Giants blow big lead, recover in extras to best the D’Backs, increase NL West lead

By Morris Phillips

Trade deadline activity that strengthens a competing club is energizing for the fans and organization. But it can be agonizing for players who may be on the departing end of a big trade.

Once the trade deadline passes, nervousness ceases and everybody gets back to work.

On Monday night in Phoenix, Alex Dickerson got back to work.

The Giants’ burly left fielder hit a grand slam to give the Giants a big lead, only to see it evaporate, and force the club to regain control in extra innings in an 11-8 victory over the Diamondbacks. With the acquisition of Kris Bryant, Dickerson had to be wondering about his current status with the club with Bryant offering a better option for the team’s outfield spots. But Monday found Bryant and Dickerson in the lineup together, a clear sign that manager Gabe Kapler hadn’t forgotten what a menace Dickerson has been when facing Arizona.

“He’s had quite a bit of success against the D-backs,” Kapler said. “He’s had quite a bit of success in this ballpark. I think he feels especially confident.”

“It hasn’t been the greatest year for me to this point, but they know and I know that I’m better than how I’ve played,” Dickerson said. “I just needed that kind of day where it all comes together. It was a good feeling to have everybody pulling for me.”

Kapler made it clear that while more is expected of Dickerson, hitting just .217, not much more is expected. Being an occasional home threat and delivering in that manner may be enough.

“I just think he needs to be the better version of Alex Dickerson. That’s a guy who’s a really tough out at the plate against righties and occasionally has games with big damage like he had today. I don’t want Alex to put any additional pressure on himself to be perfect every time out. Just be productive and keep the line moving.”

Dickerson’s slam off reliever J.B. Bukauskas in the fifth was typical, Giants home run express delivery: a poorly placed pitch in the hitting zone that wasn’t missed. That Dickerson sent the pitch 437 feet for his career-best 11th home run of the season said it all. The slam ended an 0 for 17 stretch for the slugger.

Despite building a 7-1 lead, the Giants found themselves in a nail bitter with a D’Backs club that came in 40 games below .500 and was embarassed by the Dodgers on Sunday, losing 13-0. Josh Reddick got the Arizona comeback started with a two-run shot off Anthony DeSclafani in the fifth. Asdrubral Cabrera followed with another two-run shot, and Christian Walker’s two-run double got the D’Backs even in the seventh.

Reliever Jay Jackson was victimized by Walker, a surprise after Jackson gave the eight, neat appearances in July, and had put himself in line for a bigger role out of the Giants’ pen. Jackson’s command issues on Monday were apparent prior to facing Walker, but Kapler was reluctant to turn to any of his top three relievers after a weekend of extended activity against the Astros.

With the game tied, Kapler did find some success with newly reacquired Tony Watson and hot arm Jarlin Garcia, who pitched the ninth and tenth innings. That gave the Giants a chance to catch a collective breather, and rally in the tenth. Buster Posey started it with a double that chased home Brandon Crawford, the placed runner to start an extra inning. Dickerson’s line out advanced Posey to third, and Austin Slater walked. Steven Duggar followed with an RBI single, and Donovan Solano capped the rally with a ground out that allowed Slater to score.

The Giants gained a half game on the Dodgers and Padres, increasing their lead in the NL West to 3 1/2 games. The Giants have won six of eight and moved a season-best 28 games above .500 at 67-39. The season series against Arizona continues to be lopsided with the Giants capturing 10 of 11 meetings thus far.

On Tuesday, the veteran matchup sure to gain attention takes place with Johnny Cueto facing Madison Bumgarner, the former Giant and 2014 World Series hero at 6:40pm.

Where’s the Help? Gomes, Marte and Harrison answer the call for the A’s in 8-3 win over the Angels

By Morris Phillips

Veterans making their debut with a new club are more likely to go well than a rookie getting his MLB debut in the face of a powerful, above average big league offense.

