Giants stay pat at the trade deadline, zero in on the Rockies

photo: San Francisco Giants general manager Farhan Zaidi was dealing on Monday as the Giants acquired left hand pitcher Anthony Banda from the Tampa Bay Rays 

By Morris Phillips

The Giants won a road series for the first time in 2020, no small feat when you consider the physical and mental challenges involved with travel during the pandemic, along with trying to turn around 93 mph splitters.

The team picked to finish last in the last in the NL West is now a game behind third-place Colorado, and has won nine of 12 games. Baseball-Reference is feeling the Giants as well, saying they’re the (slight) favorite to overtake the Rockies for the last playoff spot in the National League’s expanded field of eight teams.

So the August 31 trade deadline must have been eventful for a club looking for reinforcements for the stretch run. Right?

The answer: not really.

The Giants acquired pitcher Anthony Banda, who had been placed on irrevocable waivers by the Rays. Dereck Rodriguez, who was designated for assignment by the Giants, got picked up by the Tigers. Two transactions, no trades for the Giants.

The message undoubtedly is that the front office likes this group, despite its flaws and bullpen deficiencies. But the greater point is–and this goes for all 30 teams–the 2020 deadline is no place for significant, and costly, player movement given the uncertainty for the rest of the season, and beyond with no framework for a new collective bargaining agreement in place for 2021 and beyond.

But for now, this point rings true: the Giants like this group, and more so, they like the significant improvement in their farm system and were reluctant to part with any prized assets.

“You can tell there’s a lot of belief within the group about what we can accomplish here down the stretch,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said on Monday after the 1pm deadline passed.

The Giants are offensively competent for the first time in years. From Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano, who have appeared at the top of the NL’s offensive categories throughout the first half of the season, to Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Alex Dickerson, the Giants have capable hitters throughout their lineup. At home, the group has averaged six runs per game, making Oracle Park seem hitter friendly maybe for the first time ever.

The pitching and defense have improved as the season has progressed, despite injuries to Jeff Samardzija and Drew Smyly, and the failure of Trevor Gott to seize the closer’s role.

Johnny Cueto has anchored the staff with a string of quality starts, including Sunday at Arizona where he allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings of work. Moving Cueto at the trade deadline never came to pass as teams passed on the hefty remainder of his contract.

The Giants biggest advantage however, maybe their remaining schedule. They remain one of the few teams that hasn’t experienced any disruptions to its schedule–excepting last week’s postponement in protest of Jacob Blake’s shooting. Their next two road contests loom as their biggest as the Giants visit Colorado for games on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. Their last 10 contests all take place in the Bay Area: three at Oakland, followed by the final seven at Oracle Park.

The eight qualifiers for the playoffs will be the top two finishers in each division, plus the next two best records. Because no one is playing league games outside their division, and the interleague schedule hasn’t seen any teams compile a difference-making record, finishing third in the West is the goal for the Giants. The Dodgers and Padres appear to be too far in front, and the third place finisher in the West should qualify, while the fourth place finisher probably won’t qualify.

The Rockies upgraded at the trade deadline, ironically by acquiring Kevin Pillar from the Red Sox to give them greater flexibility in the outfield. Pillar revived his career with the Giants in 2019, only to not be offered a deal by the club for this season.

The Giants send Kevin Gausman to the mound on Tuesday to face Jon Gray. Logan Webb will pitch Wednesday versus Kyle Freeland.

 

Dodgers drub Giants with doubleheader sweep, win 2-0 in the nightcap

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The Giants’ impressive seven-game win streak ran into the Dodgers’ once-in-a-century streak of seven, consecutive division titles on Thursday and it wasn’t much of a battle.

In fact, it was a wipeout as the Dodgers swept, winning 7-0 in the opener and 2-0 in the nightcap. The Dodgers hadn’t posted shutouts in both games of a twin bill since 1971 against the Braves.

So consider the feat–49 years removed from its last occurrence–the halfway point between the two, aforementioned streaks and call it a day.

Manager Dave Roberts felt one shutout set up the other, referencing Clayton Kershaw’s dominant six innings in the opener.

“For Clayton to set the tone in Game 1 obviously gave us a lot of flexibility in Game 2,” Roberts said. “To regroup today, focus on baseball and win two baseball games against a division rival was good.”

The intensity for both clubs at the outset of the afternoon was obvious. Not only was the season series at stake with the rivals tied at four games a piece, the Giants were playing meaningful games late in a season for the first time since 2016. Then Clay Bellinger came up with a pair of highlight catches and Kershaw settled in.

During the second game, that obvious intensity disappeared as the Dodgers seamlessly replaced injured, scheduled starter Walker Buehler with opener Chris Ferguson and six, other relievers in a two-hit gem. Highlighting the Dodgers depth and overall talent, six of the seven pitchers entered the game with earned run averages 1.74 or better, and all six lowered their number as Brusdar Graterol and closer Kenley Jansen were the only two to allow hits, both singles to Belt.

The Dodgers only managed three hits, but one was Joc Pederson’s solo shot in the second, and another Will Smith’s RBI double that scored Pederson in the fourth.

