Category: Uncategorized

Mac Williamson does not need to be offensive savior; he just needs to be better than Pence (not hard)

Giants Yankees Baseball

San Francisco Giants’ Mac Williamson connects for an RBI-base hit against the New York Yankees during the twelfth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 23, 2016, in New York. Giants’ Trevor Brown scored on the play. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Mac Williamson has arrived with the big club, but is he the savior just about every San Francisco Giants hopes he will be?

Williamson performed very well this spring after spending the winter retooling his swing with help from the same coach who helped turn the Dodgers’ Justin Turner into an All-Star.

Many Giants hoped Williamson would have been on the Giants’ opening day 25-man roster.

But a combination of manager Bruce Bochy wanting to have more defensive flexibility and Williamson still having an option year left sent the outfielder to Triple-A Sacramento, where he tore it up.

In just 11 games, Williamson hit 6 home runs, drove in 16, hit .487 with a .600 on-base percentage. Slugging 1.026, he had a whopping OPS of 1.626.

What may be most impressive is the fact that Williamson walked seven times and only struck out five.

Five strikeouts. Compare that to River Cats teammates Steven Duggar (16), Kyle Jensen (19) or Chris Shaw (21).

Now last season, Christian Arroyo tore it up in Sacramento in April, prompting a May call-up to the big club. Then he proceeded to struggle and was sent back to Triple-A after hitting below the Mendoza line.

But that was a 21-year-old Arroyo in his first stint in the bigs. Williamson is 27 and has had brief stints of success with the Giants, so he knows what to expect.

For the move to pay off for the Giants, Williamson does not need to match his Triple-A numbers, not that anyone is expecting that. In fact, he doesn’t even have to come close.

He just has to give the Giants something, anything. Because the Giants have received NOTHING from left field this season.

If you look at all eight positions, nowhere is the Giants getting anything less than from left field with team lows in batting (.188, .208 is next worst), on-base percentage (.219, .270 is next worst) and slugging (.203, .324 in next worst).

And those left-field numbers are largely the product of one player — Hunter Pence. Pence was hitting .172 with a team-worst .197 OBP, a team-worst slugging of .190 and a team-high 22 strikeouts.

Now I am not part of the chorus of fans shouting to cut Pence, saying he’s washed up. But even veteran San Francisco Chronicle writer suggested that this DL move could be simply a way for the Giants to delay making a hard decision regarding the future of Pence in his final contract year.

I don’t believe that. But it’s very hard to ignore how bad those numbers are.

Pence went to the DL because of a sprained thumb he first injured in the home opener against the Mariners.

Pence said he didn’t know if his thumb was the reason for his struggles, but it’s hard to imagine that it didn’t make things worse.

Of Pence’s 10 hits this season, four came in the four games before his injury, including in his only extra-base hit.

Pence started the season 4 for 15 (.267) before hurting his thumb, and .140 since. Now 15 at-bats is a very small sample size, but you can’t find another series of 15 at-bats this season in which he’s produced four hits since his injury.

And what’s worse, his strikeouts have increased. He struck out six times in his first eight games (29 plate appearances). He has struck out at least once in his last nine games — 16 whiffs in 32 PAs).

He clearly need time off to fix something, and that’s hard to do with a sore thumb.

Yet, Pence played in all of the Giants’ first 17 games, starting all but two.

That’s why I believe the thumb injury is a legit one.

While Pence heals (and/or rights himself), Williamson will get at least a couple of weeks with the big club.

The hope is he keeps hitting, provides a much-needed offensive spark and makes it very difficult for the Giants to send him back down.

But as long as Williamson can give the Giants something, they’ll be better off.

During the opening weeks of the season, Pence had an -0.4 WAR. That’s wins above replacement. And the replacement is your average Triple-A call-up.

The hope is that Williamson will be better than an average Triple-A call-up.

But with Pence setting a very low bar, anything Williamson can contribute will be a good thing.

Advertisements

A series of lists to show how bad San Francisco Giants are with RISP (tease: it’s really bad)

Evan Longoria

The San Francisco Giants’ offense is struggling.

And while the Giants rank fourth in the National League in batting, their batting in run-scoring situations is horrible.

So we’ll look at just how horrible by using NL rankings in various statistical categories with runners in scoring position.

Not to play spoiler here, but it’s pretty horrible.

