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 . . .

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.