Kevin Gausman enhanced his perceived trade deadline value by pitching into the fifth, allowing three hits, two walks and both Dodgers’ runs.

Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano went hitless after collecting a hit a piece in the opener. The Giants’ MLB second-best runs per game average at home took a hit during the scoreless afternoon. The Giants were averaging 6 1/2 runs per game at Oracle Park coming in.

The Dodgers improved to 24-9 on the season, and increased their lead in the NL West over the Padres to five games. The Giants fell to fourth place at 15-18.

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.

 

A’s beat O’s 2-0 in 12 innings on Khris Davis two-run walk-off home run

Davis winning HR
Khris Davis hits the game-winning walk-off HR in the 12th inning Photo: @Athletics

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Oakland – Both teams deserved to win this game. That line is overused by sports reporters around the world, but on Saturday night at the Coliseum, it was the truth. The Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics put on game-winning performances in their 12-inning affair but in baseball, there are no ties. The A’s won the game 2-0.

The Athletics left the field with their 17th victory of the season after designated hitter Khris Davis hit a Pedro Araujo 3-1 pitch halfway up into the seats in left field with Jed Lowrie on at first with no outs in the bottom of the 12th inning. Unbelievably, the A’s never had a runner in scoring position during the entire contest. It is not often a team is going to escape with a win and never had advanced a runner to second base, but there was nothing usual about this game.

Old Fashion Pitchers Dual

Cahill working
Trevor Cahill recorded 12 strikeouts in a no-decision Saturday Photo: @Athletics

Trevor Cahill started the game for Oakland. Cahill set the tone for the game in the top of the first inning when he struck out the first three Orioles he faced. He struck five of the first six hitters to come bat against him. Cahill looked unbeatable on the mound.

Cahill would go on to work 6.0-innings and record 12 strikeouts while walking just one Baltimore batter. That tied Cahill for the second most strikeouts in six or fewer innings in Oakland history.

Cahill did not give up a run and allowed just four hits. He threw 98 pitches (58 strikes). Manager Bob Melvin indicated the plan was for Cahill to work seven innings but he did not want the righty to exceed 100 pitches.

Gausman
Kevin Gausman threw nine innings of two-hit baseball Photo: @Orioles

The other phenomenal story was Baltimore starting pitcher Kevin Gausman who entered the game with a record of 2-2. Gausman pitched a career-high nine innings and threw 113 pitches (66 strikes). He began the game throwing 89 mph and his last pitch of the contest registered at 98 mph on the radar gun.

Gausman threw nine shutout innings allowing just two hits while striking out six Oakland batters and walking two. It was a pitching performance that would normally have resulted in a victory.

The real irony for both of these starting pitchers who performed so well was they both recorded a no-decision for the game.

Relievers were key in this game

Oakland

  • Yusmeiro Petit came on in relief of Cahill in the top of seventh. Petit really struggled on Friday night but Melvin said had no hesitancy about sending Petit back to the hill. Petit threw 2.0-innings giving up no runs and allowing just one hit. He struck out four and walked three.
  • Santiago Casilla worked innings nine and 10. He pitched two shutout innings allowing just one hit and one hit batter.
  • Danny Coulombe pitched 1.1-innings striking out four Orioles and allowing one hit.
  • Chris Hatcher replaced Coulombe in the top of the 12th with one out. He walked the first man he faced – Trey Mancini. Craig Gentry was brought in as a pinch-runner for Mancini. With Adam Jones at bat, Gentry attempted to steal second base but was thrown out on a strong throw from catcher Bruce Maxwell to second baseman Jed Lowrie. It was the second caught stealing executed by Maxwell in the game. Hatcher induced Jones to ground out third to first for the final out of the game. Hatcher (3-0) picked up the win as he was the pitcher of record when Davis hit the game-winning home run.

Baltimore

  • Mychal Givens worked two great innings of relief of the O’s. He struck out five of the six Oakland hitters he faced and allowed no baserunners. It was simply a perfect relief effort.
  • Pedro Araujo worked the fateful 12th inning giving up the game-winning two-run home run to Davis. He is hung with the loss and is now 1-3 for the season.

Cahill K
Counting them up for Cahill Photo: @Athletics

Vital Stats

Oakland (17-16) 2 runs, 4 hits, no errors

Baltimore (8-25) 0 runs, 7 hits, no errors

Time of the game: 3:32

Attendance: 24612

Up Next

The Orioles will send RHP Alex Cobb (0-3, 9.68) to the hill to faceoff against the Athletics RHP Andrew Triggs (2-1, 5.20). This will be Cobb’s fifth start of the season. His last start versus the Angels was his longest outing of the year when he pitched 6.0-innings. Cobb has allowed 10 hits in three of his starts and allows just over five runs per appearance.

Triggs will make his seventh start of the season for Oakland. He made the start last Tuesday on the road in Seattle. Triggs pitched 4.2-innings in that game giving up four runs (all earned) off six hits. He struck out four hitters and walked three while throwing 89 pitches (49 strikes). The A’s went on to lose that game 6-3.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM.