Headline Sports podcast with London Marq: Warriors’ Green looked as the “quarterback” of the team; A’s look to have a better week on 9-game road trip; plus more

Photo credit: @nbastats

On Headline Sports podcast with London:

#1 How key has Golden State’s Draymond Green for this Golden State team? He has been called the quarterback of the team.

#2 Green was called for a foul on the Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam. It was Green who said he would stop Siakam after he scored 32 points on Green in Game 1 and got an earful from rapper Drake on the way back to the dressing room after the game.

#3 What happened to the A’s? They’ve lost five straight games after winning 10 straight and are in Anaheim vs. the LA Angels for three straight games the A’s snapped the losing streak with a win over the Angels on Tuesday night.

#4  The Philadelphia Phillies’ Jay Bruce was added to their lineup for some power, but low and behold former San Francisco Giants outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who tore his ACL and will be out for the rest of the season. The Phillies, who are in first place by a half game over the Braves, will miss McCutchen’s bat out of the lineup.

#5 Back to basketball, how does Golden State handle the absence of a couple of their key players Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant?

London Marq does the Headline Sports podcast each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Giants starting to play out the string in upcoming series against the Brewers

Photo credit: @SFGiants

By Jeremy Harness

It’s quite evident that the Giants are not going to make the playoffs – Buster Posey having season-ending surgery and the team trading Andrew McCutchen after a little more than half a season more than showed they have waved the right flag – so they might as well mess things up for teams that are still contending.

They can start with this weekend’s three-game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers, which starts Friday night at Miller Park. The Giants just got finished getting their heads handed to them by the Rockies in Colorado (what else is new?) in getting swept in a three-game series at Coors Field.

So if they are going to play spoiler–or if they think they actually have a chance in grabbing a wild-card spot in the National League–they will need to get things back on track very quickly.

The Giants’ Derek Holland (7-8, 3.56 ERA) will take the ball Friday night against the Brewers’ Chase Anderson (9-7, 3.96 ERA).

Anderson has won each of his last three decisions, and in his last outing, he went five innings and gave up only a run on four hits in a loss to Washington, although he got a no-decision. Holland, meanwhile, has won each of his last two decisions, while he has spent some time in the bullpen this season.

The left-hander went six innings in a loss to the Mets at home–he got a no-decision–and he also gave up only a run and surrendered only four hits in the process.

Chris Stratton (9-8, 4.90 ERA), who has spent some time in Triple-A Sacramento this year, will go Saturday afternoon, and he will face Milwaukee lefty–and former Nationals and A’s standout–Gio Gonzalez.

Stratton has been stellar in his past two starts, although he lost his last outing in a 4-1 loss to the Mets four days ago, when he gave up only a pair of runs on three hits over six innings. The outing before, he shut out the Diamondbacks over eight innings, giving up only five hits and striking out six in a 2-0 win.

On Sunday, Madison Bumgarner (5-5, 3.07 ERA) will take the hill for the Giants and opposite the Brewers’ Zach Davies (2-5, 4.88 ERA).

Goodbye, San Francisco: Yankees acquire Andrew McCutchen in a trade

Photo credit: @Cut4

By: Ana Kieu

Well, Andrew McCutchen’s tenure as a San Francisco Giant didn’t last long. McCutchen, a five-time MLB All-Star from 2011-15, was acquired by the New York Yankees in a rather unexpected trade Thursday night.

The Yankees agreed to a trade with the Giants. As a result, New York will send Abiatal Avelino (infielder) and another Minor Leaguer to San Francisco for the Giants’ regular right field, according to multiple reports.

McCutchen is batting .255 with 15 homers, 55 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 130 games this season. The 31-year-old was a longtime face of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ franchise, and now, he’s on his way to the Big Apple.

McCutchen will likely help the Yankees boost their outfield production as they’re currently waiting for Aaron Judge, a Linden, Calif. native, to make his much-anticipated return from his right wrist injury. The Yankees’ move will also likely give the team a brand-new player an additional player to spell out Giancarlo Stanton, who has played in 83 consecutive games. In addition, Yankees manager Aaron Boone will receive more flexibility when it comes to the DH slot.

The only negative is that McCutchen hasn’t been an MLB All-Star since 2015, so we may have to see how everything works out.

We’ll Take It!: Giants need big assist from the bumbling Mets to win 2-1 in 13 innings

By Morris Phillips

If you’re the offensively anemic San Francisco Giants, hanging around the ballpark until your opponent falls flat on their faces can be an effective strategy.

