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Tag:Orioles
Posted on: September 17, 2011 1:16 am
 

Playoff race: Angels can't gain ground



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Former Ranger starter Tommy Hunter helped out his old mates, throwing seven shutout innings in an 8-3 Orioles victory over the Angels, keeping the status quo in the American League West as the Rangers fell 4-0 to the Mariners in Seattle. The Rangers still lead the division by you games.

While Hunter was silencing the Angels' bats, Texas native Blake Beavan shut down the Rangers, throwing eight shutout innings on just four hits, striking out three with no walks. Beavan was the Rangers' first-round pick in 2007, but was traded to Seattle as part of the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Texas last season. The Mariners scored three unearned runs off of Texas starter C.J. Wilson in the third inning before Casper Wells homered in the seventh inning for Seattle.

In Baltimore, the Angels' Dan Haren struggled, allowing seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in five innings, with Mark Reynolds taking him deep in the fifth inning. Haren is now 6-6 with a 3.92 ERA in 18 starts on the road this season and 9-3 with a 2.45 ERA in Anaheim.

Texas Rangers
86-65
Remaining schedule: 2 @ SEA, 3 @ OAK, 3 vs. SEA, 3 @ LAA
Coolstandings.com expectancy of division title: 91.3 percent

Los Angeles Angels
82-68, 3.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 2 @ BAL, 4 @ TOR, 3 v. OAK, 3 v. TEX
Coolstandings.com expectancy of division title: 8.7 percent

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 11:28 am
 

Can Buck Showalter be both manager and GM?

Showalter

By Evan Brunell

The Orioles will undergo a transition this offseason when team president and GM Andy MacPhail leaves the team as is widely expected.

With MacPhail's leaving comes the real question as to who the Orioles will replace MacPhail with. If MacPhail, who has a track record of GMing the Twins and Cubs in the past, can't succeed in Baltimore under overbearing owner Peter Angelos despite supposedly gaining more latitude than previous GMs have, it's going to be very hard to attract strong GM candidates to Baltimore as an intriguing destination. Also complicating matters is Angeles' adoration of manager Buck Showalter, whom was Angelos' No. 1 pick to become the new O's manager ahead of McPhail's preferred Eric Wedge.

There have been multiple reports from multiple outlets lately that Angelos could kill two birds with one stone by hiring Showalter as GM in addition to managerial duties. It's a position Showalter would be hard-pressed to turn down as it would give him a very prestigious role, and one that isn't commonly seen in baseball. GMs in the past have also been responsible for non-player operations, a duty that generally falls to the president now. And player-coaches were very common in previous generations -- but someone acting as both a GM and manager? You don't see that often.

It might have been more believable way back when before both GMing and managing were demanding of a 24/7 job. In this day and age, it would be awfully hard for Showalter to pull off such a role.

But it could be done.

Anything can be done with the proper reinforcements. If Showalter wants to try his hand at managing and GMing, he needs to realize that his primary focus is going to be on getting ready for the night's game. While he'll inevitably need his coaching staff to step up and assume more work than currently responsible for, where Showalter will need help is in the front office. And in this, Baltimore might actually become a coveted destination for potential GMs.

Showalter's going to need a hands-on assistant GM that essentially functions as GM without the title or final say. Someone needs to field all the trade calls, pore over the minor leagues, prepare contract discussions... there is no shortage of duties attributed to a GM these days to the point where a GM needs as much help as he can get, never mind a manager-GM. Any assistant GM that comes into a team with Showalter as manager-GM will be asked to shoulder a lot more responsibility than an actual assistant GM -- to the point that he would end up acting as a glorified GM. This would be an attractive job because the assistant GM would get more hands-on training and expertise, plus would raise his stock with other teams as a potential GM candidate. Showalter could also elect to have two assistant GMs to help with the load.

At the end of the day, is being both manager and GM a good idea? No.