That in a nutshell was the story of the A’s-Angels series finale in Anaheim that went to the A’s 8-3 on Sunday.

The A’s trio of trade deadline acquisitions–Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte–combined for six hits and three stolen bases. Reid Detmers, 22, the Angels highly touted pitching prospect with just 13 professional appearances under his belt, allowed two homers and six earned runs in taking the loss in his big league debut.

“Obviously, I’ve been dreaming of that moment since I was a little kid,” Detmers said. “Obviously, it didn’t go as planned. But that’s baseball. Just got to bounce back. I’m looking forward to my next start. I’m just enjoying the moment right now.”

Detmers struggled with his fastball command, couldn’t get the proper touch on his offspeed pitches, and saw his entire afternoon blow up in the third inning when Matt Olson hit a three-run homer followed by Gomes’ two-run shot. That wiped out a 3-0 Angels lead and sent the home team, desperate to change the tenor of the division rivalry, to a 12th loss to the A’s in 16 meetings in 2021.

“The slider and the curveball kind of became moot,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He just could not land them where he wanted to and then it put them in good hitting counts, and they got him.”

The A’s early rally allowed Daulton Jeffries to ditch the jitters, expected as the A’s No. 4 prospect was making just his second major league appearance with the first coming last season in a COVID-protect environment, which translated was an empty stadium without opposing fans looking to throw you off your stride. Veteran catcher Gomes did the trick there as well, settling Jeffries.

“Yan came up to me and said, ‘Hey, your stuff is good. Just take a little more time between pitches and breathe,’” Jeffries said. “My mind was relaxed but my body was ready to go, so I just had to create a little balance.”

Jeffries retired eight of the final 10 hitters he faced, and a quartet of A’s relievers took it from there. Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman, newly acquired Andrew Chafina and Sergio Romo each handled an inning, combing to allow the Angels just two hits, and no more than one baserunner at any juncture, ideal for stopping a team intent on a comeback dead in its tracks.

Meanwhile, the A’s added on with Gomes’ RBI single in the fifth, and Jed Lowrie’s single in the seventh that knocked in two runs. If Gomes, acquired from the Nationals, sounds like the second coming of “Crash” Davis from Bull Durham from his multifaceted contributions on Sunday, he’s not. But the 34-year old catcher with his fourth club in his 10th major league season is having a resurgent season, clubbing 10 home runs and batting .274 in 63 games with the Nats, and one game with the A’s. Gomes has now hit double-digit homers in seven of his 10 seasons, and will likely be a quality backup to Sean Murphy behind the plate.

Marte provided three hits–and three stolen bases–just what an offense that’s capable but has been prone to droughts needs. The A’s are below average in batting average, and prone to strikeouts without being overly capable of drawing walks. Marte helps in all those areas, currently hitting .306 with 32 walks drawn in 63 games.

Harrison contributed a hit, but wowed at second base where he turned a pair of double plays on balls hit by Shohei Ohtani. That marked the first time Ohtani’s been doubled up twice in a game this season, and caught the eye of manager Bob Melvin.

“Those are pretty good double plays, you don’t see Ohtani hit into too many double plays,” Melvin said.

The A’s return to the Coliseum on Tuesday for a meeting with the Padres, and a glut of off-days in the upcoming 10 days will determine whether Jeffries gets another turn in the rotation or James Kaprelian’s health improves enough for him to reassume his position in the rotation.

Homers in Bunches: Giants slug their way to 8-6 win over the Astros

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Could the power outage in the Giants’ clubhouse at Oracle Park continue for a fifth straight day?

No, and neither could Zach Greinke’s magical touch at Oracle Park.

Greinke has never lost a game at Oracle Park, posting a microscopic ERA in the process, and barely being tested in the majority of his six wins. But these days, the Giants have a brand new approach, and Greinke found out first hand that things might be different going forward. And when was Greinke notified of the change? Probably three home runs into the four homer barrage the Giants hit him with, all in the game’s first five innings.