Trying to neatly pull everything together with five hits and a run over the game’s first seven innings, then add three singles over the final six innings of a 13-inning affair wasn’t going to cut it for San Francisco, but that’s precisely when Mets’ left fielder Dominic Smith ever so politely bumped into shortstop Amed Rosario, allowing Brandon Crawford’s fly ball to drop harmlessly in front of both as Andrew McCutchen crossed the plate with the game’s winning run.

If your the Giants desperately trying to interrupt a four-game losing streak, you’ll take it.

“We had our struggles there in some pretty good situations where we just needed to hit a groundball,” manager Bruce Bochy explained. “We had a hard time. We had a tough time getting the big hit. We got a break and you take it.”

Breaks have all but disappeared for the Giants in August when it comes to scoring runs. The Giants are hitting .229 as a team and have just seven home runs and 59 runs scored in 17 games. Those numbers have dropped the team into the National League’s bottom three in each of those categories. And that lack of production didn’t get a measurable jump on Monday, not even close.

Former Giant Zac Wheeler was simply following the established script when he held the Giants scoreless for the game’s first six innings Monday before allowing a run in the seventh.

Wheeler struck out a season-best 10 batters, and was still throwing gas in the seventh when Alan Hansen’s softly-hit double fell in, scoring Brandon Crawford. But while Hansen’s extra-base hit did the trick, it merely tied the game. With a runner in scoring position, Hunter Pence grounded out to end the inning, leaving the game tied.

Wheeler, having expended 113 pitches, was done for the evening, but the Mets’ bullpen took it from there hanging five more zeros on the scoreboard. The Giants threatened only once in the 11th, but failed when Brandon Belt struck out to end the inning with runners at first and third.

Derek Holland got the start for the Giants, and he was effective, allowing five hits and a run in four innings. Six Giants’ relievers would follow, and all acquitted themselves well, including Tony Watson in the seventh.

In the Mets’ best threat, pinch hitters Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto singled with one out, only to see Rosario ground into an inning-ending double play.

With all three NL West contenders idle, the Giants moved within 7 1/2 games of division-leading Arizona. In between, Arizona and the Giants, the Dodgers and Rockies complicate the Giants situation with 36 games remaining in the season.


Pirates provide the pop, Giants’ offense shows up late in 10-5 home loss

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO — All the warts associated with the Giants’ offense were there to see on Thursday night.

No offense early? With Pirates’ starter Ivan Nova’s fastball darting around the strike zone, the Giants’ bats were over a hour late arriving at the ballpark. Their first hit didn’t materialize until the fifth inning. Clutch hits with runners aboard? Forget about it. Power game with home run pop? In the dense air and damp weather, San Francisco hitters would have been fortunate to sniff the warning track let alone clear the outfield wall.

But the Pirates’ hitters did. Three times. And Josh Bell, Elias Diaz and David Freese aren’t guys you normally associate with home runs. On Thursday, the Pittsburgh trio surprised themselves.

“I haven’t pulled a ball like that virtually all year,” Bell said of his solo shot, one of two back-to-back homers in the second inning that put Giants’ starter Andrew Suarez in an early hole. “It’s definitely a good sign I’m heading in the right direction.”

When early became not early in the fifth, the Giants finally got cooking. Austin Slater picked up the Giants’ first hit, then Alan Hanson tripled home Slater. Later in the inning Steven Duggar singled in Hanson.

But as quickly as the offense commenced it concluded. Gorkys Hernandez and Andrew McCutchen failed in opportunities to tie the game ending the fifth. And Nova finished his evening by stopping the Giants in the sixth.

We digress here: the Giants had dropped seven of eight at home coming in, then, we pause, they went the first eight innings Thursday trying to subsist on three hits.

That was a recipe for disaster before Mark Melancon’s seventh inning relief stint was marred by Joe Panik’s exchange error and Evan Longoria’s throwing error on consecutive plays. Run scoring hits of Melancon preceded a three-run homer by David Freese off Derek Law, and the Pirates extended their one-run lead to 8-2.

Freese’s home run was the 100th of his career, and the only space vessel to leave the yard after the second inning. No small feat given the air grew heavier as the evening wore on, and Freese doesn’t resonate as a power source.

“It’s a good feeling, I won’t lie. … For a guy that pounds the ball on the ground, not too bad,” Freese said of the home run and the milestone.

The Giants have scored 22 runs in their last eight home games, which qualifies Thursday’s ninth inning as a breakout. Panik doubled home a pair of runs, and Steven Duggar doubled home Panik. But the game ended with Hunter Pence’s groundout.

Derek Holland will get the start Friday when they attempt to break the 0-3 streak on the homestand.

