Results tagged ‘ Buster Posey ’

Crazy Number 7 – Brandon Crawford

This is baseball in a nutshell.

I landed in the record books with seven hits on Monday night.

The day before, I went 0-for-4.

The day after, I went 0-for-4.

Try to make sense of it and you’ll go crazy.

I began the game using the same bat I’d be using the whole road trip. The way I’d been hitting during the road trip, there was absolutely no indication that bat had so many hits in it. Though I guess I could look at it another way: the bat had plenty of hits left because I sure hadn’t used up too many.

I remember being pretty happy with my first hit on Monday night, a two-strike squib in the second inning that Dee Gordon couldn’t make a play on. I don’t get too many infield singles, so it felt like a gift.

My second hit was a lead-off double over the first-base bag. Again a little lucky. A few inches to the right and it’s foul.

I struck out my third time up.

Then, down 5-1 in the seventh, I got a two-hopper between first and second in the five-run rally that put us ahead 6-5.

We fell behind again, 7-6, and in the eighth I jammed a blooper into right field that tied the score at 7. I thought Giancarlo Stanton had a chance to dive and catch it, so I lucked out again a bit there.

Now it’s the 11th inning. Buster’s on first, no outs. I get two strikes, foul twice, then hit a line-drive single up the middle. That’s when Buster tried to eat third base. I was worried at first then he got up and, other than a little embarrassed, he looked fine. So of course I thought it was pretty funny — until I heard that he had jammed his finger. And that scrape on his chin was pretty bad.

(But Buster had a sense of humor about it. In the clubhouse after the game, I saw him on his phone watching it on the MLB app and he was laughing to himself. MLB network showed it in slow-motion on TV and we all got laughing. His finger was still hurting, though, and he sat out the next day.)

So that was my fifth hit. I’d never had five hits in a game before. I’d only gotten four a couple times. So I’m thinking this is pretty cool. And I figured that was it. We were already in extra innings, so I probably wasn’t going to get another at-bat, much less another hit.

But the game slogs into the 13th and I hit a triple to right.

Six hits. Crazy.

Now we go to the 14th. Belt and Buster get on base. Two outs. Here I come to the plate. I’m no statistician, but with six hits already, I know I’m not going to get a hit. I’m due – overdue – to make an out. I’m thinking, “It’s too bad it’s me in this situation. This kind of sucks for us.’’

The Marlins had just brought in Andrew Cashner to pitch. I’d done fairly well against Cashner. I know what he has. But of course I don’t know how he’s going to pitch me here. First pitch is a ball. Then I get a slider up the middle that I drive into center. And we go ahead, 8-7.

After the game, after watching all the replays of Buster’s face-plant, a reporter told me that seven hits in a game is rarer than a perfect game. I shared this information almost immediately with Matt Cain. He was a bit defensive, pointing out that every starting pitcher has a chance to get a perfect game but rarely does, while most batters never even have the chance to get seven hits.

Well, I don’t care. I’m pretty thrilled with it. I’m never going to get the home run record or career hits record, but I’ve been incredibly lucky in the record-book department. I’m one of just six players to hit a grand-slam in my first Major League game. And I’m the first shortstop in baseball history to hit a grand slam in a post-season game (2014 Wild Card game against the Pirates).

It’s crazy to think that in the whole history of the game, you’re among such a small group of people who accomplished a particular feat.

However puffed up I might have been feeling on Monday, I was humbled on Tuesday with the 0-for-4. That’s the game. Always humbling you.

I think I’ll blame it on giving the bat to the Hall of Fame. Maybe it still had some juice in it.

MLB has to authenticate all your stuff from the game on the day it happens, so they were in the clubhouse that night. They authenticated my bat, gloves, helmet, jersey and cleats. I’m keeping the jersey and the cleats. The jersey just because I want it. And the cleats because they’re the only ones I have and want to use them the rest of the season.

I think I’m getting the lineup card, too.

I know right now it might not look like that 14-inning win is the turning point in our season. But I think it still might prove to be the moment we look back on. We had to grind it out – Bochy in the hospital, Pence with his black eye, Buster with his scraped face and jammed finger. As Jon Miller said, we looked like a poster from the Civil War.

