Giants win Game 3 on walk-off error, take 2-1 series lead over Cardinals

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Cardinals left-handed specialist Randy Choate was brought into a 4-4 game in the bottom of the 10th inning to face left-handed hitter Brandon Crawford. He walked him.

Then right-handed hitter Juan Perez tried to bunt Crawford over to second base, but botched two attempts. Forced to swing away, he lined to a two-strike single to left field.

Choate remained in the game to face left-handed hitter Gregor Blanco, who botched his first bunt attempt and then got his second bunt attempt down. Choate fielded it on the third base side of the mound and threw the ball away down the right field line.

Game over. Giants win on a walk-off error in an inning that went like no one involved probably planned. Sort of like these playoffs, overall.

And the game was plenty weird even before extra innings. San Francisco scored four first-inning runs off Cardinals starter John Lackey, who then recovered to toss five shutout frames before being removed with only 79 pitches. The first three relievers out of St. Louis’ bullpen tossed one shutout inning apiece before Choate came in and things got crazy.

San Francisco’s bullpen was even better, as four relievers combined to throw 3.2 shutout innings after starter Tim Hudson was left in to serve up a game-tying homer to Randal Grichuk in the seventh inning.

And last but not least: Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval made a great defensive play in the top of the 10th inning, fielding Matt Holliday’s hard-hit ball down the line that almost surely would have scored Jon Jay from first base and put the Cardinals up 5-4.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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