McCutchen comes through in the clutch; Giants edge Cardinals 3-2

Photo credit: @MLBONFOX

By Jeremy Kahn

SAN FRANCISCO — Two of the veterans came through when the San Francisco Giants needed it the most, in the late innings versus the St. Louis Cardinals.

Hunter Pence came through in the clutch with a pinch-hit to lead-off the bottom of the seventh inning, and after a Buster Posey intentional walk, Andrew McCutchen singled to right to score Pence to give the Giants a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals before a crowd of 37,996 at AT&T Park on Friday night.

Alen Hanson sent Pence to second with a sacrifice bunt, and then eventual losing pitcher John Brebbla intentionally walked Posey and McCutchen singled to score Pence from second.

The Cardinals took an early 1-0 lead off of Dereck Rodriguez in the top of the second inning, as Kolten Wong double in Paul DeJong. The inning could have been worse for the Giants, but the smart thinking of Brandon Crawford put a stop to that.

Jedd Gyorko hit a triple to right-center, but Rodriguez got DeJong to ground to Crawford, who home to Buster Posey, and who tagged Gyorko out.

The Giants tied up the game in the bottom of the second inning without the benefit of a hit, as both Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval each walked. Joe Panik then lined out to right field that sent Crawford to third base, and with Gorkys Hernandez at the plate, Jon Gant unfurled a wild pitch that allowed Crawford to score the tying run.

Panik’s single snapped a 0-for-16 streak with that single in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Sandoval gave the Giants in the bottom of the sixth inning, as he launched a Gant pitch and put it into the left field bleachers for his seventh home run of the season.

The Cardinals tied up the game in the top of the seventh inning, as after Rodriguez retired the first two batters of the inning, he allowed a single to DeJong and then Wong tripled to right field to tie up the game.

That would be the last pitch that Rodriguez would throw, as Bruce Bochy replaced the rookie with Reyes Moronta, who promptly struck out Bader to end the Cardinals’ threat.

Rodriguez went 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out one, but he did not fare in the decision.

Over his last three starts, Rodriguez has an earned run average of 1.35, as he has given up just three earned runs in 20 innings.

Gant went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits, walking three and striking out five for the Cardinals.

Moronta faced just one batter, as he struck out Bader to end the seventh inning and picked up his fifth win of the season.

Brebbla pitched one inning, allowing one run on three hits, walking one and striking out one, as his record fell to 1-2 on the season.

With his scoreless inning in the top of the eighth, Tony Watson became just the third Giants reliever in the San Francisco era to throw 19 or more scoreless at home in a single season.

Watson joins Gary Lavelle, who threw 21 scoreless innings in 1979, and Greg Minton, who threw 27 scoreless innings in 1980.

NOTES: Jeff Samardzija will make his return to the starting rotation on Saturday afternoon, and it will be his ninth start of the season. The Cardinals will send Carlos Martinez to the mound, as he will look for his sixth win of the season.

Panik was forced to leave the game with a strained left groin after he came up limping on a double by a Gorkys Hernandez in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The second baseman will undergo an MRI on Saturday, and it could result in Panik returning to the disabled list for the second time this season.

This is the second of 34 consecutive games for the Giants in the Pacific Time zone. The next game outside of the time zone will take place on August 17, when the Giants open a three-game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark.

Outfielder Heliot Ramos (World) and Right-Handed Pitcher Shaun Anderson (United States) will represent the Giants in the Futures Game at Nationals Park on July 15 in Washington, D.C.

UP NEXT: The Giants and Cardinals face off again Saturday afternoon at 1:05 pm PDT.

June boon: Giants’ 5-game win streak has them breathing down the necks of the first place D’Backs

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Right now, the NL West has some serious, what comes around, goes around, going down.

The Diamondbacks started it all by winning their first nine series, and lapping the field with their 19-8 start. All four of Arizona divisional opponents got a taste of the D’Backs’ heat, and the Giants and Dodgers dropped three-games sets at home and away to Arizona in April.

But the D’Backs went from hot to cold seemingly overnight, losing 13 of 14. Colorado jumped up first, and briefly assumed first place. The Rockies made their run on the outside, sweeping the Mets and Cubs on the road to start May. Then the Dodgers got hot, winning a pair of series against the Rockies in their surge.

Now Giants have returned home, winning the first four of a six-game home stand, and their 10-3 series-opening win seemingly indicates that it’s the D’Backs’ time to pay.

Zach Godley allowed back-to-back home runs to Andrew McCutchen and Brandon Crawford, the opening blows in the Giants’ seven-run fourth that turned a 2-0 deficit into a laugher in one, swift act. In all, the Giants hit four solo shots with Pablo Sandoval and Nick Hundley putting the finishing touches on the important win.