We were feeling pretty great that night though we were completely exhausted. You couldn’t help but look around the clubhouse and think, I’ll take my chances with these guys any day.

 

 

 

Bum, Drool and Swinging Away – Brandon Crawford

Still shaking my head about the Warriors last night. Amazing. We know a little about playing in the postseason with our backs against the wall. Really inspiring to watch.

I want to finish up random notes from the last road trip.

Big Bad Bum in San Diego: As soon as Bum struck out Wil Myers for the last out of the inning, I bolted for the dugout because I was leading off. As I’m running in, the field crew is coming out to drag the field, and the crowd suddenly erupts. I’m thinking, “Man, they really like the field crew here.’’ Then I see the dugout emptying. I still don’t really know what happened. Just another day at the ballpark with Bum on the mound.

Swinging away: There are certain things you remember in detail when you play ball. They’re usually the things that don’t happen very often. One of those is swinging on 3-0 counts, which I did in the same game as the Bum-Myers dust-up. I’ve swung on 3-0 counts only five times in my ML career.

The first time was against Johnny Cueto in 2011.   I flew out to left. I didn’t swing on 3-0’s for the next three years, ’12, ’13 and ’14. Last year, I swung three times – for two home runs and a double. And in San Diego, I hit a home run. I’m now 4-for-5 on 3-0 counts.

How do I decide to swing or not? The pitcher, the score, where base runners are, who’s hitting behind me.

In San Diego, the situation was: runners on first and third, one out, nothing-nothing game, and a pitcher – Colin Rea — I had never faced but had watched video on. He’s not a guy who has a huge sinker or anything like that, so I wasn’t too concerned about grounding into a double play. He’s a guy who will occasionally elevate his fastball — something you can hit a fly ball off of. So I figured even if I didn’t get all of it, I’d still get a sacrifice fly and score the runner the third. Bum was on deck. Yes, he’s a good-hitting pitcher, but he’s a pitcher. I wanted to do what I could to get the run in myself. I looked for Rea to throw me a fastball, which he did — though it was a borderline ball four. And since I was ready for it, I got it out.

So I don’t know if this stuff is at all interesting to most people, but for those who wonder about our thought process, I’ll share why I swung away the other three times.

Last year, against Jordan Zimmerman, the situation was 2 outs, nobody on, and a light-hitting batter coming up behind me. If I took the walk, there’d be two outs with me on first. I’m not a big basestealer, so somebody was going to have to hit a double to get me home from first. So I went for it. I had never really hit Zimmerman well in the past, but I knew he was going to come after me with fastballs. He doesn’t want to walk anybody. Sure enough, I got an up-and-in fastball and hit it out.

It was a similar situation against Kyle Lohse, also last year. Two outs, runner on first. We’d need an extra base hit to score the runner. Lohse was another guy who, for the most part, was going to come right after you. He doesn’t want to walk me and put a runner on second base with two outs. So I thought it was a good time to swing away. Maybe I’d hit one in the gap and score the runner from first. I hit a HR to center.

The next one was against the Dodgers. Belt was on second with two outs. Mike Bolsinger, a right-hander, was on the mound. We had a right-handed batter after me, so Bolsinger was pitching around me to get to him. I had just taken a couple good curve balls, so I sat on another one and hit a double.

Having said all this, I know if I swing at a 3-0 pitch and ground out, some people will howl – “Why are you swinging on 3-0??’’ But at least you’ll know why.

A Day at the Zoo: Kristen Posey arranged for players and families to go to the San Diego Zoo when we were there. Buster and Kristen’s son, Lee, who is four years old, came into the clubhouse after a game at AT&T the other day.

“Lee, how’d you like the zoo?’’ I asked him.

He lit up. “Yeah! The giraffe drooled on my head!’’

Love that kid. Fits right in with the rest of us.

Thanks for reading. Go Warriors!

 

Hoping for Some Fireworks in DC — Brandon Crawford

Rough series in Miami. We never seem to play the Marlins very well. I’m not sure what it is. A lot of people asked me about Carter Capps, the Marlins reliever who drags his foot off the rubber before he throws the pitch. And he throws 100. I’ve hit against him twice and seen six pitches, all strikes. I swung at five. Didn’t make contact once. It’s hard to pick up the ball. In my last at-bat, I swung at two sliders that I think bounced in front of the plate. His strange delivery is legal, I’m told, because he doesn’t push off again after he leaves the rubber. It’s all arm. I don’t know how you learn to pitch like that or how stressful that must be on an arm.

