Giants have modest two-game win streak after thumping the Angels 7-2

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–It’s official: The Giants’ embarassing weekend is over.

After three days of being used like a doormat by the more talented A’s, the Giants have bounced back, winning a second straight over the Angels Wednesday night, 7-2.

Of course, the response against the struggling Angels won’t generate the headlines that getting embarrassed by the rival A’s did, but the Giants are back to their process. Just get better, one day at at a time.

Wilmer Flores came through with a two-strike, two-out, three-run homer, and Austin Slater hit a two-run shot to back Giants’ starter Johnny Cueto. The veteran pitcher won for the 128th time in his career, and moved to 2-0 on the season, pitching 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and two runs.

“Johnny pitched great and he was able to go deeper into the game for us,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We asked a lot of him and he gave us a lot of pitches. We were able to hand the ball over to the bullpen and they did a nice job for us.”

While Kapler has walked on eggshells in regards to how he utilizes his pitching staff, penciling in his offensive lineup has been a comparative joy. Donovan Solano and Mike Yastrzemski have parked themselves among the league leaders in several offensive categories. The Giants are slighty above MLB average in home runs, triples and RBI. It’s a start for now, and it appears to be picking up steam. In the last eight games, the Giants have hit 13 homers while hitting .295 with runners in scoring position.

When Kapler was forming Wednesday’s lineup against left-hander Patrick Sandoval, Slater with his impressive numbers against lefties had to be penciled in as the DH batting leadoff. Flores or Belt at first base was a tougher call, but only because both are swinging the bat well. This time, Flores got the nod.

“You’re trying to give everyone an opportunity and stay sensitive to the fact that guys are making adjustments and trying to get better,” Kapler said. “This was one of those days. This was one of those lineups.”

Flores rewarded with two hits and four RBI while his batting average climbed to .301. Yastrzemski had a pair of knocks to lift his average to. 318. And Slater’s home run, single and a walk got his OBP to a team-best .453.

That’s progress for a club that at 10-16 is taking its lumps, but showing up everyday and playing for a new manager under unique circumstances.

Meanwhile, the Angels have had little go right in the last week outside of taking advantage of Trevor Gott on Monday for their only win of the stretch. At 8-17, they’re experiencing their worst 25-game start to a season in franchise history.

When the lineup, includes superstar Mike Trout, World Series MVP Anthony Rendon, high-priced import Shohei Ohtani, and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, that’s not pretty. Manager Joe Maddon, also in his first year, has been through plenty, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

“These are the moments when you just really, you do have to dig down deeply and you do have to fight through them and you do have to keep pushing to come out the other side,” Maddon said. “In our game, the thing that we have to do consistently well, and I’m not banging on the pitching, we just have to pitch more consistently.”

On Thursday, the Giants and starter Kevin Gausman will face lefty Jose Suarez in his season debut for the Angels.

Giants’ rally in the ninth comes up just short in 7-6 loss to the Rockies

By Morris Phillips

The Giants offense has gone from feeble to fantastic in less than a week, led by early MVP candidates Donovan Solano and Mike Yastrzemski. 

Now if only the Giants’ pitching and defense could make the same dramatic leap.

Currently, the Colorado Rockies are serving up the NL West’s best combination of the critical, baseball elements, the latest example their come-from-behind, 7-6 win over the Giants at Coors Field on Monday.

The Giants jumped out to 4-1 lead in the fifth inning behind Johnny Cueto only to see the Rockies explode for five runs in the sixth to seize control. Colorado added a run in the eighth, then held on when the Giants rallied for a pair of runs in the ninth, leaving the tying run stranded at third base.

In the end, the Giants could only blame themselves and their inability to record big outs, along with less than stellar defense.

“It’s really important we tighten up our play, we play catch and make the plays, particularly in one-run games at a Coors Field,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

Nolan Arenado homered with Charlie Blackmon aboard to cut the Giants lead to 4-3 which ended Cueto’s evening two batters into the sixth. Despite the hiccup, Cueto proved again to be the master of the huge park and its mile high elevation. At that point, Cueto had done his part in a potential sixth team win in his seven starts as a Giant at Coors.