“We took advantage in that inning. McCutchen hit that home run and after that Crawford, and then we’re working and working every pitch to score more,” Sandoval recounted.

Key in the rally was manager Bruce Bochy’s decision to lift starter Derek Holland with the bases loaded and one out in favor of pinch-hitter Alen Hanson. All Hanson did was foul off four of the five, normally confounding curveballs thrown by Godley, before sending his hardest offering down the left field line for a double, and a 4-2 Giants’ lead.

Godley lasted just four more pitches, leaving when replay revealed that Joe Panik was hit by his curveball that veered too far inside.

When the Giants last saw Godley in April, he was the pitcher of the moment, shutting down the Dodgers (in a matchup with Clayton Kershaw) and Giants in his first, two starts of the season. After striking out nine and beating the Giants 2-1, Godley confidently stated that he used the Giants’ aggressiveness against them with great success.

But opponents soon found out that Godley’s signature knuckle curve doesn’t always finish in the strike zone, and they began laying off it in droves.

In Godley’s third start, he walked six batters and was done after four innings, trailing 5-0 to the Dodgers. Then the grizzly-bear like hurler won his next two starts without wowing either opponent. In those appearances he beat the Padres and Nationals, but allowed a combined 16 hits in 10 innings of work.

And Godley after that? One win in seven starts with only one of those lasting into the seventh inning.

“I throw my curveball a lot,” he said. “If guys can see it, they’re going to lay off of it as much as they can until I can prove that I can throw for it strikes.”

After the win Monday–and the season-best, five-game win streak–the Giants are back at .500 for the 12th time this season, and the first time since May 20 (24-24). So what’s different this time?

Two things: the Giants are just 1 1/2 games out of first place, as close as they’ve been to the top of the NL West since they were 4-3 on April 7. And Madison Bumgarner is scheduled to pitch Tuesday, the World Series MVP’s season debut after the Giants somehow survived 60 games without him.

Patrick Corbin, who was roughed up in his previous start at home against the lowly Reds, opposes Bum in the 7:15pm start.

FIRST-YEAR PLAYER DRAFT: The Giants selected catcher Joey Bart with the second overall pick in the 2018 draft on Monday. The 6’3″, 225 lbs. prospect is considered to be a plus defender and a skilled pitch caller, possessing a power bat. A skill set that not surprisingly mirrors that of 31-year old Buster Posey.

Could change be in the wind?

“When you have what I believe is the best catcher in the game with us, he’s our guy. So I don’t even think about that until it’s time to think about it,” Bochy said of any changing of the guard within the next two seasons.



Rollercoaster ride: Giants start fast, then hang on in 10-7 homecoming win over the Reds

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The Giants returned home from a rough road trip on Monday, and appeared to have their handpicked, get-well opponent in place: the NL bottom-dwelling Cincinnati Reds.

Except the Reds–after falling 19 games under .500 in the season’s first 35 games and firing manager Bryan Price–suddenly turned hot over the weekend, sweeping a four-game set at Dodgers Stadium.

So what to expect Monday night? A ragged ballgame were neither team looked like the ’98 Yankees, especially the Giants who burst out to a 9-4, sixth inning lead only to hold on for a 10-7 win that got dicey in the ninth.

“They’ve been playing very well, they’ve been scoring runs,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We had a lot of timely hitting going on. It was good to start a homestand like this.”

After interrupting a six-game slide on Sunday with a 5-0, getaway win in Pittsburgh, the Giants were looking to maintain their self-esteem on Monday. They did that with 14 hits, seven of them doubles, and 12 of those 14 coming from the first six guys in the lineup. After Brandon Belt homered in the eighth, the Giants were three outs away from a tidy, 10-4 win.

But the ninth got hairy as reliever Jose Valdez, in just his second appearance as a Giant, allowed a three-run homer to Adam Duvall. Valdez did recover however, striking out Scooter Gennett to end the ballgame.

Chris Stratton picked up the win, going five innings, allowing nine hits and four runs. That was just enough for Stratton to pick up his fourth win and comfortably keep his rising ERA under 5.00. Stratton allowed home runs to Tucker Barnhart and Scott Schebler.

The Giants evened their record at 21-21 with the win, surprisingly enough to keep the club within 3 1/2 games of division-leading Arizona, who lost their sixth straight on Monday. If Monday’s snapshot of the league standings is any indicator, 2018 is no 2017. This time last year, the Giants’ awful start had them dead and buried as the Dodgers, D-Backs and Rockies surged on their way to playoff appearances. This season, a .500 record has them within reach of the entire National League, where 10 of the 15 clubs have winning records, but none are better than the Braves at a modest 25-16. The Giants swept the Braves in Atlanta last week.