Batting average with runners in scoring position (RISP)

  1. Giants .158
  2. Cubs .193
  3. Nationals .210
  4. Brewers .220
  5. Dodgers .228
  6. Reds .228
  7. Rockies .229
  8. Cardinals .242
  9. Marlins .250
  10. Mets .255
  11. D-backs .263
  12. Padres .283
  13. Phillies .284
  14. Pirates .315
  15. Braves .333

On-base percentage with RISP

  1. Giants .263
  2. Brewers .295
  3. Dodgers .303
  4. Rockies .330
  5. Cardinals .331
  6. Nationals .335
  7. Marlins .336
  8. Cubs .341
  9. Reds .343
  10. Padres .348
  11. D-backs .376
  12. Pirates .381
  13. Phillies .388
  14. Mets .390
  15. Braves . 424

Slugging percentage with RISP

  1. Giants .219
  2. Dodgers .267
  3. Cubs .289
  4. Reds .316
  5. Brewers .341
  6. Nationals .364
  7. Marlins .370
  8. Rockies .375
  9. Cardinals .392
  10. Mets .415
  11. D-backs .447
  12. Padres .504
  13. Phillies .509
  14. Pirates .556
  15. Braves .558

Highest strikeout percentage (Ks divide by PAs) with RISP

  1. Giants .281
  2. Reds .264
  3. Cubs .250
  4. Marlins .236
  5. Brewers .229
  6. Phillies .228
  7. Cardinals .228
  8. Nationals .226
  9. Padres .224
  10. Rockies .212
  11. D-backs .211
  12. Mets .204
  13. Dodgers .200
  14. Pirates .173
  15. Braves .173

Lowest run percentage (runs divided PA) with RISP

  1. Giants .209
  2. Reds .221
  3. Brewers .271
  4. Nationals .282
  5. Rockies .305
  6. Cubs .310
  7. Marlins .323
  8. Dodgers .325
  9. Padres .329
  10. Cardinals .331
  11. Mets .358
  12. D-backs .387
  13. Braves .405
  14. Phillies .430
  15. Pirates .440

For those looking to point a finger at this struggle with RISP, here is how individual hitters with more than 10 plate appearances with RISP have fared for the Giants.

  • Brandon Belt 3 for 10, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, .300 AVG, .429 OBP
  • Buster Posey 3 for 12, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, .250 AVG, .375 OBP
  • Joe Panik 2 for 12, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, .167 AVG, .231 OBP
  • Andrew McCutchen 3 for 22, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, .136 AVG, .208 OBP
  • Brandon Crawford 1 for 8, 1 RBI, 6 BB, 4 K, .125 AVG, .385 OBP
  • Evan Longoria 1 for 10, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K, .100 AVG, .182 OBP
  • Hunter Pence 1 for 12, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, .083 AVG, .143 OBP
  • Other hitters 4 for 18, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, .222 AVG, .318 OBP
  • Pitchers 0 for 10, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 8 K, .000 AVG, .000 OBP

Hapy Monday

Chris Stratton’s success leads us to look back at Giants’ first-round picks of the past decade

Chris Stratton’s seven innings of one-hit shutout ball on Thursday in San Diego made us think …. How have the San Francisco Giants’ first-round draft picks fared in the past 10 years.

Back in the 1990s, the Giants had some real clunkers in the first round — Calvin Murray, Steve Soderstrom, Matt White.

In the 2000s, they hit some good ones who helped the Giants become World Champions — Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner.

So let’s look back at the past decade, remembering that the Giants own the No. 2 pick this June.

Here are the Giants’ first-round picks of the past 10 years and how they have fared.

2008 – BUSTER POSEY (No. 5 overall)

giphyBUster

Enough said

2008 – CONOR GILLASPIE (No. 37, supplemental first-round pick)

After being drafted out of Wichita State, Gillaspie got a very quick call-up in September 2008. He spent 2009 and 2010 in the minor before being recalled in June 2011. After collecting a World Series ring with the Giants in 2012 (he played six games with them), Gillaspie was traded to the White Sox, where he was their primary third baseman in 2013 and 2014. After struggling to start 2015, he was traded to the Angels, who later designated for assignment. He signed a minor-league with the Giants in the spring of 2016, and spent most of the season as a bench player. When Eduardo Nunez was hurt late in the season, Gillaspie stepped up big, delivering the decisive three-run home run in the Wild Card game against the Mets. He returned to a bench role in 2017 but was DFA’d in August, cleared waivers and played out the rest of the season at Triple-A Sacramento. He remains an unsigned free agent in 2018 at age 30.