Reliever Wandy Peralta allowed Ryan McMahon’s drive to right that Alex Dickerson bobbled and dropped on the warning track for a triple. Matt Kemp’s single tied it, and subsequent base hits by Chris Owings and David Dahl gave the Rockies a two-run cushion.

Dickerson again contributed to the Rockies’ rally with an errant throw that forced catcher Chadwick Tromp to vacate his position as Kemp and Owings crossed the plate on Dahl’s hit. Kapler penciled in Dickerson for only his second start as a right fielder only to see the decision backfire with the miscues.

“Honestly I bet Dick makes that (catch) 19 out of 20 times,” Kapler said. “The throw, I bet he makes almost every time. There’s no question.”

Home runs by Tromp, Yastrzemski and Dickerson were squandered in the loss. The Giants have hit 10 home runs in their last six ballgames, a stretch in which the team has gone 3-3.

Pitcher Andrew Suarez was recalled before the game, and Andrew Triggs, who had a rough outing on Sunday, was optioned. The Giants have not announced a starter for any of the three, remaining games in Denver, the start of a 10-game, three-city, road trip that continues to Los Angeles and Houston.

Longtime KNBR talk host Ralph Barbieri passed away Monday after a long battle with Parkinson’s. The 74-year old Barbieri spent 28 years at KNBR, the last 15 with co-host Tom Tolbert, and was well known for his razor-sharp wit.

San Francisco Giants podcast with Michael Duca: Can Cueto stay healthy for 2020; Will Bart be the starting catcher this season?

sfchronicle.com photo: San Francisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto (72) talks with infield coach Kai Correa (50) during a spring training game Wednesday at Scottsdale AZ

On the Giants podcast with Michael:

#1 Talk about Johnny Cueto is he back healthy again he says he ready to come back, can he stay the test of time for a whole baseball season?

#2 Cueto pitched for 2 2/3 innings on Wednesday then gave up four runs but Cueto said he was happy to get 49 pitches in.

#3 The Giants catcher Joey Bart ranked number seven on ESPN’s 100 prospect list and Giants TV analyst Mike Krukow said Bart should not be brought up to the show just to sit on the bench.

#4 The Giants pitcher Tyler Beede had an MRI on Tuesday and it revealed that he had a flexor sprain and UCL sprain and he could be considered for Tommy John surgery.

#5 What’s up with Yapson Gomez’s delivery in relief for the Giants he has that hesitation delivery and moves the suspended leg and then delivers.

On the Giants podcast with Michael on http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Francisco Giants podcast with Michael Duca: Belt, Posey expected back in the lineup tonight in Arizona

Photo credit: @mercnews

On the Giants podcast with Michael:

#1 Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he kept first baseman Brandon Belt out of the lineup due to his inflamed knee Bochy says Belt is listed as day-to-day.

#2 Belt has had two knee surgeries. He went 0-3 with a walk on Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. Did his 0-for-3 have something to do with his knee being inflamed?

#3 The bobblehead for Pablo Sandoval reads “Let Pablo pitch” but someday the bobblehead for Giants pitcher Shaun Anderson will read “Let Shaun hit” because two hits in his first MLB game and some solid hitting would make only teammate Madison Bumgarner proud.

#4 Buster Posey is expected to be in the lineup on Friday night to open up the series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was out with a concussion for seven days. How cautious will the Giants and Posey be about his return?

#5 Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto is doing a 40-pitch bullpen session as he catches up with the team in Arizona. Bochy said he’s not sure if Cueto will be back this season after having Tommy John surgery, but he wants to see how and where Cueto is at in these bullpen sessions.

Join Miguel for the Giants podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cueto’s injury-marred season is finally over

Photo credit: @BR_MLB

By Jeremy Harness

Johnny Cueto’s season could not have gotten off to a better start.

He started the year by winning his first three decisions with an earned-run average of under 1.00. Then he started feeling tightness in his pitching elbow, and it never really went away.

It has come to a point where Cueto had to make a decision to scrap this season in order to save the rest of his career. He has elected to have season-ending Tommy John surgery, which he is scheduled to have Thursday in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, according to multiple reports.

Tommy John surgery has a recovery time of a full year, and due to that, Cueto is expected to be out until late in the 2019 season.