“Three of them might have been home runs still in any situation,” Greinke said of his start, the first time he’d allowed four home runs to the Giants, and the first time he’d allowed any club that many homers since 2019. “They weren’t cheap.”

In 53 innings pitched at Oracle Park, the 218-game winner described as a future Hall of Famer in the Astros’ media notes, had never allowed a home run. In fact, his dominance was the essence of velvet: Greinke averaged little more than six strikeouts in his previous eight starts along McCovey Cove, showing that he was content to let the Giants get themselves out without needing to display a dominant stance.

What’s new is the Giants are swinging harder. Among the few quality home run hitting teams not to feature one, standout slugger, the team’s across-the-board approach is to look for pitches to launch, swing hard, and don’t get discouraged by strikeouts or meager batting averages. Against Greinke, who’s not only unlikely to allow a big fly, but also stingy with teams trying to string together base hits, the approach works. Maybe not everytime, but during a day game in a park where the park needs ideal conditions to surrender big hits, it worked on Saturday.

“We put some really good swings on the ball. All the homers were pretty much no-doubters,” Ruf said. “Although it was a nice day to hit and the ball seemed to be traveling well, those would have been homers in any other day game.”

The Giants’ homer drought–none over the first four games of the homestand–ended with a bang. The four, consecutive games without at least one home run was a first in manager Gabe Kapler’s run of 164 games at the helm.

The Astros, considered MLB’s top-rated offensive club, attempted to keep up the pace. They homered three times, two of those from Aledmys Diaz, and during a stretch of nine half-innings in which runs were scored in eight of them, the teams went back-and-forth, wiping out any leads that one of clubs established. But that pattern broke in the sixth when Brandon Crawford singled home a run with two runners aboard to give the Giants a 7-6 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The only run on the afternoon the Giants would produce without hitting a home run was the difference, and it came after Greinke departed, allowing him to escape with his undefeated record in San Francisco in tact.

Alex Wood, described as the Giants’ stopper with his excellent record in games following a Giants’ loss, was anything but, allowing six hits–two of them home runs–in his abbreviated 68-pitch outing. But often, it’s better to be lucky than good, and Wood benefitted from the Giants’ offensive breakout, and a bullpen effort that saw four relievers following him and allow just one, meaningless base hit. Jake McGee capped that effort with a perfect ninth to earn his 22nd save.

Ironically, the Giants played without newly acquired Kris Bryant from the Cubs, who was flying to San Francisco during the game Saturday. Bryant will be in uniform on Sunday, and will assume a lofty position in a lineup where he will lead the Giants in hits (87), be tied for the lead in home runs (18), and second in doubles (19). To say the Giants lineup will be not only loaded, but versatile, would be understatement. But the objective is to do it on the field, and not on paper, over the season’s final 59 games.

In a final move before the trade deadline the Giants reacquired Tony Watson from the Angels with Sam Selman the key piece headed to Anaheim. Watson has a recent, string of exemplary outings but he also moves into a crowded situation in the Giants’ bullpen. Currently, the Giants have relievers Dominic Leone, Jack McGee, Tyler Rogers, Jarlin Garcia and Jose Alvarez with ERA’s under 3.00. Reliable arms Caleb Baragar and Reyes Moronta could also be the mix as well at some point if they recover from injury.

On Sunday, the Giants have Logan Webb starting in a matchup with Houston’s Luis Garica at 1:05pm.

Giants shut down the Dodgers, anticipate their rivals making the biggest moves at the trade deadline

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The Padres have the flashiest moves, reportedly those will include a deadline deal for Max Scherzer within the next 24 hours.

The Dodgers are the current World Champions, talented, and looking to add a piece or two to keep them on top.

The Giants aren’t saying or doing much, but they’ve got the most wins, the most remaining home games, and after Thursday’s reaffirming 5-0 win, the respect of the Dodgers.

