Giants dig too deep of a hole in 6-4 loss to the Astros, fall to 2-6 on road trip

By Morris Phillips

The series opener at Minute Maid Park afforded the struggling Giants one of two scenarios:

A well-placed opportunity against a good club on a bad stretch in the Astros, just off an ugly brawl and getting swept in Oakland, another distraction for the Major League’s most burdened ballclub in recent memory. Add to that Monday’s starter Lance McCullers Jr. sporting an alarming 9.22 ERA after three starts…

Or another sobering example of the marginally talented Giants being dealt too many road games against contending clubs in unforgiving stadiums in the first 20 games of a gone-before-you-know-it, 60-game season.

A 6-4 loss had the Giants firmly relegated to the second rendering with the Astros blasting off to 6-0 lead only to hang on as pinch hitter Evan Longoria lined out to end it with runners at the corners. McCullers was at his best, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh, after he allowed a career-worst eight runs in his last start.

The 26-year old right-hander retired 19 of the first 20 Giants he faced, with the one hiccup a hit-by-pitch facing Austin Slater leading off the third inning. Donovan Solano broke up McCullers’ gem with a sharply-hit grounder that eluded third baseman Alex Bregman and went for a double.

“We needed a win tonight. We needed to start the homestand on a big, positive note and we did that,” said McCullers, who missed the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery.

While the Giants couldn’t buy a hit, they stacked up the errors, two by Solano filling in at third, and one by catcher Chadwick Tromp, all in the first four innings. Those miscues made life tough for starter Logan Webb, who was charged with five runs, only two of which were earned, before he was lifted in the fourth inning.

“I think he can be proud of going through that lineup and not really giving up on much hard contact,” manager Gabe Kapler said in Webb’s defense. “I think we have better in us behind him that’s for sure.”

Connor Menez steadied the Giants with two plus innings of relief marred only by Martin Maldonado’s solo shot. That homer was the 28th allowed by Giants’ pitching, and it marked the 15th consecutive game they’ve allowed at least one home run, tying an ignominious  franchise record for the second time.

Solano’s double extended his hit streak to 15 games. He doubled again in the ninth, part of the Giants’ three-run rally to make things interesting. The 32-year old Solano is hitting .458, second only to Charlie Blackmon at .484 in the majors.

The Giants are 4-8 on the road, with all 12 road games at Dodgers Stadium, Coors Field and Minute Maid Park, traditionally tough places to play. The Giants’ stretch of 14 of 20 on the road to start the season ends on Wednesday.

Tyler Anderson starts Tuesday for the Giants on a matchup against Houston’s Brandon  Bielak.

 

 

Slater, Giants bring the noise to Oakland in 6-2 Summer Camp win

By Morris Phillips

Austin Slater knows he’ll be around, he just doesn’t know what his role will be. Given that, Monday’s exhibition in Oakland was about defining things.

Mission accomplished.

Slater had three hits, two doubles and five RBI in the Giants 6-2 Summer Camp win over the A’s. The utilityman was penciled into manager Gabe Kapler’s right-handed dominant lineup as the leadoff guy with pop. Given his success, and Kapler’s preference for platoons, don’t be surprised if Slater assumes the role again this weekend against the Dodgers, for the season-opening series in which the Giants expect to see lefty starters in three of the four games.

During spring and summer training, Slater seen time defensively at every position on the diamond except pitcher and catcher. The 27-year old carries a collection of gloves, and doesn’t seem rattled by all the uncertainty needed as a reserve. Kapler wasn’t around, but Slater’s sneaky good 2019 season helps his cause as well.

“I think guys are able to round out their game and not be so narrowed in on one specific position,” Slater said of his expansive skill set. “It helps you understand the game. It helps the team.”

Slater, singled in the first and doubled in the second off A’s starter Sean Manaea. The double came with bases loaded and cleared the bases. Then in the seventh, Slater took advantage of lefty reliever Jake Diekman with a two-run double.

Nine Giants pitchers, starting with Kevin Gausman, saw an inning of work, and none of the nine gave up more than one hit. Tyler Anderson surrendered Stephen Piscotty’s home run in the second, and 26-year Caleb Baragar gave up a hit, walk and a run in the fourth.

Chadwick Tromp doubled and scored, and Jaylinn Davis singled and scored twice for the Giants.

The abbreviated summer camp concludes Tuesday as the two teams meet again at Oracle Park in San Francisco.

Kapler and several of his players elected to kneel during the national anthem prior to the game. The socially conscious manager announced his plan to kneel before the game, while encouraging his players to kneel or do whatever they were comfortable with.

