Headline Sports podcast with Barbara Mason: Manaea working his way back to the show; Machado files a protest against suspension; plus more

Photo credit: @theScore

On Headline Sports with Barbara Mason:

#1 The Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Manaea is throwing well in a simulated 45-pitch three contest. He pitched three innings against Oakland minor league hitters. He said he feels great.

#2 A’s left hander AJ Puk, who had Tommy John surgery, threw two innings against Class A Advanced Stockton and allowed a homer and a walk with three strikeouts. Jesus Luzardo, who had a shoulder strain, allowed four hits and a homer. The A’s are hoping that both Puk and Luzardo can rehab and make it back to the big club.

#3 San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado wants to earn every penny of that $300 million contract and getting called out on strikes didn’t sit well for him on Monday night. Plate Umpire Bill Welke called a pitch on the outside corner and Machado argued the call made contact with Welke, threw his bat, and dropped some heavy language. Machado has appealed his one-game suspension.

#4 The Chicago Cubs are considering opening up a sportsbook at Wrigley Field and people just like at the racetrack can go and place their bets inside at the park. MLB currently prohibits gambling inside MLB stadiums, but the rules are about to change and betting will be allowed.

#5 Former San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence of the Texas Rangers, who had has 15 home runs for the season, had his run stopped by a groin injury he got in Cincinnati on Sunday. Pence was hitting .294 and 48 RBIs in 55 games.

Headlines Sports with Barbara Mason is heard each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Headline Sports podcast with London Marq: World Cup–US Women no match for Thailand in 13-0 blowout; Kings to host Summer League at Golden 1; plus more

Photo credit: @BostonGlobe

On the Headline Sports podcast with London:

#1 In the World Cup, US Women downed Thailand 13-0, Alex Morgan scored five goals and there was no mercy rule as the US Women kept pouring it on in Reims, France. The US took it to Thailand right from the kickoff.

#2 The win by the US topped the old record when Germany took it to Argentina in an 11-0 win in the 2007 World Cup.

#3 The Sacramento Kings will be hosting a California Classic Summer League at Golden 1 Center from July 1st through 3rd. Fans will get to take a look at the following teams: the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings.

#4 With the Summer League coming up, where does Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton stand? He has been accused of sexual assault. His accuser is also holding the Warriors and Lakers legally responsible for the attacks. Is the Luke Walton case going to be a distraction or can Luke guide the Kings and get past it?

#5 The San Jose Earthquakes won a friendly 4-3 over Sacramento Republic FC on Tuesday night at Avaya Stadium. Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski said that the team is in a zone a winning mental state right now, and even though it was like a preseason game, the Quakes are pushing to win and won’t take any prisoners right now.

#6 Former San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence hit another one off the fence for the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night against the Red Sox. Pence chalked up his 14th home run for an inside-the-park home run against the Boston Red Sox. Pence has been in the zone this season. He’s also got the Rangers clubhouse pretty loose right now.

London Marq does Headline Sports each Wednesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Giants Get Crushed by Dodgers 15-0 to Cap 2018 Season

Photo credit: @SFGiants

By: Joe Lami

The season finally came to an end for the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. They did so in perfect fashion, to sum up, the 2018 season, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers 15-0 at AT&T Park.

Fans came to say a final goodbye to Hunter Pence, the emotional leader of two of the franchise’s three titles in recent years. 2018 was a struggle for Pence, as he finished batting .229 with 24 RBI and four homers in the 96 games he played. It wasn’t the sunset ending Pence, who has wished for either, as he finished the day 0-for-4, including three strikeouts from the lead-off spot.

Andrew Suarez was handed the loss, surrendering six runs on six hits in 2.1 IP as the Dodgers delivered a seven-run blow in the third to make it 9-0. They continued to pour it on with three runs in the fourth and two runs in the fifth.

The Dodgers had everything to play for, as the win secured a one-game playoff with the Colorado Rockies to decide who wins the NL West tomorrow at Dodger Stadium. The winner takes the division with the loser having to play in the Wild Card Game on Tuesday.