“We have so much respect for those guys. Obviously, that’s a very good ballclub,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “They’ve earned this right now, up to this point. And they played better the last seven games, clearly. All we can do is turn the page, get ready for Arizona and try to play good baseball. That’s the only focus right now that we have. We’ve still got a ways to go.”

A ways to go is down to 60 remaining games in 2021, only three of those against the Dodgers. The third-place Padres are six games behind the Giants and they have 10 of their final 19 games against the division leaders. How do you handicap this race? Quite obviously, credible cases can be made for each of the two challengers, Los Angeles and San Diego, especially with the Giants more an more likely to stand pat at the deadline.

Could the Giants surprise with their lineup of champs a half decade removed along with aging wonders Johnny Cueto, Evan Longoria, Darin Ruf? More and more, it feels like we’re about to find out.

First place is a good position to be in,” Brandon Crawford answered when asked what should the Giants do next. “We could always add pieces, there are some guys that are available that could probably help us. But we have the best record in baseball so we’re doing things pretty also. If we add, great. If we don’t, great.” 

The Giants did what they needed to do Thursday. Leveling the season series with the Dodgers at 8-8 after losing the first four, and six of the first nine is huge. The Giants jumped out quick with Crawford coming off the injured list and driving in two runs in his first at-bat. The opening rally was pure opportunism, and the Giants drew three walks from Dodgers’ starter David Price then saw Crawford bounce a winner down the third base line as he clearly looked to take advantage of the defensive shift that conceded the third base line with Justin Turner playing in the shortstop hole.

“Walking three guys in that first inning, that puts myself in a tough spot, puts our team in a tough spot as well,” Price said. “Crawford did a good job of staying inside that fastball. He shot it down the third-base line. That was a big hit for them.”

The theme of striking with two outs continued for the Giants as they added single runs in the second and fourth innings. In the seventh, Lamonte Wade Jr. gave the Giants their third RBI double to cap the scoring and send the Dodgers to San Francisco International Airport post haste.

From a pitching perspective, Cueto gave the Giants all the remaining momentum they needed by pitching into the sixth inning and not allowing any runs. Cueto went the entire month of July until Thursday without a win. That put the veteran on the spot as potential spot in the rotation to upgrade. But Cueto’s response was emphatic. The veteran shut the Dodgers down with a greater percentage of fastballs, better performance the first time through the order, which had been an issue. And to top it off, and in support of a blueprint going forward, the 35-year old threw fewer than 80 pitches before he was lifted which maybe the path for him to follow allowing him to ramp up his pitches earlier in starts and not worry about getting as deep in ballgames.

“I kept telling myself that I needed to be very aggressive against these hitters because they’re difficult and hard hitters,” Cueto said after the game through his interpreter.

The Dodgers one shot to make things interesting came and went with Cody Bellinger’s at-bat in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs. But reliever Jarlin Garcia–a name gaining prominence in the team’s pecking order–came on struck out the Dodgers’ slugger on three pitches.

The Giants gave catcher Buster Posey the day off as anticipated, but also did not rule out their iconic player’s return on Friday night against the Astros with his early exit on Wednesday not being ruled due to a concussion. The team said the move was precautionary, and they got good news when that belief was confirmed Thursday.

Kevin Gausman gets the start on Friday against the Astros in a matchup with Framber Valdez.

Posey hurt, Giants embarassed in lopsided 8-0 loss to the Dodgers

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Wednesday night was a stark reminder that the Giants face a daunting task in attempting to unseat the World Champion Dodgers.

Walker Buehler set the tone, pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, as the Dodgers cruised to a 8-0 win over the Giants. The Giants remain two games ahead of their rival atop the NL West, with four remaining meetings between the clubs, all at Oracle Park.

Buehler has faced the Giants five times this season, and gone 3-0 with a 0.79 ERA. He’s been dominant, the clear counterpoint to all the upheaval the Dodgers have experienced with their lineup and starting rotation.