conor

Conor Gillaspie

2009 – ZACK WHEELER (No. 6 pick)

The right-handed pitcher was one of the Giants’ top prospects when he was traded to the Mets in 2011 in exchange for Carlos Beltran. He made his big-league debut in 2013, going 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA with the Mets. He went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 2014 before missing all of 2015 and 2016 after Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2017 to go 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA in 17 starts. In his first start of 2018, Wheeler held the Marlins to one run on two hits over seven innings.

Zack Wheeler

New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler follows through with a pitch against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 20, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

2010 – GARY BROWN (No. 24 pick)

The speedy center fielder out of Cal State Fullerton was the Giants’ top prospect in 2011, being selected to the All-Star Futures Game. But he never progressed much once he reached Triple-A. He was a September call-up in 2014, going 3 for 7 in seven games. At the end of spring training, he was DFA’d by the Giants, claimed by the Cardinals, DFA’d again on April 21 and claimed by the Angels. He spent the balance of 2016 in Triple-A and released by the Angels in March 2016. He played independent baseball in Maryland before retiring last July.

BGrown.jpg

2011 – JOE PANIK (No. 29 pick)

Drafted as shortstop out of St. John’s with a pick that many draft experts felt was a reach in the first round, Panik made his debut with the Giants in June 2014 as they sought a replacement at second base for injured Marco Scutaro (Brandon Hicks, Dan Uggla etc.). Panik earned the job and hit .305 in 73 games and he was the starting second baseman as the Giants won the 2014 World Series. He’s been the Giants’ starting second baseman since, earning an All-Star Game selection in 2015 and a Gold Glove in 2016.

Joe Panik, Clayton Kershaw, Yasmani Grandal, Mark Wegner

San Francisco Giants’ Joe Panik, second from left, hits a solo home run as Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, left, watches along with catcher Yasmani Grandal, right, and home plate umpire Mark Wegner, top right, during the fifth inning of an opening day baseball game Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

2011 – KYLE CRICK (No. 49 supplement first-round pick)

The right-handed pitcher was drafted out of high school. He became the Giants’ top prospect, per Baseball America, in 2013 and 2014. But as he moved to Double-A in 2015, he began to struggle with control. In 2017, the Giants turned him into a reliever and he made his big-league debut last June, finishing the season with 3.06 ERA in 32.3 big-league innings. In January, he was traded along with 2016 second-round pick Bryan Reynolds to the Pirates for Andrew McCutchen. He’s currently pitching for the Pirates’ Triple-A team.

cricky

2012 – CHRIS STRATTON

2013 – CHRISTIAN ARROYO (No. 25 pick)

Drafted as a shortstop out of high school, Arroyo was a surprise pick to many as he was thought to be prepared to accept a scholarship at Florida. But he signed with the Giants and made quick and solid progression through the minors. At age 21, he made his big-league debut with the Giants on April 24, 2017. He got his first career hit on April 25 against Clayton Kershawn, then hit his first home run on April 26 against Sergio Romo. But then he began to struggle. He was sent back to the minors on June 4 with a .192 average. Injuries marred his 2017 season in Triple-A. In December, he was traded to the Rays as part of a deal to acquire Evan Longoria. He’s currently playing for the Rays’ Triple-A club.

arroyo

2014 – TYLER BEEDE (No. 14 pick)

A right-handed pitcher drafted out of Vanderbilt, Beede became the Giants’ top pitching prospect. In 2016, he lead the Double-A Eastern League with a 2.81 ERA and was second in strikeouts (135). After being limited by injury early in 2017, he went 6-7 with 4.79 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Sacramento. He made his big-league debut last Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, giving up two runs on three hits with five walks and three strikeouts in four innings. He is slated to make his second start on Sunday against the Padres.

Tyler Beede

2015 – PHIL BICKFORD (No. 18 pick)

The right-handed pitcher was the No. 10 overall pick in 2013 draft out of high school, but chose not to sign with the Blue Jays. The Giants picked him two years later out of the College of Southern Nevada. He was pitching in Class A in August 2016 when he was traded, along with catcher Andrew Susac, to the Brewers for reliever Will Smith. He was listed as the No. 54 prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com before he was hit with 50-game suspension for banned substances (not word what it was, but it may have been marijuana) and then he had surgery after breaking two bones in his hand after being hit by comebacker. That limited him to six appearances in rookie ball in 2017.