The Giants could’ve played spoiler for their rival. A Dodgers’ loss would have secured them the Wild Card spot, but instead, LA swept the Giants capped off by the second-worst shutout in rivalry history

Giants fans will wake up tomorrow when September is finally over, looking back at a 5-21 record for the nightmare month. The worst month in franchise history since 1958 pushed them eight games below .500. They finished 73-89, the eighth-worst record in the big leagues.

The off-season will begin for San Francisco, including the search for a general manager after Bobby Evans was relieved of his position for the unacceptable season. Once a general manager is placed, it will bring attention around who will stay and who will go for next season.

Going in Another Direction: Giants relieve GM Evans of his duties, lose quietly to the Padres

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO — If the philosophy employed by GM Bobby Evans to construct the 2018 Giants is horribly out of step with current baseball thinking, we got one more reminder on Monday night at AT&T Park.

After Evans was relieved of his duties earlier on Monday, the Giants’ bats fell silent in a 5-0 loss to the Padres. Padres’ starter Bryan Mitchell completely shutdown the Giants’ offense a week after he allowed the Giants nine hits and four runs in a loss at San Diego in his previous start.

The Giants have lost 16 of 20 to fall a season-worst 13 games under .500. At the root of all the struggles is an offense that frequently can’t even manage a base hit; the Giants are hitting .222 as a team since the All-Star break, the lowest such mark for any team in baseball since 1974.

“We’ve got to get this offense fixed,” manager Bruce Bochy said afterwards.

The move to relieve Evans and retain Brian Sabean while reducing his responsibilities means the club will look outside the organization to find their philosophical leader for the first time in decades. That next GM/executive will have to fortify an offense without the likelihood a free agent hitter would chose San Francisco as his destination given the dramatic dropoff in offensive production recent transplants have experienced.

Against Mitchell on Monday, a Giants’ lineup of underperforming holdovers and prospects Chris Shaw and Aramis Garcia managed just six base hits and one double from Brandon Crawford. Only leadoff hitter Hunter Pence managed multiple hits as Mitchell dominated for 8 2/3 innings. Mitchell struck out seven, and induced numerous ground balls that kept the Giants from mounting a rally.

“A really impressive performance, I would have loved to see him finish it,” manager Andy Green said of Mitchell.

Derek Holland pitched well but was lit up by Jose Pirela’s lind drive homer that increased the Padres’ lead to 3-0 in the fourth.

A’s walk it off in 11 innings beating the Giants 4-3 on Saturday night

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Jonathan Lucroy rounds the bases in triumph Photo @Athletics

By Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND — Game five of the 2018 Bay Bridge Series – the second of three to be played in Oakland – was played before the largest crowd to witness a Major League Baseball this season. The A’s (56-43) decided to take the tarps off the seats in the upper deck known as “Mount Davis” for the first time since 2006. The result was 56,310 Bay Area baseball fans were treated to a “wild and woolly” affair.

The top the ninth arrived at the Oakland Coliseum, and as usual, it was Treinen time. The A’s held a slim 3-2 lead over the Giants, but the A’s have been the masters of winning one-run games (15-8) in 2018. Treinen retired the first two batters — Posey and Sandoval on groundouts. The third hitter of the inning – Alen Hanson – struck out, but the strike three pitch was wild, got by the catcher and Hanson wound up safe at first (this is now the first paragraph of a Stephen King novel).

Hunter Pence then hit a pitch into right field that rolled into foul territory and into the Giants bullpen for a double, and Alen Hanson scored on the play. As right fielder Stephen Piscotty charged the ball, a member of the Giants bullpen picked up a chair and made contact with the outfielder. The Athletics contended that it should have been a “dead ball” at that point which would have kept the run from scoring. There is no rule that umpires could invoke, so the A’s challenged the play on a boundary call. A video review of the play upheld the call on the field. When the top of the ninth inning was over, the game was tied at 3-3.

The A’s were unable to score in the bottom of the ninth, so it was on to extra innings.

