be live blogging this bad boy once again, my friends.  First pitch is 8:20ish, but I’m sure I’ll find something to snark about before then. Come on in, sit right down and hit refresh every few minutes. I mean, your alternative is watching a lame NFL game. And who wants to do that?

Oh, wait. The football game is on NBC. Let’s just see if we can figure out our picture-in-picture, cool?  Craigy’s gotta pay the bills, after all . . .

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.

Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base

New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada falls after a slide by Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley during the seventh inning of an NL Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
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After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.

The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:

Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.

However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.

There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”

Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:

And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.