This is obviously a big blow to a Giants pitching staff that has been struggling to get back on track after injuries to Madison Bumgarner as well as Cueto, and it certainly limits their ability to make up much ground against a Los Angeles Dodgers team that is surging and made a couple of big moves before the trading deadline.

While Cueto is getting operated on, the Giants will be kicking off a four-game series in Arizona that night against the Diamondbacks. Bumgarner will take the hill on Thursday opposite D-Backs righty Zack Greinke.

Bumgarner (3-4) has won two of his last three decisions, but he dropped his latest outing last Friday, a 3-1 home loss against the Milwaukee Brewers, a game that saw him go eight innings and give up three runs on six hits.

Greinke, meanwhile, has been rolling. He has amassed an eye-popping mark of 12-5 and has won eight of his last nine decisions, including each of his last seven. His latest appearance came in a 6-2 win at san Diego, during which he surrendered only a run on six hits over seven solid innings.

Cueto to undergo Tommy John surgery

Photo credit: @NBCSGiants

By Jeremy Kahn

Since the season began back in April, there was a possibility that San Francisco Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto could be lost for the injury-marred season and more due to right elbow surgery.

Well, tomorrow in Los Angeles, Cueto will undergo Tommy John surgery and will be lost for the remainder of the 2018 season. Cueto could be back on the mound late during the 2019 season.

“If there’s anything we know about Johnny, it’s that he’s a hard worker,” said Giants general manager Bobby Evans.

Cueto is the second Giants pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery in two seasons, as closer Will Smith also underwent the surgical procedure on March 30, 2017 and did not pitch in his first Major League game this season until May 2.

Giants pitcher Chris Stratton will take Cueto’s spot in the starting rotation. Stratton is 8-6 with a 4.93 ERA in 18 starts this season, before he was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on July 7.

Cueto ended the 2018 season with a 3-2 record with a 3.23 ERA. He was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with a right elbow sprain.

Bye to Chi: Exhausting series with Cubs ends in the 13th inning with a Giants’ 5-4 win

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO — For the second time in three days, the Giants emptied their tank–along with their bullpen–to get past the Cubs.

The 452nd pitch of the afternoon thrown by James Norwood was treated to Buster Posey’s classic inside out swing which sent the ball carooming off the padded advertisement at the base of the right field arcade, scoring Brandon Belt.

Posey’s signature All-Star moment ended four and half hours of baseball in the 13th inning with the Giants prevailing 5-4 at AT&T Park on Wednesday. And then it got Posey’s manager and teammates talking about the catcher’s grit and determination.

“For him to drive the ball like that with two strikes, that’s what’s impressive,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Posey’s final swing.

“For Buster to feel something the majority of the season, his hip, and still go out every day and hit the ball like he does, he’s just a different animal,” said Dereck Rodriguez, who as the son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, might understand what Posey deals with shouldering so much responsibility on daily basis despite the constant injuries and nicks earned behind the plate.

A different animal? Yeah, what else would explain catching 225 pitches over 13 innings, then delivering the game-winning hit on your seventh at-bat two days after announcing that an expedited, pain-relieving procedure is needed in a few days just for your season to continue after the All-Star break.

“He’s a future Hall of Famer,” Rodriguez said.

Posey, always in character and in a different tone than Rodriguez, wasn’t in need of All-Star treatment.

“Everybody’s got stuff they’re dealing with. I try not to make more of it than what it is,” Posey said.

Whether business or usual, or Herculean feat, Posey’s big hit kept the Giants trending in the right direction, moving within three games of the Diamondbacks in the NL West. Ultimately, being three games behind–and just three games over .500–won’t get the Giants much. But they continue to hang around, for 95 games now, just in case they’re capable of a whole lot more down the stretch of the season.

The Giants will kick off the Battle of the Bay versus the A’s on Friday night at 7:15 pm PDT.

Dodged a bullet?: Giants either crafty or overmatched in season-opening weekend

Photo credit: @TwitVI

By Morris Phillips

If the Giants’ bats come around, they’ll laugh heartily about it.

If they don’t, the entire club will be visibly upset for the next six months.