“We all know how good he is in October,” manager Dave Roberts said. “The challenge for him, the next level, was to put it together in the regular season. He’s done that to this point. To throw 100 pitches and go deep into games with the consistency, it’s been a big bonus considering all that we’ve had to go through this year.”

“He doesn’t give in much,” Wilmer Flores said of Buehler. “He hasn’t made many mistakes. I got only one mistake, and it was a fly ball. When you’re facing pitchers like that, you have to be ready for that mistake. If you miss it, it’s going to be a long game.”

Anthony DeSclafani struggled for the Giants, allowing four runs in the first three innings, and saw his personal record against the Dodgers fall to 1-8. DeSclafani was challenged from the early stages, allowing six hits while recording just eight outs before manager Gabe Kapler lifted his starter.

The Dodgers added three runs in the seventh, and struggling slugger Clay Bellinger, hitting just .165, homered in the eighth to complete the scoring.

The Giants had registered three, consecutive wins against the Dodgers, all with the winning push coming in the ninth inning. The stretch troubled the Dodgers, especially Roberts, who was ejected in the ninth inning of the first two losses. Having the season series evened at 7-7 was quite shocking to the Dodgers as well after they won the first four meetings, and six of the first nine. A response was likely, and Buehler and a patient group of hitters at the top of the Los Angeles lineup set the tone for a lopsided result.

Buster Posey was dinged by a foul ball behind the plate in the third inning, and was removed from the game in the fourth with concerns of a concussion, although all indications were the move was precautionary. Posey wasn’t expected to be in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale, but he will be evaluated for his availability on Friday when the Astros come to Oracle Park.

Brandon Crawford is expected to come off the injured list and start at shortstop on Thursday, welcome news for the Giants who are also anticipating the return of Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Tommy LaStella to bolster a limited infield.

With the trade deadline on Friday, the Giants are likely to examine their starting rotation closely, especially after DeSclafani’s bad outing and his struggles against the Dodgers. Speculation continues that Washington’s Max Scherzer is among the Giants’ targets and that Scherzer may be willing to waive his no-trade clause to join a contender in San Francisco.

On Thursday, the Giants will turn to Johnny Cueto in a veteran matchup with David Price. The duo have combined to win nearly 300 games in their careers with Price registering 154 wins.

Here Comes the Trade Deadline: Giants will be buyers, albeit smart buyers

By Morris Phillips

The Dodgers have the shiniest rings, the flashiest talent and superior depth, and money, always good at the trade deadline.

The Padres have a deep roster, Fernando Tatis Jr. and a wheeler-dealer mentality that trumps any seen previously at the big league level.

The Giants? They have a two-game lead in the NL West, the most remaining home games, and a pragmatic approach that’s almost guaranteed to underwhelm most trade deadline evaluators.

How will the Giants make this work?

As best they can, given their obvious restraints.

Team president Farhan Zaidi has made a bunch of progress in his nearly two years at the helm. The Giants farm system is healthy, the salary structure has clear definition, and this summer–when numerous, big ticket contracts come off the books–is the critical period for the organization to strike in the free agent market.

But the team wants to win now, and capitalize on its stature of being ahead of schedule, and ahead of the pack with MLB’s best won-loss record through 99 games. The schedule will be a factor in the decision making: only six of the remaining 63 games are against the Dodgers. Instead the Giants will see San Diego and Colorado 10 times, and Arizona nine. They’ll also see Milwaukee seven times, and the Braves and Mets six times each. Their home heavy schedule is considerably softer than say the Dodgers, who are on the road for 12 of the next 17, and nine straight within the last three weeks of the season.

The Giants won’t do as much as the Dodgers or Padres. The Dodgers want another starter–Trevor Bauer may not pitch again this season–and that won’t be cheap. The Padres are weighing big options as well. The Giants will settle for an extra bullpen arm, or an under-the-radar starting pitcher as long as neither cost them a Joey Bart or Marco Luciano, who are being groomed to be future, homegrown stars.