One of the things that’s special about this Giants team — and you’ve heard me say this before — is no matter how things are going for us, we stick together. Staying connected is really important for the type of guys we have on this team. For instance — and I’m not sure when it started — but before every game I shake hands or fist-bump every player and coach on the team, including the relievers heading out to the bullpen. We have all kinds of crazy handshakes. One isn’t even a handshake. Shawon Dunston, one of our coaches, once came up to me and clapped me simultaneously on the chest and back, so that’s our thing now, with him saying, “Let’s go, Barry Larkin!’’  (his nickname for me.) You have to be a little cautious with the starting pitcher, especially if it’s Vogey. I might give him just a light fist tap, which he’ll accept with a kind of “don’t bother me’’ look. (I have no crazy handshake with Buster. He’s not into it.)

The point is we make an effort to remind each other that we’re in this together. On the road, when we have time for dinner, a bunch of us end up going out together. I’m sure we’ll do that tomorrow night for July 4th. We play here at 11 a.m. so we have plenty of time to meet for dinner. No definite plans yet but usually somebody will start inviting people and it ends up being most of the team. Maybe even Belt will come. Sometimes he goes off on his own to a movie without telling anyone. We’ll probably watch fireworks from the hotel.

Answers to your questions!
When you are on the road, who watches the kids when you and Jalynne go out? Do you have help on the road? The only time we’ll go out is if family comes with us to watch the girls. But even then, usually we don’t go out. Jalynne brings the girls so I can see them, which means I want to have dinner with them. Jalynne’s twin sister, Janelle, and her husband and baby joined us in Miami because we had an off day there on Monday. But we all ate together. Jannelle and her family are going to move in with us this month and stay for the rest of the season to help with the girls and keep Jalynne company.

Do you guys eat out every meal, or do they feed you in the clubhouse when you are on the road? They feed us in the clubhouse — and we eat out. Depends on the time of the game. Today we have a 6 p.m. game, so I went to the mall next to the hotel for lunch with Buster. Then we’ll eat something in the clubhouse after the game.

Any outstanding restaurants you would recommend? Capitol Grille is always a good spot. There’s one of those in almost every city we go to, it seems. The truth is I’m not very picky.

I saw on Strickland’s Instagram that Heston bought a bottle of Blue Label for everyone on the team after his no-hitter.  . . . Are you a big whiskey guy? Blue Label is definitely a treat for a whiskey fan. I’m not a big drinking guy in general. I’ve never tried Blue Label, but I might have to now for Heston. Cain got us watches for his perfect game in 2012. It’s nice of the pitchers to acknowledge us.

How early are players supposed to get to the park before the game? For a 7:15 game I get to the park at 2:15 so there’s time to get treatment in the training room and work out before batting practice, which is around 4:30.

Did Morse get any flack for his plaid jacket? He doesn’t really surprise us with any of his outfits, so I don’t even remember the plaid jacket.

Has Jalynne ever taught you some gymnastics moves? With some of the amazing plays you make at shortstop, I joke that, “Well, his wife was a gymnast at UCLA, he probably picked up some moves.” lol! She’s told me the names of a couple of the moves that look like something I’ve done on the field. She didn’t teach me any of them, though.

Do you, Belt, and Panik (I suppose Duffy too!) hang out at all outside of games/practice? Seems like you three are pretty close, especially with the Crawnik infield, chemistry-wise. We’re all close, and we do go out on the road when there’s time. I’m not sure it adds to our chemistry. Marco Scutaro and I had great chemistry and we never hung out off the field. I think we all know each other pretty well just by being teammates. Maybe we hang out because we’re all in the same age range, though somebody reminded me earlier this season that I’m oldest of the infielders. I’m 28. Belt’s 27, Joe’s 25 and Duffy’s 24. And Buster’s 2 months younger than me.

I was curious of how you got to the Oracle Stadium so fast after just finishing a game, get cleaned up, drive over. Good maneuvering through traffic.

How did you get so good at hitting? Did the Giants recommend any batting mechanics changes when you were coming up the farm system? Is there a Giants Way for hitting? There were definitely a lot of recommendations, which happens with anybody who struggles in the minor leagues. I’m sure even Buster got recommendations a couple of times, though nothing drastic, I’m sure. But I got plenty. I changed my batting stance a few times, for example. You just kind of have to find what works for you. You piece everything together and just make it your own because there’s no single approach that works for everybody. There’s no Giants Way. The coaches are really good at recognizing that every player is different, every swing is different.

I use video to watch pitchers before facing them. You can look at a scouting report and see he’s got a fastball, slider, change-up. But you want to see what his pitches are doing. And you want to look at what he throws in different situations. Once the game starts, you don’t think about it a whole lot. You just kind of react. But at least you have a better plan going in.

I also watch my own at-bats sometimes, though at this point there isn’t anything drastic I’m going to see. Every now and then you’ll see something small you need to adjust. Fortunately there hasn’t been a whole lot of that this year. Recently, though, I’ve been doing something that Bam-Bam found on film that I didn’t see. It’s great to have another set of eyes.

Can you confirm Baggs’ statement about Belt never wearing a protective cup?
It’s true. Not all players wear cups. Most outfielders don’t because they don’t get ground balls that are going to take a bad hop. The infielders who don’t wear them either REALLY trust their hands or they’ve never been hit there.

I’ve always wondered if the bat boys traveled with you? No. The home team provides bat boys.

Was the team surprised that there seemed to be as many Giants fans as there were Mariner fans when you played in Seattle? Yes, we were really surprised. We never get that kind of applause in batting practice — even at home! We were walking out to stretch and getting a standing ovation from half the crowd. It was crazy. We don’t go to Seattle very often so maybe all the Giants fans in the area came out.

Favorite Giants-Dodgers Moment? — Brandon Crawford

I know the last two days against the Dodgers haven’t shown it, and we’re dealing with injuries to key guys, but we feel really strong starting the second half of the season. That 14-inning game in Philadelphia told you everything you need to know about this team: We battle. It’s kind of our signature since at least the 2012 post-season. Whether we’re struggling through a few-week stretch or a six-hour game, we fight.
I was happy to get that double in the top of the 14th to put us ahead. But I would have been happy with anybody getting a hit at that point. I received a lot of the credit after the game, but Buster’s home run in the ninth to tie the game was just as big or bigger than mine. Papelbon hadn’t given up a home run all season. And the bullpen was awesome — eight innings and they gave up only one run.
I’ve joked — well, I’m actually kind of serious — about wanting to pitch sometime in a game. But I knew Bochy had to go with Colvin or Blanco if the Phillies had tied it up in the bottom of the 14th and we went to the 15th. There were no position players left on the bench, so Timmy — who pitched the 14th — would have had to stay in the game and play the field. There’s no way Bochy could let me pitch and put Timmy at shortstop. He’d have to play in the outfield, so that meant either Colvin or Blanco would have to pitch.  Luckily, it didn’t come to that.
You might have read about the virus or whatever that’s been lingering in the clubhouse for what seems like months now. I’ve had it at least a month if not more, and it’s finally gone. I think Miami shook it out of me. Or maybe it was the All-Star break. I spent the break very quietly, as I mentioned I would in my last post. I saw my grandma one day. Another day we went to Buster’s to hang out and let the kids play. Braylyn, who’s a year and a half, is still a little new to playing with other kids because she hasn’t had many opportunities. But she was good with Buster and Kristen’s twins, who are three. Javy and Renee Lopez were also there with their two kids — their son is almost two and their daughter is four, I think. (I’m not good at guessing ages.) Braylyn would go play with something and want to play by herself. Then she’d join the other kids. She loved the pool. Buster grilled up some hot dogs and hamburgers. It was just a really great, relaxing summer day. When you have so few off days, you really appreciate each one, especially the ones that aren’t crammed with errands and appointments.
So since have some down time during All-Star break, I’ve been feeling much better at the plate. My first at-bat in Miami was maybe my best at-bat all season. I stayed in against Eovaldi for 10 pitches before hitting a two-run homer on the 11th pitch, a 97-mph fastball. I was happy to fight off some pretty good pitches then square up like that. I hit balls hard in the series even if they didn’t translate into hits all the time. When I feel like that at the plate, I know the hits will start to come.
Playing the Dodgers this weekend got me thinking about my favorite Dodgers-Giants memories from when I was a kid. I kind of remember the Brian Johnson game in 1997 when he hit the game-winning home run in the 12th inning to sweep the Dodgers and move into a tie for first place. I’m pretty sure I was at Candlestick for the game that day, but I was really young so I don’t remember it well.
The moment I really remember from the Dodgers-Giants rivalry is kind of unusual. It was a single at-bat. Bonds was facing Cy Young winner Eric Gagne. It was early in the 2004 season. The Dodgers were ahead 3-0 in the ninth. One out. Runner at first. I was at the game with my dad. Gagne was throwing 100 mph fastballs, one after another. Every player not on the field hung over the dugout rails watching power against power.
Bonds fouled the first pitch past the Dodgers dugout.
Then he took a called strike inside — 99 mph.
Ball outside.
Ball inside — 100 mph.
Foul into the stands behind the plate.
Towering foul into McCovey Cove off a 101-mph fastball.
Then Gagne threw another fastball — 100 mph this time. Bonds hit it into the center field bleachers.
I thought, “Wow.’’ Bonds just kept battling. The Giants lost, but I’ll never forget that at-bat.

