Madison Bumgarner shines as the Giants toss their fourth straight shutout

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Never before in the long history of the Giants franchise had they thrown four straight shutouts, but they have now. They blanked the Reds 5-0. This after throwing three straight shutouts against the Dodgers. Their scoreless innings streak is now at 36 innings, the longest in team history.

The last time the Giants allowed a run was when Santiago Casilla gave up that walkoff homer to Derek Norris in Sunday’s game against the Athletics. Since then a string of pitchers have shut out the opposition. In order: Barry Zito, George Kontos and Shane Loux against the Dodgers on Monday, Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt and Casilla on Tuesday and Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo on Wednesday.

Last night was the best performance yet. Madison Bumgarner needed just 107 pitches to shut out the Reds, allowing only one hit and two walks while striking out eight. The only hit was Ryan Hanigan’s sixth inning single. Otherwise: bupkis.

The Giants now are in sole possession of first place in the NL West. If anyone is gonna do anything about that, they need to figure out how to score off these dudes first. For the moment: ain’t happening.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.