While Showalter could potentially pull this off with the right support, it seems foolhardy for the Orioles to combine two very important jobs. Showalter needs to pick which avenue he wants to go down, or he'll become just another name in an increasingly-long list of failed Orioles GMs.

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 12:46 pm
 

What if MVP was decided like Manager of the Year?



By Matt Snyder


As my esteemed colleague C. Trent Rosecrans pointed out Monday in a really creative and entertaining way, the Manager of the Year award is routinely roped off for certain managers. For example, heading into this season, the Phillies and Red Sox were heavily predicted to make the World Series. The Yankees are the Yankees, and the Giants and Rangers went to the World Series last season. So right there, Charlie Manuel, Terry Francona, Joe Girardi, Bruce Bochy and Ron Washington are virtually eliminated from the chance at winning the Manager of the Year award in their respective leagues.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, because managing is far different from playing. It's totally apples vs. oranges. But it's fun to imagine if the MVP awards were decided in the same fashion. Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez would have zero chance at winning. Former winners like Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton and Dustin Pedroia? Sorry. Heavily predicted 2011 winner Adrian Gonzalez? Cross him off. Sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Ryan Howard? Nope, you guys are supposed to hit for all that power.

Instead, the candidates would be guys having amazing seasons that we might not have expected. Like Kirk Gibson being the runaway NL winner over Manuel. For example, Jose Bautista would have easily won last season in the AL.

Here are four candidates for the MVP of each league, if voters reacted as they did in the Manager of the Year voting -- along with who I think would win and why.

American League

Alex Avila, Tigers
2010 numbers: .228/.316/.340, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 28 R, 12 2B
2011 numbers: .302/.392/.523, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 60 R, 31 2B
The best part about these numbers is they came from out of nowhere. Avila only hit .264 with an .814 OPS in his only season of Double-A. It's not awful, but those are hardly the type of numbers that scream future All-Star. And Avila's likely to get some real MVP votes this year (remember, each ballot gets 10 entries). Don't discount what kind of stamina he has to have to catch 120 games and still keep hitting like this, either. It's been an absolutely stellar campaign for Avila, and he's going to be a starting catcher in the playoffs.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
2010 numbers: Doesn't matter, it was a lost season due to injuries. He only played 10 games.
2011 numbers: .317/.376/.533, 26 HR, 91 RBI, 104 R, 36 SB, 41 2B, 4 3B
He's got a real shot at the real MVP, and it's all due to his power increase. The average, OBP, doubles, triples, runs and steals aren't surprising at all, if you go back to Ellsbury's numbers pre-2010, and he's only 28. So we knew he had a real shot to drastically improve -- but he's approaching 30 home runs and 100 RBI. No one would have predicted that.

Alex Gordon, Royals
2010 numbers: .215/.315/.355, 8 HR, 20 RBI, 34 R, 10 2B, 1 SB (only 74 games due to demotion to minors and injury)
2011 numbers: .299/.371/.500, 21 HR, 82 RBI, 95 R, 45 2B, 16 SB
This wouldn't have been surprising in 2007 ... or 2008 ... or 2009 ... or maybe even 2010. But after four relatively failed seasons in the face of lofty expectations, people kind of gave up on Gordon. He went from a No. 2 prospect in all of baseball to an afterthought. And just when people gave up on him completely, he broke through in a huge way. Those 45 doubles lead all of baseball and he's doing pretty much everything well.

J.J. Hardy, Orioles
2010 numbers: .268/.320/.394, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 44 R
2011 numbers: .264/.304/.483, 26 HR, 68 RBI, 65 R
This is a return to where Hardy was in 2007 and 2008, though his home run rate is the highest it has ever been. He worked his big season into a multi-year contract extension for the Orioles and has solidified the middle infield.