There was no scoring in the 10th inning and the Giants (51-49) failed to produce any runs in the top of the 11th frame.

The A’s are late inning battlers

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Chapman at the plate Photo Charlie O. Mallonee

Teams are learning that they cannot let the A’s hang around late in games and continue to have chances to score – because they will. That is exactly what happened on Saturday night.

In the bottom of the 11th inning, the Giants put LHP Will Smith on the mound. Piscotty grounded out to lead off the inning for Oakland. Dustin Fowler was then robbed of a hit when he lifted a “flare” to shallow right-center and shortstop Brandon Crawford made an outstanding sliding catch beyond the bag at second.

With two out, Matt Chapman picked up his third hit of the game with a single up the middle. Chad Pinder followed up with a single to left-center that moved Chapman up to second. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy – who did not enter the game until the 10th inning – singled to right-center field and Chapman never had any thoughts of doing anything but crossing home plate to score the winning run which he did.

The A’s won the game 4-3 to even the series in Oakland at 1-1 and to take a 3-2 lead in the six-game series after five games.

The walk off single was Lucroy’s second of the season. The Athletics are now 7-4 in extra inning games for the season and improved to 14-6 in games decided in the last at bat.

On the Hill

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At meeting at the mound on Saturday night Photo Charlie O. Mallonee

The Giants started their one-time superstar – LHP Madison Bumgarner – who has struggled since coming back from a broken finger on his pitching hand. “MadBum” looked strong in the opening four innings, but the A’s hitters got patient and things went south for Bumgarner in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Bumgarner loaded the bases and walked two runs in to give the A’s the lead 2-1 which ended his night. Sam Dyson came in to relieve Bumgarner and induced Mark Canha to hit into a double play but Chad Pinder scored the A’s third run on the play.

Bumgarner worked 4.0-plus innings giving up three runs (earned). He walked six and struck out five.

Will Smith (0-1) took the loss.

Trevor Cahill started the game for Oakland. It was his second start since coming off the disabled list. He worked 5.2-innings and gave up one run (earned) on a home run to Brandon Belt. Cahill struck out five and walked three.

Blake Treinen was charged with his fourth blown save of the season as he gave up the tying run when Hunter Pence hit the RBI-double into the bullpen along the right field line.

Yusmeiro Petit picks up his fifth win of the year as he was the pitcher of record after working a perfect top of the 11th inning for the A’s.

At the Plate

Matt Chapman went 3-for-5 with two runs scored to lead the A’s with the bat. He is now hitting at a .253 clip.

Stephen Piscotty hit his 26th double of the year off Bumgarner.

Phegley (10), Semien (34) and Lucroy (28) all recorded RBI for the A’s.

Oakland went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.

Hunter Pence likes being a DH. He went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI as the Giants DH Saturday night.

The Giants also went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left 8 men on base.

Let the buying begin

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Jeurys Familia Photo MLB.com

The question has been answered. The A’s are going to be buyers as the non-wavier trade deadline approaches. Oakland has acquired RHP relief pitcher Jeurys Familia from the New York Mets for two minor leaguers and $1-million in international slot money. Familia appeared in 40 games for NYM posting a 2.88 ERA with a 1.230 WHIP. He has struck out 43 in 40.2-innings and walked just 14. Familia has given up just one home run. He will be a free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

Get those suitcases packed

The A’s will head out on the road after the game on Sunday for a seven-game, two-city road trip. They will play four games in hot, humid Arlington, Texas versus the Rangers. All four games are night contests. There is no thought of day baseball this time of year in the Metroplex. After the four games in Texas, Oakland heads to Denver to play three games at Coors Field with the Colorado Rockies. The power hitting Athletics may find batting at a mile-high just to their liking.

Lonnnnng homestand coming

The A’s will return home from their road trip on Monday, July 30 to begin a stretch where 17 of their next 20 games will be played in Oakland. The only break in the homestand is three games in Anaheim with the Angels. Oakland will host the Blue Jays, Tigers, Dodgers, Mariners, Astros and Rangers in those 17 home games.