Bicky

2016 – No first-round pick (surrendered to sign Jeff Samardzija)

2017 – HELIOT RAMOS (No. 19 pick)

Drawing comparisons to Yoenis Cespedes, Ramos was drafted as a 17-year-old outfielder out of Puerto Rico. He hit .348 with six homers in 138 at-bats at rookie level last year. As Baseball America’s 79th-best prospect in baseball, Ramos was coveted by other teams in offseason trade discussions. The Giants kept him and he is starting the season at low-A Augusta.

Heliot.jpg

Giants’ Chris Stratton has suddenly developed into the kind of pitcher you’d expect from a first-rounder

Chris Stratton

About year ago, San Francisco Giants pitcher Chris Stratton could have changed his name to “And Chris Stratton.”

That’s because any discussion about prospects in the Giants system would end with “…. and Chris Stratton.” You know, it would go like “Christian Arroyo, Tyler Beede, Chris Shaw, etc. … and Chris Stratton.”

Stratton’s progression up the Giants’ farm system made him sort of an afterthought. Not a flop as a former first-round draft pick. Just an afterthought.

He could have been best described in a report on him by minorleaguebaseball.com in April of 2017.

“There’s nothing spectacular about Stratton. He has four adequate pitches and he throws strikes. He won’t dominate, but he is versatile, a good 11th man on a staff for mop up and long relief work who can make some starts if necessary.”

Not a glowing report for player who was taken with the 20th pick of the 2012 draft as an All-American out of Mississippi State. But you’d struggle to find many scouts or Giants fans who would disagree with that assessment.

That’s because his numbers in minors were just kind of OK. Not terrible, but not great. Just OK.

In six minor-league seasons, Stratton was 38-34 with a 4.07 ERA in 111 starts and 116 games.

There was a glimmer of hope in 2016 that Stratton might actually develop into the pitcher the Giants hoped he’d become when they picked him in 2012.

That season, he went 12-6 with 3.87 ERA in 20 starts for Triple-A Sacramento. Not glowing numbers, but pretty solid in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

Stratton got his first major-league call in 2016, when he had a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings of relief.

But then in 2017, his Triple-A number got very “meh” again — 4-5 with 5.11 ERA in 15 starts. He was 26 years and starting to run out of opportunities with the Giants.

But then last July, the Giants needed to call up a pitcher who could give them innings, and their top pitching prospects in Sacramento — Tyler Beede and Joan Gregorio — were on the DL. So Stratton got the call, as he was on the 40-man roster.

He made a spot start against Detroit and a four-inning relief appearance later in July against the Pirates.

After coming off a brief DL stint, he was put into the rotation in August and seized the opportunity.

He made nine starts in the last two months season, going 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 43 strikeouts, 20 walks in 44.2 innings. He had three scoreless outings of 6+ innings.

That thrusted him into competition for a spot in the rotation heading into this spring. Injuries to Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija locked Stratton into the rotation, but he probably would have made the rotation without the injuries.

In the early part of season, Stratton has established himself as the Giants’ best starting pitcher not named Johnny Cueto.

In three starts, Stratton has a 2.60 ERA with an 0.981 WHIP.

If there is a knock on Stratton, it’s that he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, which often leads to him burning a lot pitches. This was evidenced Thursday in San Diego when the Padres’ Austin Hedges fouled off seven pitches before flying out.

Even so, Stratton pitched seven complete innings for the first time in his big-league career, holding the Padres to one hit. That win, oddly enough, was Padres pitcher Clayton Richard, who entered the game in the third as a pinch-hitter and never actually pitched in the game. According to Elias, it was the first time since 1935 that a team was limited to one hit that came from a pitcher who didn’t start the game.

Put this season’s three starts with last season’s final nine starts, Stratton 5-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 12 starts (62 innings).

That’s All-Star like.

It’s good enough to allow us to say that right now the best starting pitchers the Giants have are Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto … and Chris Stratton.

 

 

 

 

Here are the Giants’ first-round picks of the past 10 years and how they have fared.