And the winner is ... Alex Avila. It's a really close call over Gordon. With Ellsbury, I believe we all knew the potential was in there and injuries killed him in 2010. The power increase is nice, but Avila and Gordon are more surprising. Hardy's done it before and he's not old. Plus, his numbers pale in comparison to these other three. Sure, Gordon has far exceeded expectations, but I think if you asked most people before the season who was more likely to impress this year between Gordon and Avila, Gordon would be the answer simply based upon minor-league pedigree. That kind of talent doesn't just abandon someone. Gordon starred -- albeit years ago -- but Avila had never hit enough to believe this kind of monster season was possible. I could easily be wrong on this decision, though, as this is total guesswork. To reiterate, it's really close.

National League

Lance Berkman, Cardinals
2010 numbers: .248/.368/.413, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 48 R
2011 numbers: .290/.405/.551, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 79 R
The newly slender "Fat Elvis" shed loads of pounds this past offseason as he was determined to revert back to vintage "Puma." He did. Many mocked the signing by the Cardinals, especially as Berkman had to return to right field. Well, he hasn't been good defensively, but he's swinging the bat like he did back in his prime and the protection he's provided to Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols has been instrumental in keeping the Cardinals in contention for much of the season.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers
2010 numbers: .249/.310/.450, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 82 R, 19 SB
2011 numbers: .318/.397/.566, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 97 R, 38 SB
If he doesn't win the real MVP award it won't be because he didn't do enough for his team. It will be because his team didn't do enough for him. Kemp has absolutely carried the Dodgers' offense this season in every facet. He has an outside shot at the triple crown and the 40/40 club, but he'd have to get scorching hot. Still, from a guy who didn't even hit .250 last season, this has been a rebirth. On the flip-side, we knew Kemp had this potential.

Pablo Sandoval, Giants
2010 numbers: .268/.323/.409, 13 HR, 63 RBI, 61 R
2011 numbers: .301/.345/.516, 19 HR, 60 RBI, 50 R
If the counting stats don't look overly impressive this year, that's because he's only played in 103 games. Last season it was 152. He was so disappointing in 2010 that he only started five playoff games -- just once in the World Series. It's been a huge bounce-back season for Sandoval, despite the fact that his team has regressed a bit.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
2010 numbers: .273/.356/.442, 17 HR, 69 RBI, 73 R, 27 2B, 18 SB
2011 numbers: .296/.378/.547, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 100 R, 38 3B, 21 SB
Here's another guy who will get real-life MVP consideration. While 2010 was a disappoining campaign, this is the Upton the D-Backs drafted first overall in 2005. Look at the number jumps across the board for Upton, and he's still only 24. And his team appears headed for the postseason. Like Kemp, however, we knew this was inside Upton.

And the winner is ... Lance Berkman. The other three players are young and have tons of potential, so their big turnarounds aren't entirely surprising, even if incredibly impressive. At least Upton, probably Kemp and maybe Sandoval were all predictable to have seasons like this. Kemp was definitely a bounce-back candidate, but not many would have envisioned him to be this huge in 2011. Berkman is 35 and many believed he was done as a productive major leaguer -- especially since the Cardinals were moving him back to the outfield. This one feels obvious, as opposed to the Avila/Gordon decision, which I'm still second-guessing ...

Wednesday: What if the Cy Young was decided with Manager of the Year criteria?

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 11:46 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 11:52 am
 

On Deck: Strasmas, McGowan, AL Wild Card race

OD

By Matt Snyder

It's September 11, 2011. Much smarter people than myself have written about today, but things other than baseball should certainly be somewhere in our minds. Ten years ago today was a rough one. Let's be happy for what we have and cherish life. When you do stumble back to baseball for entertainment -- and it's essential for maintaining sanity -- you can follow all the live action on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. For me, though, it feels like baseball takes a back seat to the 10-year anniversary of a day that was so horrible, yet brought us all together as one, big family.