(Full disclosure: I looked up the exact pitch sequence. I didn’t remember every single pitch.)
What’s your favorite Giants-Dodgers moment?

July 27, 2014

2:30 p.m.

 

The 2012 Giants: We Do Drama – Brandon Crawford

It’s not exactly the Torture of 2010, but this 2012 version can take you on a pretty good roller coaster ride.

​If you watched today’s game, you know what I mean. We scored four in the first then kind of went on cruise control and blew the lead. But lately we have this knack of getting a hit or a walk or a hit-by-pitch in the eighth or ninth inning – and suddenly it’s like a switch has been flipped.

Today we were down 8-5 with two outs in the eighth, and Hector Sanchez hit a double. And everything changed.

I followed up with a double, scoring Hector and closing the gap to 8-6. Belt came in to pinch hit. He hit a single to drive me in: 8-7.

In the ninth, Scutaro doubled. Then Buster doubled him in: 8-8.

People say hitting is contagious. I know it makes no sense at all, but I believe it because that’s our team. (Of course, it can be contagious in the other direction, too. Nobody hits, so nobody hits.)

In the tenth I led off with an infield chopper that I barely beat out. And with two outs, I scored the winning run on Scutaro’s walk-off hit down the left field line. I loved watching Scutaro racing around the field, trying to get away from Pablo, me and the rest of the mob chasing him. I don’t blame him for running – when I hit that walk-off against the Padres, I got crushed. Scutaro was yelling at Pablo in Spanish as Pablo grabbed him, and we all piled on. I guess we should be thinking about the possibility of injury, but everyone’s so happy after a walk-off we never even think about it.

What’s different about this team right now is that key hits and runs are coming from every spot in the order. I take my job in the No. 8 hole as seriously as Buster takes his job hitting clean-up.

​Hitting eighth is hard. You can ask anybody. Hitting eighth in the National League is one of the toughest spots to hit. If there’s nobody out and nobody on, a pitcher is going to pitch you the same as everybody else. But if there are guys in scoring position, you have to expand the strike zone a little bit because the pitcher’s on deck. It’s up to you to drive those runners in. So you want to put the ball in play, even if you don’t get the perfect pitch. But you don’t want to expand the strike zone too much and find yourself flailing at bad pitches. It’s a fine line.

​On another topic, you might have noticed I am no longer the Wolverine. I know the TV cameras caught me in the dugout in Houston running my fingers up through my beard and trying to poof it out and see how big it was. Some of the guys were telling me I should keep growing it. But when I went 0-for Houston, I thought it was time for a trim. So the clipper came out. And tonight I got three hits, so I think I’ll keep it trimmed, even though I hate to shave.