Positionally, the Giants will rely on their trainers to get Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford healthy. With those four in the mix, the Giants will be loaded with lineup options around the diamond. Any new names added to that mix would have to be overwhelming, and likely replace on the names already in the fold.

A’s drop another one in Seattle, have competition for 2nd wild card spot

By Morris Phillips

Only one major league club is neither currently holding a postseason spot or tethered to an uninspiring .500 won-loss record or below. Increasing the growing interest around that club: they haven’t made a postseason appearance since 2001. That only one club would hold this distinction so close to the trade deadline is unusual.

But thanks to the Oakland A’s and a string of three, consecutive one-run losses, the Seattle Mariners are picking up steam and notoriety.

“It’s been preached this rebuild so much, but I mean we’re right there on the edge of this thing,” Seattle’s Kyle Seager said. “Certainly you would like to have them make moves and get the team as good as we possibly can.”

The A’s came to Seattle looking to create space between themselves and the Mariners. Instead they won the opener, and spent an additional three days in the Emerald City being miserable.

“Last night stung,” said Sunday’s A’s starter Cole Irvin. “Anytime you lose a one-run game against a team in your division, and on top of that, fighting for the Wild Card spot in your possession, it’s not easy to swallow. We’re gonna have to bounce back here and collect ourselves.”

So for now, the AL West is a three-team battle, and that increases intrigue with the trade deadline approaching this week. The Mariners in particular have players that have tremendous value on the trade market, most notably slugger Mitch Haniger and resurgent, remade reliever Kendall Graveman. Now with the longest playoff drought in the game hanging over their heads, they’ll have no choice but to hang onto their assets, as well as look to add a couple of pieces.

“The teams that feel like they have a chance to go after a division title or a Wild Card berth, there’s going to be a lot of movement,” manager Scott Servais said. “I think it all comes down to the last 72 hours, and being a part of a lot of those discussions, in my past, I realize how that all works.”

Marco Gonzales pitched into the sixth inning for Seattle, and left with a 4-2 lead courtesy of a four-run, third inning that saddled Irvin with the loss. Kyle Seager, Luis Torrens and Tom Murphy came up with RBI hits in the inning, and the A’s found themselves unable to mount a suitable response. Seth Brown’s solo shot off Casey Sadler brought the A’s within 4-3 in the seventh, but that was all they could muster.

The Mariners improved to 23-8 in one-run ballgames, and pulled within a game-and-a-half of the A’s for the second wild card. Seattle started fast two seasons ago–the last time they were as many as eight games above .500–but then they went into the tank. By the All-Star break, their 2019 season had already fallen apart. Since 2001, Seattle has won 90 games twice and finished second in the AL West three times. In that same span, the A’s have made nine postseason appearances, but have advanced to the ALCS only once.

Now both teams are in each other’s cross hairs. It figures to be exciting.

“As tough as it’s been, we know we’re a team that can get hot or ride it out. We just need a big hit or a big game,” Matt Olson said. “Something to spark us a little bit and get rolling.”

Giant Jump: Posey gets plenty of help in dispatching the Dodgers 7-2 in big series opener

By Morris Phillips

Weren’t expecting Buster Posey to go star power on his first at-bat off the injured list? Probably weren’t expecting the Giants to move into first place in the NL West and stay there for nearly two months either.

The Giants got the jump on the Dodgers in this critical, four-game series on Monday with a 7-2 win, and they did it as only they can: with contributions from a bunch of guys, some of them virtually nameless.

Posey was the biggest name, homering in the first inning to put the Giants up 2-0. In a series involving baseball’s two best teams, his blast made a statement.

“To see him come out, step up to the plate and hit a big home run for us was incredibly impressive,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I thought he had great at-bats throughout the night.”

The disappointment of not making the statement Posey did stung the Dodgers. Manager Dave Roberts sure expressed that, after his club couldn’t push across any runs for the game’s final eight innings.