Strasmas ... again: It's Strasmas in D.C. Phenom Stephen Strasburg (0-0, 0.00) will make his second start of the season Sunday for the Nationals, as they host the Astros. He worked five shutout innings Tuesday, allowing just two hits while striking out four. In his major-league career, Strasburg has a 2.71 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 73 innings. Expect him to work somewhere from four to six innings, depending upon how the pitch count falls. Henry Sosa (2-3, 4.11) takes the hill for the Astros, whose next loss will match a franchise-high 97 for the season. Astros at Nationals, 1:35 p.m. ET.

Dustin's Return: Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan hasn't started a game in the majors since July 8, 2008, but he'll give it a go Sunday against the Orioles. He's had several surgeries -- two to his shoulder and one to his knee -- and a long road of rehab back, so it's difficult to not root for him. He allowed three runs in four relief innings earlier this week, but it feels like a clean slate in his start Sunday. Tommy Hunter (3-3, 5.28) takes the hill for the Orioles. Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET.

Sunday's Big Game: If the Rays beat the Red Sox, it will only be a 3 1/2 game lead for the Sox in the AL Wild Card race. And the Rays visit the Red Sox for a four-game series on their upcoming road trip. As if the stakes weren't high enough, two All-Stars take the mound. James Shields (14-10, 2.77) squares off against Jon Lester (15-6, 2.93). Last time the two started in the same game, the result was a 3-1 Red Sox win -- in which Shields only allowed a three-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury in one of his major-league leading 11 complete games. Rays at Red Sox, 1:40 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: September 10, 2011 1:17 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Someone gets to Kimbrel



By Matt Snyder


Cardinals' late offense. I utterly refuse to put Craig Kimbrel in the "down" section for having his 37 2/3-inning scoreless streak broken, but it needs to be mentioned, so we're going to the Cardinals here for being the team to break it up. The Braves' rookie closer had not been scored upon since June 11 until Friday night. He had converted 25 straight saves in that time period. Friday, though, the Cardinals showed he was human. Skip Schumaker singled to open the ninth, following by a fielder's choice and strikeout. So it seemed like just another Kimbrel save. But then Rafael Furcal drew a walk. And then Ryan Theriot did the same. All of a sudden, the bases were loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a 3-1 Braves lead. Who walks to the plate? Why, Albert Pujols, of course. It's the type of matchup that makes baseball great. Power vs. power. One swing can end it for either side, or Kimbrel could sit Pujols down himself. Pujols ended up going down the first-base line for a base hit. It scored two to tie the game before Jason Heyward gunned the ball to second base. He would have had Pujols dead to rights -- as he tried for a double -- but then Theriot attempted to get home and the Braves nailed him instead to end the inning. Still, a Nick Punto sacrifice fly would win the game for the Cardinals next inning against Scott Linebrink. But the mighty Kimbrel had been exposed as a human being and that was the big news of the game. Let us all tip our caps to him for the very impressive scoreless innings streak.

Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians. Big night for the young third baseman, as he hit a two-run home run off Mark Buehrle ... twice. The Indians won 8-4. While the Tigers have run away with the AL Central, the Indians have seen enough from several young players, like Chisenhall, to consider this season a success to this point. It will be very intriguing to see the strides made in 2012.

Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles. Maybe the intervention helped? He said he'd start listening to Metallica, after all, so maybe Guthrie did and was fired up for the start Friday night. He shut out a good Blue Jays' offense for seven innings, allowing just three hits in a 2-0 Orioles victory. In the process, he lowered his season ERA to 4.29.



John Lackey, Red Sox. There might be a Wild Card race after all, as the Rays worked the Red Sox over, 7-2, Friday night. The biggest problem was Lackey. Again. This would be the perfect time for Lackey to step up and earn his gargantuan contract, considering the injuries in the Red Sox's starting rotation. Instead, Lackey went out and allowed five hits, three walks and five earned runs in just three innings. His ERA is now 6.30.