​It’s been fun to watch the replays of my catch of Pablo’s flip in foul territory in our first game in Houston. It’s been Number 1 on Best Plays of the Week on ESPN, even beating out Felix Hernandez’s perfect game. Fans said a perfect game had been done before, but they’d never seen a play like that. I’ve watched it a bunch of times myself, and I enjoy it as much as any fan. I still can’t tell you how it happened. I saw Pablo falling backward, so I thought the ball might come out of his glove. And then he came forward – and the ball flipped into the air. It was just one of those things that you just react to it.

​Here’s another thing from that Houston series I had never seen before: An outfielder nearly trampling an infielder to catch a cut-off throw. Pagan threw from deep center field, and I had just caught the ball when Blanco – who was trying to catch the cut-off throw — crashed into me and we both went tumbling.

The closest thing I’ve seen to that is Manny Ramirez back in the day when he was in Boston. Johnny Damon throws the ball in from center, and Manny Ramirez for some reason dives and cuts the ball off – even though it was heading right to the shortstop. Manny then turns around and throws it to the shortstop. For no reason. Manny being Manny.

​I asked Gregor in the dugout what he was thinking: Why would you try to catch a cut-off throw? He said the throw was so off-line that he didn’t think I’d be able to reach it. I told him, “With me, you’ll never have to cut a ball off.’’ I know our outfielders’ arms – who has strong and not-so-strong arms — and know where to situate myself for the cutoff.

​Baseball fans often say they come to the park every day because they’re going to see something they’ve never seen before. That is absolutely true for players, too. It’s what makes baseball so fun. You never know what a teammate – or you — might do. It could be something that will never be seen ever again. Sometimes, of course, that’s a good thing.

-Brandon C.

Dead Batteries and Broken Zippers – Brandon Belt

Last week was a great week all around – a sweep to start the second half of the season and before that a trip back home for the All-Star break.

Haylee and I spent the first day back in Texas just hanging out with our parents. Then on Tuesday there was a little bitty get-together at the Barbecue House, which I told you is one of my favorite restaurants in Nacogdoches. It was just my grandma, my mom’s sisters and my coach from Little League. Sure enough, Maw-Maw had a stack of cards for me to sign as soon as I walked in.

Then I watched the All-Star game with some buddies, cheering for our guys like any other fan. They definitely represented the Giants very well. Matt Cain faced a brutal line-up of the best hitters in the American League, and he just shut them down. And Melky getting the MVP – I was so happy for him because he works sooo hard. He’s definitely somebody I look up to. And Pablo getting the triple and Posey scoring a run. It was awesome all around.

Of course when you’re around your friends and family, they want to know what guys are like personally off the field. It’s an easy answer for me because every guy on the team is a good guy.

So after writing about how I always wear my baseball pants old-school, I showed up for a game with long pants that covered my socks. “Kristen’’ and “Claire’’ called me on it in the comments section. Here’s the story. I have two pairs of old-school pants that come down to just below my knees. One of them has had a broken zipper for a while. So I had been wearing the same pair of pants every game. Then the zipper broke on that one. So I had to go grab a pair of Bumgarner’s pants and throw those on. Murph, the clubhouse manager, got the zippers fixed and had my pants back in time for the next game.

Obviously, I should get things fixed more promptly. Like my shaver. I told you last time that I hadn’t shaved in a week because my shaver broke. I was going to get a new one during our last road trip back east. I didn’t. So I went another week. I had a back-up razor but the batteries were dead. Finally I got batteries and shaved the night before the All-Star break. Back home in Texas, I was able to go out and find the shaver I’ve always had, the Peanut.

Another question from the comments: My pregame routine. After we take BP, we’re in the clubhouse for about an hour and a half. So right before the game, I’ll go in the batting cage behind the dugout and hit a few balls to get loose. Then on the field I’ll stretch my legs and upper body. Then I throw with Crawford. Most of us throw with the same guys every game. (If one or the other of us isn’t in the lineup, the other one will find somebody else to throw with.) Then I’ll do a couple sprints and I’m ready for the game.

Thanks, Dave Edlund, for telling me you fished my first home run of 2012 out of McCovey Cove. (And to your friend Greg for grabbing the next one.) The one I’d really like back is the first Splash Hit of my career (from last season). That would be pretty cool. If the person who has that ball wants to negotiate an exchange, I’m open.

Thanks, as always, for reading and for leaving your comments and questions. Wish us luck in Atlanta and Philly

-Brandon B.

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