A belated parade for the 1989 World Champions

The 1989 World Champion Oakland Athletics were honored with long overdue parade to celebrate their 1989 World Series sweep of the San Francisco Giants. The team did not receive the parade because they did not want to show disrespect to those who lost loved ones in the tragic earthquake that disrupted the series. The celebration before the game was very nice. The one sad thing was there are several players that have passed on who could be there to be a part of the pregame honor.

Up next

The sixth and final game of the 2018 Bay Bridge Series will be played on Sunday at the Coliseum at 1:05 PM. The Giants will send RHP Johnny Cueto to the mound for his third start since coming off the disabled list on July 5th. He is 3-1 on the year with a 2.36 ERA. Cueto is 2-0 in Interleague games this season.

The A’s will counter with LHP Sean Manaea who 4-0 with a 3.14 ERA in eight starts since the beginning of June. His overall record this season is 9-6 with a 3.42 ERA. Manaea has an 11-game winning streak when pitching in day games that dates back to May 20, 2017. He is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three career starts versus the Giants.

Dicey Dyson: Giants need rookie to bail out new closer in 6-5 win over the Marlins

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–It’s not going to be easy. The Giants have too many injuries, inexperience in key places, too many moving parts to run over anybody. Wednesday’s narrow, heart-stopping 6-5 win over the Marlins was another example of that.

The Giants held a couple of enviable leads–5-1 after six innings and 6-3 after eight–but had to hold on when newly-anointed closer Sam Dyson gave up four hits and two runs in the ninth. But with the Curse of the Marlins on the doorstep, rookie Reyes Moronta struck out JB Shuck with two runners aboard to end it.

“Reyes has done some closing in the minor leagues and he’s got the equipment to do it,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

The Giants have won 9 of 11 at home, not enough success to counteract 18 losses in their last 25 road contests, but enough to keep them within four games of division-leading Arizona. But to make continued headway, the Giants will have to fill in the gaps like Moronta did Wednesday.

Hunter Pence and Derek Holland were the other key contributors early in the game, two guys that weren’t essentially included in the season’s original blueprint either. Pence delivered an RBI single, the third run in the Giants’ five-run sixth. Pence was hitting .174 with no home runs entering the at-bat.

Holland pitched six, strong innings before allowing hits to the first, two batters in the seventh. The 31-year old picked up the win, allowing three runs on seven hits, striking out seven, while walking two.

 

 

 

Sacramento River Cats Report: April 28, 2018

River Cats

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. A Triple-A team serves two purposes for a major league franchise:

  1. It is the place where the major team stashes its backup players they may need if injuries or poor performance require an immediate roster change without having to make a trade or having to go to the waiver wire.
  2. Triple-A is the highest rung on the minor league ladder. It is where the final determinations are made whether a player can or cannot make it in “the show”. Being promoted to Triple-A is no guarantee of making a major league roster before your career is over. Triple-A can also be the end of a very long road for a player.

PCL

The River Cats play in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Divison along with the Fresno Grizzlies (Astros), Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) and Reno Aces (D-Backs). There are four divisions and 16 teams in the PCL. The other Triple-A association is the International League which is comprised of 14 teams.

The Pacific Coast League has traditionally been known for high batting averages and inflated Earned Run Averages. This is due in part to the fact that many of the teams play at higher altitudes or in weather conditions where the ball tends to carry farther. Player personnel directors have always had to hope that pitchers ERA’s would improve over their Triple-A stats and expect that hitters batting averages would be at least 50 to 100-points less in the majors than they were in the PCL.

The Giants called up three players from Sacramento on Saturday. Because of the doubleheader on Saturday, San Francisco was able to expand the roster to 26 for Saturday only. RHP Derek Law from the River Cats was called up to cover that special spot.

The Giants had to place second baseman Joe Panik on the 10-day disabled list due to a left thumb strain. San Francisco selected the contract of Alen Hanson from Sacramento to take Panik’s place on the roster.