Joe Girardi, Yankees. Rough ninth for the skipper. He pinch ran for A-Rod with Eduardo Nunez, only to send Nunez on the exact pitch the Angels called for a pitchout. The result was Nunez being nailed at second with ease. Then Girardi went with Aaron Laffey and Luis Ayala on the hill in the ninth. The result was a 2-1 loss. On the bright side, the Yankees don't seem in any danger of missing the playoffs. Also, they were playing in their third city in three days. So, in and of itself, this wasn't a huge deal.

Jimmy Paredes, Astros. In the 11th inning, Paredes gave the Nationals a walk-off throwing error. With one out and runners on first and second, Paredes fielded a bouncing ball at third base and looked to at least get a force out at second -- if not an inning-ending double play. But he threw the ball into right field, which allowed Ryan Zimmerman to come around and score. The Astros have now lost 96 games. In the history of the franchise, they've never lost more than 97 in a season.

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Posted on: September 9, 2011 5:54 pm
 

Guthrie faces intervention in Fan Cave

By Matt Snyder

Orioles starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie has a problem, in the eyes of the guys from the MLB Fan Cave, so they decided to do something about it. You see, Guthrie's favorite type of music is boy bands. He names Backstreet Boys, N Sync and Justin Bieber, among others. So, when someone needs help, naturally, his friends stage an intervention.

Check out the video of Guthrie being surprised that his visit to the MLB Fan Cave was actually a surprise intervention from two very concerned individuals. He also got a letter from Orioles' legend Cal Ripken, Jr. We should all have fans this caring ...



All that's that ends well, even in the world of satire. He's willing to fix his problem, so good on him. I'm certainly glad Guthrie's giving Metallica shot, which happens to be my all-time favorite band.

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Posted on: September 9, 2011 1:30 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kennedy notches 19th win

Ian Kennedy

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: Kennedy picked up his 19th victory of the season as the Diamondbacks beat the Padres 4-1 on Thursday. It was the 13th consecutive victory at Chase Field for Arizona, which is now 83-61 on the season and gaining on Milwaukee (85-60) for the second seed in the NL playoffs. Kennedy allowed just one run on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out 11 Padres. Kennedy has won each of his last four starts and 11 of his last 12. While most expect Roy Halladay or Clayton Kershaw to win the National League's Cy Young Award, Kennedy will have to be in the discussion.

Ricky Romero, Blue Jays: Toronto's left-hander entered Thursday's game against Boston with a 2-6 ERA in 11 career starts -- more than double his career ERA of 3.76. In two starts against the Red Sox before Thursday, Romero had given up 11 runs on 17 hits and eight walks in 8 2/3 innings. WIth that in mind, Thursday had to be a relief, as Romero silenced the Red Sox through 6 2/3 inning before giving up an RBI double to Jacoby Ellsbury to break up the shutout and ending his night. Reliever Casey Hansen gave up a two-run single with both runs charged to Romero. In all, Romero allowed three runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking three -- but most importantly for him, picked up the 7-4 victory against the Red Sox.

Robert Andino, Orioles: Baltimore's second baseman tied Thursday's game against the Yankees in the eighth inning with an RBI single and then won it with a single down the third-base line to score Nolan Reimold with the winning run in a 5-4 Orioles victory. Baltimore beat New York in extras on Wednesday as well, even though that game was in New York, not Baltimore.


Drew Storen, Nationals: The second game of the Dodgers-Nationals game was rained out, but Storen probably wishes the first game was called, too. The Washington closer had only pitched in two of the Nationals last 14 games and looked rusty when called into the tie game in the ninth inning. Storen gave up three hits, hit a batter and walked another in 2/3 of an inning before being lifted for Collin Balester who got Matt Kemp to fly out to end the inning, but not before the damage was done in an eventual 7-4 Nationals' loss.