“Obviously we’ve got these guys three more times” this week, Roberts said. “I know my focus is to win a baseball game tomorrow. That’s all we can control.”

The Dodgers blew anoher opportunity to catch the Giants atop the division, they’ll get more opportunities, but so far none have been cashed in. Meanwhile, the Giants continue their unlikely season with their postseason and division win probability numbers increasing substantially. The Giants moved into first place May 31, and despite some hiccups, they’ve remained there ever since.

The first inning had all the fireworks with both teams coming up with back-to-back homers. Posey and Wilmer Flores gave the Giants a 3-0 lead, then Max Muncy and Justin Turner answered against Kevin Gausman, who had a rough return from emergency leave due to complications with his wife’s childbirth.

Not much offensively happened after the first, but both pitchers were doomed. The Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin lasted just four innings, Gausman three.

“I’m not locating well with the heater,” Gonsolin said. “Slider is hit or miss. Splitter is about hit or miss. Curveball’s actually decent right now.”

Gonsolin’s only gone past the fourth inning once in seven starts. That’s an issue for the Dodgers now that Trevor Bauer’s availability is at the height of uncertainty. The Giants exploiting the issue of Los Angeles’ thinning starting rotation only exacerbated what was already a problem. The Dodgers don’t have an announced starter for Tuesday–they’ll throw Julio Urias and Walker Buehler in the series final, two games–and they don’t have the injured Clayton Kershaw either. The Giants won’t see him, but David Price is also being given an opportunity to start some games, and heralded rookie Josiah Gray could make his debut on Tuesday.

The Giants have Alex Wood taking the mound on Tuesday. Wood had a rough stretch, but four of his last five starts have resulted in Giants’ wins. Having a former Dodger facing his ex-teammates in this spot provides tremendous motivation. For the Giants, Tuesday’s matchup against the Dodgers’ unknown is a win.

Five Giants relievers followed Gausman Monday, and they completely shut everything down. Only closer Jake McGee allowed a hit, and the Giants cruised in a game that could have been filled with continuous stress.

Jason Vosler, Thairo Estrada and Austin Slater provided RBI hits in a four-run seventh inning. Estrada, the former Yankee who hit just four homers in 61 games with the Bombers the last two seasons, now has a prominent spot with the Giants replacing Brandon Crawford at shortstop. On Monday, he delivered.

The Giants also produced an impressive hit total of 12 against a pitching staff that’s been difficult for them. The Dodgers managed just four hits, and their crowd of 50,000 plus was near silent for most of the game.

Mental mistakes, missing offense doom A’s to 4-2 loss to the Indians

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–The A’s are talking about all the extra work they’re putting in to get their offense in gear.

That’s not a good sign.

Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Indians came with mental blunders, clutch pitching and little offense. That prompted another round of questions about the A’s offense afterwards.

“I feel good about it every day we go out there,” manager Bob Melvin said. “They get in good work in the cage. (Hitting coach Darren Bush) does well preparing them about how they’re going to be pitched to, we’re just in a rut right now. Every day we go out there, I feel like we’re going to break out of it.”

The A’s fell behind 1-0 on the game’s first pitch, hand delivered to the bleachers by Bradley Zimmer off Chris Bassitt. The A’s tied it in the second, then again in the fifth, 2-2, but that was it. Not many scoring opportunities, and those that surfaced didn’t amount to much.

The A’s have started the season’s second half like they finished the first–with issues offensively. Now that critical performers Mark Canha and Ramon Laureano have returned to the lineup, the belief was the team would start to perform again. But instead, Sunday’s loss was their 15th in their last 24 contests, enough losing to fall behind the Astros in the AL West, and feel the heat from a quartet of challengers for the league’s final wild card spot as well.