Right fielder Mac Williamson has been put on the seven-day disabled list because of a possible concussion. River Cats outfielder Austin Slater received the temporary promotion to the MLB.

Sacramento can also be a rehab location

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Hunter Pence in SacTown Photo: @RiverCats

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence went on the 10-day disabled list on April 20 with a right thumb sprain. Pence was batting just .172 when he went on the DL, but the Giants would certainly be happy to have a player with his experience and leadership ability back with the club as soon as possible because Pence will not stay below the “Mendoza Line” much longer.

Pence played in Sacramento on Friday night on a rehab assignment. He played in right field and went 0-3 at the plate striking out twice but Pence did score the first run of the game for the River Cats. Pence reached first base on a throwing error in the bottom of the first inning and ultimately came home to score. Sacramento won the game downing Reno 6-4. It was the River Cats third consecutive win.

River Cats current situation

Sacramento is 10-11 so far in the month of April and is in third-place in the PCL Pacific North. They are 4.5 games back of division-leading Fresno. The River Cats are 5-4 at home and 5-7 on the road. They are 5-5 in their last 10-games and have won three games in a row.

It is important to keep in mind that winning games, divisions and league championships is not the number goal for a Triple-A franchise. The number one goal is player development followed closely by keeping backup players for the “big club” in shape and ready to go at a moments notice.

The Giants would we very happy to see the River Cats fighting for the PCL championship because it would mean their prospects are playing great baseball and their backup players are not needed in the majors because the major league stars are not getting injured. That is a perfect scenario that seldom exists as the Giants have already demonstrated this season.

Who to watch in Sacramento

The key prospects to watch in SAC are:

  • OF/1B – Chris Shaw – he is not on the 40-man roster. Currently, Shaw is playing left field which makes sense with Brandon Belt having a career year at first base. He is batting .247 with an on-base percentage of .310. Shaw has hit five home runs and has posted 15 RBI in 19 games. He is rated the number two prospect in the Giants minor league system.
  • OF – Steven Duggar – another player who is not on the 40-man roster. Duggar is playing outfield and leading off for the River Cats. He is currently hitting .274 with a .354 on-base percentage. Duggar has walked nine times and has three steals. He has one home run, six RBI and has scored 14 runs in 18 games. Duggar is the number three rated Giants minor league player.
  • RHP – Tyler Beede – this player is on the Giants 40-man roster. Maybe no other minor league player in the Giants system has been talked more about than Beede. Drafted in the first-round in 2014, Giants fans have been expecting him to join the starting rotation almost every year. There was much anticipation that Beede might be brought up last season but control issues and a season-ending groin injury put that idea to an end. He did make two starts this season for San Francisco recording a no-decision in the first start and a loss in the second start. Beede is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts with the River Cats since being sent back to Triple-A. He is ranked the number four best prospect in the system.
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Tyler Beede Photo: @RiverCats
  • OF – Austin Slater – has been called up to the Giants because Pence and Williamson are on the DL. In 14 games with the River Cats, Slater was hitting .358 with a .435 OBP. He posted one home run, eight doubles, and 13 RBI. Slater scored 13 runs. He is rated the number five player in the system.
  • LHP – Andrew Suarez – he is a member of the 40-man roster. Suarez did get a start with the Giants vs Arizona and was hung with the loss. He has made three starts for SAC and has a 2-0 record with a 1.08 ERA. Suarez has struck out 16 hitters, walked 7 and has a WHIP of 1.02. He listed as the number 10 prospect. Keep your eye on this pitcher.
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Andrew Suarez Photo: @RiverCats
  • LHP – D.J. Snelten – another member of the 40-man roster. This 6-foot-6 lefty is making the transition to becoming a reliever. Snelten has made six appearances for Sacramento and has a record of 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 9.0 innings of work. He has allowed just six hits (no home runs), walked five, struck out seven with a 1.22 WHIP. He is listed as the 27th best minor league player in the Giants system.