“I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality, and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities, as well,” Kapler said.

 

Pillar wins it late to give Giants the series; SF defeats Phillies 9-6

photo from sfgate.com:  San Francisco Giants’ Kevin Pillar swings for an RBI triple off Philadelphia Phillies’ Nick Pivetta in the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, in San Francisco.

By Jeremy Kahn

SAN FRANCISCO — When the San Francisco Giants they knew that were getting a hitter with power and potential, and this season, Kevin Pillar has done just that.

Pillar went 2-for-4, including the go-ahead triple in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 9-6 before a crowd of 36,637 at Oracle Park.

The win by the Giants gave them the series, their first series win since winning two out of three against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

Evan Longoria led off the inning with a single, and then after both Stephen Vogt and Scooter Gennett were retired by Jose Alvarez, Nick Pivetta came on to face Pillar and he put into the right-center field alley that easily scored Longoria from first base.

Brandon Crawford was then intentionally walked, so that Pivetta could face Will Smith, who was making his first ever plate appearance. With Smith at the plate, Crawford stole second and then Smith shocked everyone, as he lashed an opposite field single that scored both Pillar and Crawford; however, Bryce Harper nearly ruined it, as his throw just missed getting Smith at first base.

Joey Rickard then doubled Smith to third base, where he shared a laugh with Ron Wotus and after a Brandon Belt walk, Pivetta finally got out of the inning, as he got Mike Yastrzemski to ground out to end the inning.

This was a wild game that saw everything, as the Giants took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as Belt led off the inning with a walk, Yastrzemski then doubled off the left field wall and then Longoria gave the Giants the lead, when he singled up the middle off of Phillies starter Jake Arrieta.

Vogt then singled off of Arrieta that sent Longoria to third base; however, Arrieta regrouped to get Gennett to strike out and then Pillar grounded into a double play that ended the inning.

That 2-0 lead by the Giants was gone by the top of the second inning, as the Phillies erupted for three runs and that was end of the night for Giants starter Conner Menez.

J.T. Realmuto and Scott Kingery each walked, and after Sean Rodriguez struck out, Cesar Hernandez singled to load the bases. Arrieta then struck out for the second out of the inning, but the Phillies got on the board, when Roman Quinn walked and then Harper hit a two-run single that gave the Phillies the lead and that was it for Menez.

Jandel Gustave ended the inning, as he got Rhys Hoskins to fly out to Austin Slater and stop any further damage.

In all, Menez lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing three runs on just two hits, walking three and striking out four.

The Phillies attacked the Giants again in the top of the third inning, as Hernandez hit a two-run single off of the Giants third pitcher of the game and second reliever, Andrew Suarez, who came on to replace Gustave, when Corey Dickerson came on to pinch hit for Rodriguez.

Unfortunately for the Phillies that was the score for just one-half inning, as the Giants came all the way back to tie up the game, as Yastrzemski hit his 12th home run of the season. Longoria then picked up his second hit in as many at-bats, and after a Vogt fly out, Gennett doubled in Longoria to cut the Phillies lead down to one. Pillar then singled in Gennett to tie up the game.

Menez, who went from being on the hook for the loss, ended up getting a no-decision and Arrieta also did not fare in the decision, as he went three innings, allowing five runs on seven hits, walking just one and striking out five.

Gennett gave the Giants once again in the bottom of the sixth inning, as he hit his second home run of the season and first at home. His home run landed in McCovey Cove, the 80th Splash Hit by a Giants batter since the ballpark opened on April 11, 2000.

Dickerson tied up the game in the top of the eighth inning, as his sacrifice fly that took Yastrzemski to the wall easily scored Realmuto from third base. Realmuto led off the inning with a single, then went to third on a Kingery double.

Smith, who came on to replace Tony Watson prior to the Dickerson sacrifice fly then walked Hernandez intentionally and Brad Miller flew out to Yastrzemski to end the inning.

In all, the Giants pitched the final 7.1 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, walking eight and striking out six.

Smith, who was unable to save the game for just the third time this season ended up with the victory, as he went the final 1.2 innings, allowing just two walks and a strikeout to improve his record to 4-0 on the season.

As a staff, the Giants walked 11 batters and this was the first time since September 20,2006 against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field where they won a game like that. It was the 11th time since moving to San Francisco in 1958 that the Giants (2019 J.G. Spink Award Jayson Stark gets credit for that stat).