Andrew McCutchen picked up the 1,500th hit of his 10-year, big league career in the Giants’ three-run, first inning. McCutchen finished with a pair of doubles and scored twice.

A guy with more than 1,600 career hits, Joey Votto of the Reds, had an interesting, if not brief evening. Votto was at the plate in the first inning when a 3.5 earthquake registered in the East Bay, and probably caused more of a stir within the stadium on people’s cell phones than in their senses. Votto would ground out in that at-bat. His second at-bat ended his evening, a base hit with enough personality that it took a right turn on outfielder Gregor Blanco for an additional base error. But Votto eased up turning around first and was removed with lower-back tightness, which he said cropped up in warmups.

“I was feeling pretty good and then that earthquake hit and all of a sudden everything got thrown off right around 7:18 p.m. in the middle of my first at-bat,” the not-normally humorous Votto said afterwards.

The Giants have Ty Blach starting Tuesday, in a Ty-Ty affair. Tyler Mahle starts for the Reds, a 23-year old who holds the distinction of being the active-leader in strikeouts among all players aged 23 or younger with 58 in the 64 plus innings of his career, accumulated this season and last. That’s no trivial matter for the Giants; they’ve struck out 92 times in their last eight games, including six on Monday. In fact, the Giants have suffered 10 strikeouts or more in 14 of their 42 games this far.

Hanging in there: Giants blow ninth inning lead, but win in the bottom half, 4-3

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Close games mean rare opportunities, and Andrew McCutchen knows that’s the time to ramp it up.  When Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt took reliever Hunter Strickland out of the park in the top of the ninth Tuesday night to tie the game, McCutchen got his cue.

In the bottom of the ninth, Kelby Tomlinson drew a walk. A sacrifice moved Tomlinson up a base, then Austin Jackson was intentionally walked, and reliever Jorge De La Rosa, in his worst moment, missed with a pair of splits to Brandon Belt, then walked the bases loaded on four pitches. In the Giants’ dugout, McCutchen took it all in, his competitive juices starting to flow.

“I was just sitting there, like, ‘This is about to happen again,” McCutchen recalled.

Yeah, but only because McCutchen–who had six hits and the game-ending home run against the Dodgers on Saturday–was about to make it happen.

On the first pitch fastball from De La Rosa, McCutchen singled and the Giants were 4-3 winners.

“We get a guy like Andrew McCutchen. I said he’s going to impact our club,” Bruce Bochy said. “And he’s shown that. In that position, you couldn’t ask for a better guy to be up there.”

The Giants evened their record with the 4-3 win, a sure sign that through the first 10 games of the season, the team is embracing the need to survive a tough early schedule, win just enough against the most prominent teams on their schedule, and hopefully thrive after that. In the team’s clubhouse, you can almost see the scratch and claw marks on the walls.

“We’re all about just scoring runs,” McCutchen said. “We’re a team that can do it. It’s been a little odd that we haven’t been doing that right now, but today was a good game.”

The Giants are the lowest scoring team in the National League, having scored just 30 runs in their first 10 games.  Heck, the first four games for the Giants were the worst for run scoring any MLB team has experienced in 30 years.  They scored just twice. But after a pair of 1-0 wins against the Dodgers, one blowout win over the Mariners, and a couple of games won by McCutchen on the final at-bat, the Giants have five wins to show for all their frustration.

That’s called surviving.

Tyler Beede made his major league debut on Tuesday, starting in place of Johnny Cueto, who has developed some lower body issues that have forced the cautious Giants to scratch him temporarily.  Beede, the former first round pick from Vanderbilt, made 76 starts in the minors, and would have arrived in San Francisco last season were it not for an unfortunately timed injury.

Not surprisingly after such a lengthy build up to his inevitable rise to the majors, nerves played into his debut as his pitch count skyrocketed, and his control deserted him.  But after allowing two, first inning runs, Beede settled enough to get the Giants through four innings down just 2-0.

“I was obviously working in and out of situations for the next three innings, but just limiting damage,” Beede said.  When guys get on its just kind of bearing down and making a quality pitch, getting a ground ball or getting a strikeout.  It’s easier said than done, but going out there and pitching against these guys shows that my stuff can play at this level.  So its just a matter of making those adjustments I need to make, and obviously, commanding the ball a little bit better.”

The Giants conclude this homestand and series with the Diamondbacks today at 12:45PM  at AT&T Park.