There will be many moves to come

With April just coming to a close, there are many more moves involving the Sacramento River Cats to made during the 2018 season. More players will travel west to San Francisco. Some players will travel east to SAC. Other player players will get promoted from Richmond and will go from being a Flying Squirrel to being a River Cat.

Watch for weekly updates, special features, and updates as needed as Sports Radio Service keeps you informed on the happenings down on the farm in Sacramento.

As it was envisioned: Giants play their game in 3-1 win over the Cubs

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San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval dives to stop a ground ball hit by the Chicago Cubs’ Ben Zobrist in the fifth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, in San Francisco. Sandoval stopped the ball and threw Zobrist out at first base. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Think back to spring training–before the 70 losses with almost two months remaining. A healthy, capable Giants club was supposed to look like this, especially on a heavy-aired afternoon at AT&T.

Pitch, play defense and get the big outs late. Offense? Scratch together a couple of runs, nothing spectacular. Just steady.

On Wednesday, it worked just like they envisioned, right down to Mad Bum actually winning one for a change.

In the other dugout, Joe Maddon was concerned, but not overly so. His Cubs were 16-8 post All-Star break and prior to Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Giants. But when he expressed what was missing from his team’s effort, it sounded a lot like what suddenly crawled into the Giants’ dugout.

“We haven’t played well. We haven’t played with the same kind of efficiency,” Maddon said.

“Pitching, great. Again, defense we still have to make plays. And overall, offensively we need more consistency out of more people to get this whole thing done.”

Each Giants’ position starter had one hit. The resurgent Hunter Pence had two. “Wawindaji” homered off Pedro Strop in the eighth inning for a nice piece of insurance in a 2-1 game. “Wawindaji” is Pence’s nickname (Hunter in Swahili) that will appear on his Players Weekend uniform in the upcoming series at Washington.

The placement of the way-out nickname on an actual game jersey is also a sure sign that Pence’s play has picked up. The right fielder hit over .300 on the completed home stand, and including the two games in Oakland.

Pablo Sandoval looked nifty ranging to his left. Denard Span and Ryder Jones contributed “small ball” hits in the seventh that allowed the Giants to break the 1-1 tie. And Bumgarner was tough on a lineup that’s been more than capable against ordinary lefties this season (19-9 after Wednesday’s loss).

Coming off that serious biking accident, Bumgarner had a long road, not just to get healthy, but to regain his status among the National League’s best starters. Bochy’s cast a discerning eye in the process. Here’s how he saw Bumgarner’s effort.

“His stuff’s the same. His command, everything is right there. He pitched very well today. He made the one mistake there, but he hasn’t changed a bit,” Bochy said.

The one mistake–a third inning home run surrendered to Albert Almora Jr.–would mark the only time a Cub crossed the plate all afternoon. Bumgarner threw seven innings, allowed four singles and the Almora homer while striking out seven.

Hunter Strickland pitched a scoreless eighth, and Sam Dyson, the reliever rescued from the scrap heap after a rough first half with the Rangers picked up save number eight.

The Giants resume play in Washington on Friday night, the first of a six-game road trip. The team will also visit the Marlins in Miami.

 

 

Moore pitches better, but defense lapses, offense rests, sellout streak snapped in loss to the Indians

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Cleveland Indians’ Michael Brantley, right, reaches first base for a single as San Francisco Giants first baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang, left, reaches for the ball in the fifth inning of a baseball game Monday, July 17, 2017, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Starting pitching that was good… for awhile, and defense that was absent at two, key junctures had the Giants attempting to squeeze a win through a pinhole, once again, among the slimmest of possibilities to realize on a major league diamond.

How slim?

When the Giants couple mediocre pitching, shoddy defense with three runs scored or less, well, the numbers aren’t kind. With Monday’s 5-3 loss to the AL Central-leading Indians, the Giants fell to 7-44 when they score three runs or less.

Add in the 3-1 lead in the fifth that evaporated, and the sellout streak that was snapped, and one must conclude things aren’t nearly as enchanting at AT&T Park as they have been.