Corey Luebke, Padres: Luebke didn't pitch poorly, allowing just two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings -- but against Kennedy, two runs were enough. Both runs came on solo homers -- by Paul Goldscmidt in the fourth and Justin Upton in the sixth.  Luebke has given up 11 homers this season and seven of them are to the Diamondbacks -- three by Upton. Xavier Nady, Collin Cowgill and Aaron Hill have also taken Luebke deep this season.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: Pedroia was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts and left five men on base in Boston's loss to Toronto. But it wasn't just Thursday's game that gets Pedroia here. THe Red Sox second baseman and former MVP had just 1 hit in 20 at-bats in the series against the Blue Jays, ending with a strikeout with two men on to end the game. It was only the second time Pedroia has struck out three times in a game this season and the third time since the All-Star break that he struck out more than once in a game.

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:23 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Williams' gem leads Angels

Jerome Williams

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jerome Williams, Angels: Williams was one of three pitchers to take a no-hitter into the sixth inning along with Oakland's Guillermo Moscoso and Philadelphia's Roy Oswalt, but neither of those pitchers was pitching for such high stakes. With the Rangers losing earlier in the day to the Rays, the Angels took the field Wednesday night knowing they could make up ground on their rivals in the only real playoff race left. Williams retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced before Seattle's Trayvon Robinson homered to lead off the sixth inning and put Los Angeles in a 1-0 hole. It looked as if Robinson's stellar start would go for naught until the Angels rallied for three runs in the eighth inning to give Robinson and the Angels the 3-1 victory and to pull to 2.5 games behind the Rangers. Robinson's homer was the only hit the Mariners would record, as Williams struck out five and walked one.

Mark Reynolds, Orioles: Reynolds struck out four times (fun stat for the guy who's always sitting next to me at baseball games, strikeouts are worth one out, just like any other way a player makes an out), but with two outs in the 11th inning, Reynolds came through against Hector Noesi with an RBI single to give Baltimore a 5-4 victory in the Bronx.

Carlos Pena, Cubs: Pena was hitting just .135 off of left-handed pitchers and Reds lefty Bill Bray had limited left-handed hitters to just a .188 batting average this season -- so Dusty Baker's decision to replace Logan Ondrusek with Bray was sound. It just didn't work. With the game tied at 3 and one on and one out in the eighth inning, Pena caught up to Bray's first-pitch slider that didn't slide and put it on Sheffield Avenue for a 6-3 Cubs victory. Pena has five home runs and 16 RBI against the Reds this season.


A.J. Burnett, Yankees: As far as Burnett starts go, the Yankee whipping boy wasn't too bad on Wednesday, allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking four. No, those aren't great numbers, but it's certainly good for Burnett this season. However, he did make history -- and not the kind he'd like -- on Wednesday with three wild pitches. It was the eighth time he's recorded at least three wild pitches in his career, the most in the modern history. Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro and Tommy John all had seven games with three wild pitches, which is pretty decent company. Burnett has 23 wild pitches this season, the most in baseball.

Daniel Bard, Red Sox: Thanks to Bard, Tim Wakefield failed in his eighth attempt at his 200th career victory. With Boston leading 8-6 in the eighth inning, Bard hit the first batter he faced and after loading the bases and recording two outs, he gave up the lead by walking Eric Thames and Jose Bautista to tie the game. Matt Albers then came in to relieve Bard and gave up a three-run double to Edwin Encarnacion, who drove in five in the game to give the Jays the lead for good. Wakefield wasn't great, allowing five runs (four earned) and three hits in five innings. He walked three and hit two more, but was in line to record the W.

Orlando Cabrera, Giants: Many around the Bay Area are wondering why Giants manager Bruce Bochy is sticking with Cabrera over rookie Brandon Crawford at shortstop everyday. It didn't get any better in the team's 3-1 loss to the Padres on Wednesday. In the eighth inning, Cabrera dropped an easy popup behind the infield by Wil Venable, who later scored on a Cameron Maybin triple to give San Diego a two-run cushion going into the ninth with closer Heath Bell on the mound. It was Cabrera's fifth error in 30 games with the Giants. He's also struggling at the plate, going 3 for 28 in the team's last 10 games, including an 0-for-3 night on Wednesday.

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