It’s that serious–and that inconsequential–the Giants scored just two runs in four games to start the season in Dodger Stadium. Ultimately, what matters is what’s yet to come. But if the offense tanks, we’ll all remember the Giants started a subpar season with the most inept opening weekend in terms of offense in the last 30 seasons…

Of any team since the 1988 Orioles lost 12-0 on Opening Day–and 12-1 four days later on the way to 107 defeats–and after the two major upgrades in Longoria and McCutchen, all the faith invested in the holdovers, and the similarity to the last two campaigns, a collapse would be a mouthful to swallow.

Of course, this is a sobering juxtaposition. Could the Giants provide more of the same for a third straight year?

With the increasing ominous signs, it bears watching.

If not, the Giants may have shown that given their tenacity and level of engagement, they may have what it takes to compete. After all, the Giants assumed the most arduous opening of any team in the National League–on the road, against the penant winners with four different start times–and scraped together two, memorable, hard fought wins.

Without a couple of major pieces, that’s an accomplishment.  The precedent set by Joe Panik with his pair of solo shots says it best.

But if the Dodgers can claim the distinction of being the first team in baseball history to allow two or fewer runs in a season-opening four game series than that’s not good. Only one of the two runs were earned? That’s the Giants sending the competition off on their merry way brimming with confidence.

“They’ll get clicking,” Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s a matter of time. … They’re too good. We know that. Hopefully [during] this day off, they’ll get a chance to relax.”

Here’s a snapshot of the numbers from the weekend:

Evan Longoria started the National League portion of his career hitless. The former Tampa Bay Ray went 0 for 15, despite saying he saw some good pitches to hit.

Johnny Cueto was lights out on Friday night, allowing one hit over seven innings, no walks, with four strikeouts. So far no mention of reoccurring issues with blisters. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts astutely pointed that Cueto is especially tough with no baserunners pitching out of the stretch.

Joe Panik’s feat of solo homers in consecutive 1-0 wins is a once in the history of the sport achievement. Forget the distinction of Opening Day, no player has ever solo homered in consecutive games with that game result, period.

Opening the season with a pair of 1-0 wins? That’s been done before. 76 years ago by the Reds in wins over the Cardinals with a huge assist to Johnny VanderMeer. The Reds’ pitching staff one-upped the Giants by winning in extra innings both days, 21 innings total.

The Giants are hitting .192 as a team, ranking them 27th, just in case you mistakenly thought they generated a decent share of traffic on the basepaths, but couldn’t summon any big hits.

San Francisco Giants podcast with Morris Phillips: A’s in the City to close out spring schedule; Cueto has good outing against Oakland; plus more

Photo credit: @SFGiants

On the San Francisco Giants podcast with Morris Phillips:

#1 Giants and A’s kicked off the 2018 Bay Bridge series at the Coliseum on Sunday, which could only mean the beginning of the regular season is just round the corner.

#2 It was an satisfying outing for Giants starter Johnny Cueto, who pitched the first Bay Bridge series game, going 5.1 innings, five hits, one run, one walk, six strikeouts in a 5-1 win over the A’s Sunday.

#3 Giants pitcher Ty Blach gets the start for opening day on Thursday in Los Angeles. In 2017, Blach had a 4.78 ERA and was 8-12.

#4 The Giants offense do present some pop in the line up for 2018 with hitters such as Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, and Andrew McCutchen.

#5 On an A’s note: The A’s played it safe and purchased land from the city of Oakland in order to secure the Oakland Coliseum area so no future developers might buy the land in the event the Howard Terminal idea falls through.

Morris Phillips is the San Francisco Giants beat writer at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Baseball is back in the Bay; Giants down the A’s 5-1 on Sunday

baseball AZ

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Baseball returned to the Bay Area on Sunday afternoon as the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics played the first of three annual Bay Bridge Exhibition Series games at the Coliseum in Oakland. The G-Men came out on top in game of one as they downed the A’s 5-1 before 21,229 fans on very chilly day.

Johnny Cueto made the start for the Giants and Daniel Gossett took the hill for the A’s. If you are a Giants fan you are very happy with the way Cueto pitched especially with the loss of Bumgarner. The big righthander pitched 5.2-innings giving up just one run (earned) on five hits. He struck out six and walked just one batter. Cueto threw 82 pitches (57 strikes). He looks ready to go for the regular season.