“This season couldn’t have gone worse,” manager Bruce Bochy admitted.  “I don’t think any of us could have seen it unraveling the way it has. It’s been a tough go and the one constant has been the support. We can’t thank (the fans) enough. We appreciate it. We’re disappointed we’re not in a better place for our fans.”

The Giants have dropped four in a row, and 14 of 18 at home. Interleague play hasn’t been kind either; the Giants are 3-8 versus the American League this season.

Did we mention that things could have looked up Monday had not starter Matt Moore inexplicably flipped the baseball over the head of first baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang when gifted the opportunity to record the third out in the fifth?

But Moore did overthrow Hwang, allowing the Indians to get even, 3-3. They would push across the winning run in the sixth, given a big assist by Hwang’s throwing error, then an insurance run in the ninth.

Offensively, the Giants simply didn’t do enough, and very little outside of a successful challenge of an out call at the plate that allowed Joe Panik to score their initial run upon review, and Moore’s RBI single that followed, in the third.

Brandon Crawford would add a ringing, RBI double high off the bricks in right center in the fourth, but the Giant’s final hit would come in the fifth. Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin, with assists from relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, would combine to retire the final 13 Giants’ hitters.

The Giants’ power game was again non-existent with team home run leader Brandon Belt out of the lineup with a wrist injury. The Giants have hit an MLB-low 24 home runs at home, and have hit at least one home run in only 48 of their 94 games. The team’s ability to hit for power has been so tepid, one ESPN piece written over the weekend suggested the Giants blow up their entire starting lineup in search of hitters with a power-hitting profile. Given that, rumors of the team’s interest in Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton and his massive, 10-year contract make some sense.

Moore pitched far better than he has in most of his 2017 starts, relying on an effective fastball-changeup combo early in Monday’s game. Despite pitching into the seventh inning, Moore lost for the fifth, consecutive time at home, and the tenth time overall. Once again, Moore’s margin for error was slim, far slimmer than his overwrought toss to first in the fifth.

“I grabbed it and picked it up and threw it underhanded,” Moore said. “As soon as I let it go, I knew it was too high.”

Giant’s CEO Larry Baer personally announced the end of the Giant’s 530-game sellout streak, a foregone conclusion with the team struggling and empty seats popping up throughout the park. Baer said he expects another sellout on Wednesday, a sure sign the park hasn’t lost all of its allure in a season of losing.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t hang in there and keep this thing going,” Bochy said. “The fans, they did their part. This has been tough on them, too.”

 

Giants finally playing better baseball, but are they any good?

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San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) mingles with fans during batting practice before an MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants on July 01, 2017 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP)

By Morris Phillips

The Giants are playing better baseball. Can they keep it up?

Starting with Tuesday’s opponent, the Tigers and emerging starting pitcher, Michael Fullmer, the challenges keep coming. But for the Giants, hopefully the breaks as well. The Tigers aren’t struggling to the extent that the Giants are, but at 36-45, the AL Central club is off to their worst season start since 2003.

The Giants were on pace for their worst season showing since 1985. That club was the only San Francisco Giants team to lose 100 games. But the Giants have finally started hitting in a season-best six-game win streak.

“Getting timely hits, that’s huge for us,” Brandon Belt said.

In the win streak, the Giants have improved their scoring by more than two runs a game. They’ve also rallied for a couple of wins, and seen their bullpen become stingy for the first time all year. In total, the Giants are doing everything they hadn’t been doing.

That’s the rhythm of the game,” Jeff Samardzija said. “So much about this game is about momentum and confidence.”

Offensively, Denard Span has led the resurgence, the outfielder came up with 40 his in June. No Giant had collected that many hits in a month sine 2005. Belt is swinging a hot bat, as is Joe Panik. Buster Posey, the NL’s leading hitter with a .340 average, has continued to do his thing at the plate.

Sam Dyson was designated for assignment by the Rangers, but in 10 appearances with the Giants, he’s been steady. Manager Bruce Bochy has vowed to use the right hander in a late game, setup role going forward.