NOTES: Gustave, Trevor Gott and Smith each made their first ever plate appearances during the game, and this was the first time since September 21, 1934 that three pitchers made their first ever appearances at the plate in the same game. Sherman Edwards, Whitey Wistert and Lee Grissom each went to the plate for the first time for the Cincinnati Reds in a 16-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field. That is the only other time since 1913 that this occurred in a game, according to STATS, INC.

The 11 walks by the Phillies are a season high, and the first time they turned the trick since April 26, 2009 against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium in a 13-2 Phillies victory.

Prior to the game, the Giants honored their 1989 National League Championship team, as Will Clark, Don Robinson, Bill Bathe, Chris Speier, Ernie Camacho, Brett Butler, Terry Kennedy, Craig Lefferts, Ernest Riles, Donell Nixon, Atlee Hammaker, Dave Dravecky, Greg Litton, Kelly Downs, Robby Thompson and Mike Krukow were joined on the field by coaches Bill Fahey, Dusty Baker, Norm Sherry and manager Roger Craig.

They also memorialized Jose Uribe, Wendell Kim, Hank Greenwald and General Manager Al Rosen.

Giants President then announced the surprise of the night, The Thrill of the Night, as the Number 22, worn by Will Clark will be retired during the 2020 season.

Clark will join Bill Terry, Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry and Willie McCovey in that elusive club.

Christy Mathewson and John McGraw are honored by the team with the letters NY, as they never wore numbers for the Giants.

Jackie Robinsons number 42 is retired throughout Major League Baseball and is also on the façade on the Club Level at Oracle Park.

Ford Frick Award Winners Jon Miller, Lon Simmons and Russ Hodges are honored on the Club Level.

UP NEXT: Madison Bumgarner takes on the mound on Tuesday evening, as the Oakland As make their only trip to San Francisco this season. The As return to the Bay Area after splitting six games in Chicago will send Brett Anderson to the mound in the opener.

Comfortable Late: Giants hang around then pounce, beat the Cubs, 5-4

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s been nearly a year since the Giants sported a winning record, and this time, it feels like it fits.

The Giants rallied for two runs in the eighth, surprising the equally hot Cubs in a 5-4 win at Oracle Park on Monday night. The win was the Giants 16th in their last 19 games, which apparently is the length of time required for a bad ballclub to gain its footing.

In the previous three weeks, the Giants have crushed the ball, and overwhelmed the opposition on the road, and they’ve pitched, defended and picked their spots at home. On Monday, the Giants executed the latter, coming up with consecutive RBI doubles from Austin Slater and Joe Panik in the eighth to cap a comeback from being down 3-0 in the fourth.

By improving to 51-50, the Giants remained within two games of the second wild card placeholder, St. Louis. Just as importantly, they continue to gain the faith of their own front office, that now may be less likely to break up a good thing before the July 31 trade deadline.

“We’re playing our best baseball right now,” said Panik. “There’s something about this team. We’re a collective group. It’s not just one guy doing it all.”

With 61 games remaining, how could the previously last-place Giants pull this off and grab a wild card berth? Well, their schedule and the math make this three-pronged scenario a possibility.

First, they post a winning record over their next seven games leading up to the trade deadline. GM Farhan Zaidi continues to monitor the trade front while his team’s won-loss record weighs heavily on whether he buys or sells. Being at least 55-53 a week from now after the two remaining games against the Cubs, three at San Diego, and the first two of three at Philadelphia keeps the Giants where they are: a game or two out of the second wild card spot, and on the heels of the Cardinals, Phillies and Brewers, the teams they must catch.

Second, they need to win 36 of their remaining 61 games to gain an 87-75 record, which is modest, but could land them in a favorable spot when compared to the other three clubs, none of which have shown the ability to get hot and run away from the pack.

And third, the Giants only have 11 games remaining against the trio they’re pursuing. Seven road games at St. Louis and Philadelphia, and four home games against the Phillies. Their season series against the Brewers is concluded (Giants won 4 of 6 against Milwaukee). Win more than half of those 11 games, and it makes it far more likely the Phillies or Cardinals don’t get hot and approach, or reach 90 wins.

On Tuesday, Madison Bumgarner faces the Cubs in a matchup against Yu Darvish at 6:45 pm. And yes, it’s unlikely to feel or be treated like Bumgarner’s final start in a Giants’ uniform at Oracle Park.

“I’m proud of them and how they played their way into playing important games,” manager Bruce Bochy said of his Giants. “I can’t think of a season quite like this. We’ve had some ups and downs, but to go from where we were to where we are, it’s made this even more enjoyable.”