The Athletics  Daniel Gossett looked good for the first two innings and then ran into some real trouble in the top of the third inning. Gossett gave up three runs off three three hits with the real damage coming from a Buster Posey two-run double that slammed off the center field wall. He would give up a solo run in the fourth inning.

Gossett worked 3.2 innings giving up those four runs (all earned) on five hits. He struck out two and walked one. Gossett threw 78 pitches (47 strikes).

“I thought his stuff was good. Similar to what we saw during regular Spring Training. He just did’t throw enough strikes,”said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “He got himself in a jam and Posey got a big hit … they scored some runs off of it. He has to be a little more efficient with his strikes and get ahead in the count.”

The A’s used six pitchers in the contest:

  • Yusmeiro Petit worked 1.1 scoreless innings giving up no hits.
  • Daniel Coulombe struck one and walked one but did not give up a hit in his one inning on the mound.
  • Liam Hendricks posted all zeros in his inning on the hill. Melvin said it was his best outing of the training season.
  • Raul Alcantara struggled in his one inning giving up one run on one hit. The hit was a home run to the Panda – Pablo Sandoval. Melvin indicated Alcantara has to start throwing his breaking ball for strikes.
  • Simon Castro closed out the game by giving up no runs on no hits while striking out two and walking one.

There were not the many highlights on offense. The A’s only run came in the bottom of third inning when Dustin Fowler led off the inning with base hit. After Joyce came close to hitting one of out the park to deep center field, Semien grounded out to short and that moved Fowler into scoring position at second base. Jed Lowrie then hit a single up the middle and the speedy Fowler raced home to score the only run of the game for the Athletics.

The totals in game for the Giants were five runs, seven hits and no errors while the A’s posted one run, six hits and two errors. San Francisco is now 14-15 for the spring and Oakland falls to 13-15.

The two meet in San Francisco on Monday night.

Athletics Current Roster

Khris Davis
Khris Davis is ready for the season to begin Photo: @Athletics

The A’s have 17 pitchers, seven infielders, seven outfielders and three catchers for a total of 34 players. That number must be cut to 25 by Thursday. Look for Oakland to keep 13 pitchers, 10 position players and 2 catchers.

Due to injuries, the A’s are down to five starting pitchers by default. It appears the bullpen will receive maximum usage this season. The team did work at upgrading the relief corps in the off-season and now it appears it is a good thing they did with the injuries to the starters.

Who will play center field?

The battle is between Dustin Fowler, Boog Powell and Jeff Smolinski. Powell saw action with the A’s in 2017 playing in 29 games and hitting .282 including three home runs. He also played in 23 games for the Seattle Mariners before being traded to Oakland. Smolinski appeared in 16 games for the Athletics batting .259 with an OPS .607.

The Athletics acquired Fowler from the New York Yankees in the Sonny Gray trade. Fowler appeared in one game for the Yankees which is the total of his MLB experience. When Fowler was traded, he was on the disabled list with a ruptured right patellar tendon. He came off the DL last November.

Powell is hitting .250 for the spring with an OPS of .665. He has hit two home runs and two stolen bases. Fowler is batting .195 in 41 trips to the plate this spring. He has not hit a home run but has recorded four RBI and has three stolen bases. His OPS is .471.

Smolinski has hit .289 this spring with an OPS of 1.003. He has hit four home runs and recorded 13 RBI. Those are some numbers that may be hard to ignore

This appears to be a battle between power and speed. The advantage that Fowler possesses is his speed which can be a real asset on defense and could be a real help on offense if he could use that speed to get into scoring position. The problem is the on-base-percentage of .227. If that OBP is over .350, now that speed becomes a weapon.

The fact is the experience and offensive production of Powell and Smolinski gives them a real advantage in staying with the “big club” on Thursday and beyond. The A’s need Fowler to develop into a leadoff hitter who can get on base by the base hit, bunt or base-on-balls. He probably needs some time at Triple-A to work on those skills.

After the game on Sunday, Bob Melvin had this to say about Fowler, “He’s doing a nice job and he’s starting to swing the bat better. He’s starting to hit the ball the other way which means he’s getting on top of the ball and more on track. Early in the spring that wasn’t the case. His bats are getting better and better.”