The biggest issue? The team batting average sunk to .208 over the last 18 games, it’s .233 over the entire season, and that’s just not cutting it in a year where the league average for teams is .241. Too many times, the A’s can’t produce runs, or run scoring opportunities. On Sunday, only one A’s batter, Matt Chapman, had an opportunity with a runner in scoring position. On a meager day offensively, that’s striking.

Two batters before Seth Brown’s solo shot got the A’s even in the fifth, Laureano tried to stretch a double into a stroll to third base when an errant throw got away from Jose Ramirez. But Laureano was tagged out in clear defiance of baseball’s rigid rule: don’t make the first out of an inning at third base.

“There’s nobody out, and when you aren’t scoring any runs, you try to make something happen,” Melvin said. “(The ball’s) out there in no-man’s land and (he) saw how far away the third baseman was and took a chance at getting there. Just didn’t work out.”

If Laureano stays put, Brown’s homer picks him up and gives the A’s a lead. Instead, little else happened. The A’s had trouble Sunday just mounting a threat.

Meanwhile, the locally raised group on the Indians took over. Outfielder Daniel Johnson from Vallejo homered to give the Indians a 3-2 lead, Zimmer, the former USF star, opened the scoring as previously mentioned, and Bryan Shaw from Livermore closed the door by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his second save.

Attendance for the game was 8,572, a second disappointing, weekend ending crowd in a row for the A’s who haven’t benefitted from being competitive in the standing, as much as they’ve suffered with rumors circulating that the team may be moving to Las Vegas. That, and the team’s offensive woes would seem to point to a trade deadline acquisition that could jumpstart the team, but no names are currently circulating in that regard.

Chris Bassitt took the loss, ending his 10-game win streak dating back to April. Bassitt allowed six hits and three runs, two of those hits home runs by Zimmer and Johnson.

American League brings the pitch and the pop to Denver in All-Star Game win

By Morris Phillips

DENVER–Vladimir Guerrero didn’t get the start in his first All-Star Game at Fenway Park in 1999. And he didn’t do much: Guerrero–facing Texas’ Jeff Zimmerman–saw three pitches and grounded out to end the seventh inning. The Hall of Famer was 24 years old in 1999, and he would make eight more All-Star appearances, turning the game into his own personal showcase on more than one occasion.

Guerrero’s son, Vladimir Jr. might not be that impressed.

The 22-year old Vlad Jr. shocked the sold out Coors Field crowd on Tuesday by hitting the third All-Star pitch he saw 468 feet to get the American League headed in the right direction in their 5-2 win. Guerrero Jr. was named the starter at first base, and in the fifth inning struck again, driving in a run on a ground out to put the AL up 3-0.

Oh, and did we mention the reaction of Fernando Tatis Jr. to Guerrero’s blast, his jaw dropped and unable to turn and look as the blast headed into the left field bleachers. These days, television replays tell the whole story: Guerrero’s homer was the 200th of All-Star Game history and it left the diamond traveling well over 100 mph. Thus Tatis’ reaction.

The victory was the American League’s eighth consecutive in the series, and 15th of the last 18 meetings. How is that dominance demonstrated? Future NL rosters with the numbers expanded for the All-Star occasion will have no players that have beaten the AL on the All-Star stage. Quite staggering.

Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox added an RBI single in the fifth, and Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino homered in the sixth to cap the American League scoring. The National League got a home run from J.T. Realmuto in the fifth, and Manny Machado scored on a past ball in the sixth.

Shohei Ohtani was the AL starting pitcher in an unmatched feat of pitching and batting leadoff at the All-Star level. He pitched just one inning, not allowing a hit, and eight AL relievers each handled an inning of work after Ohtani’s exit.

Bogaerts was the only batter to get a pair of hits, and Corbin Burnes of the Brewers was the only pitcher to throw two innings. Burnes allowed the home run to Guererro.

Locally, Brandon Crawford and Matt Olson saw action, but didn’t factor in the game’s outcome. Crawford had one at-bat, and Olson two, but neither slugger got a hit.