2008 – BUSTER POSEY (No. 5 overall)

 

Enough said

 

2008 – CONOR GILLASPIE (No. 37, supplemental first-round pick)

After being drafted out of Wichita State, Gillaspie got a very quick call-up in September 2008. He spent 2009 and 2010 in the minor before being recalled in June 2011. After collecting a World Series ring with the Giants in 2012 (he played six games with them), Gillaspie was traded to the White Sox, where he was their primary third baseman in 2013 and 2014. After struggling to start 2015, he was traded to the Angels, who later designated for assignment. He signed a minor-league with the Giants in the spring of 2016, and spent most of the season as a bench player. When Eduardo Nunez was hurt late in the season, Gillaspie stepped up big, delivering the decisive three-run home run in the Wild Card game against the Mets. He returned to a bench role in 2017 but was DFA’d in August, cleared waivers and played out the rest of the season at Triple-A Sacramento. He remains an unsigned free agent in 2018 at age 30.

2009 – ZACK WHEELER (No. 6 pick)

The right-handed pitcher was one of the Giants’ top prospects when he was traded to the Mets in 2011 in exchange for Carlos Beltran. He made his big-league debut in 2013, going 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA with the Mets. He went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 2014 before missing all of 2015 and 2016 after Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2017 to go 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA in 17 starts. In his first start of 2018, Wheeler held the Marlins to one run on two hits over seven innings.

2010 – GARY BROWN (No. 24 pick)

The speedy center fielder out of Cal State Fullerton was the Giants’ top prospect in 2011, being selected to the All-Star Futures Game. But he never progressed much once he reached Triple-A. He was a September call-up in 2014, going 3 for 7 in seven games. At the end of spring training, he was DFA’d by the Giants, claimed by the Cardinals, DFA’d again on April 21 and claimed by the Angels. He spent the balance of 2016 in Triple-A and released by the Angels in March 2016. He played independent baseball in Maryland before retiring last July.

2011 – JOE PANIK (No. 29 pick)

Drafted as shortstop out of St. John’s with a pick that many draft experts felt was a reach in the first round, Panik made his debut with the Giants in June 2014 as they sought a replacement at second base for injured Marco Scutaro (Brandon Hicks, Dan Uggla etc.). Panik earned the job and hit .305 in 73 games and he was the starting second baseman as the Giants won the 2014 World Series. He’s been the Giants’ starting second baseman since, earning an All-Star Game selection in 2015 and a Gold Glove in 2016.

2011 – KYLE CRICK (No. 49 supplement first-round pick)

The right-handed pitcher was drafted out of high school. He became the Giants’ top prospect, per Baseball America, in 2013 and 2014. But as he moved to Double-A in 2015, he began to struggle with control. In 2017, the Giants turned him into a reliever and he made his big-league debut last June, finishing the season with 3.06 ERA in 32.3 big-league innings. In January, he was traded along with 2016 second-round pick Bryan Reynolds to the Pirates for Andrew McCutchen. He’s currently pitching for the Pirates’ Triple-A team.

2012 – CHRIS STRATTON

2013 – CHRISTIAN ARROYO (No. 25 pick)

Drafted as a shortstop out of high school, Arroyo was a surprise pick to many as he was thought to be prepared to accept a scholarship at Florida. But he signed with the Giants and made quick and solid progression through the minors. At age 21, he made his big-league debut with the Giants on April 24, 2017. He got his first career hit on April 25 against Clayton Kershawn, then hit his first home run on April 26 against Sergio Romo. But then he began to struggle. He was sent back to the minors on June 4 with a .192 average. Injuries marred his 2017 season in Triple-A. In December, he was traded to the Rays as part of a deal to acquire Evan Longoria. He’s currently playing for the Rays’ Triple-A club.

2014 – TYLER BEEDE (No. 14 pick)

A right-handed pitcher drafted out of Vanderbilt, Beede became the Giants’ top pitching prospect. In 2016, he lead the Double-A Eastern League with a 2.81 ERA and was second in strikeouts (135). After being limited by injury early in 2017, he went 6-7 with 4.79 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Sacramento. He made his big-league debut last Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, giving up two runs on three hits with five walks and three strikeouts in four innings. He is slated to make his second start on Sunday against the Padres.

2015 – PHIL BICKFORD (No. 18 pick)

The right-handed pitcher was the No. 10 overall pick in 2013 draft out of high school, but chose not to sign with the Blue Jays. The Giants picked him two years later out of the College of Southern Nevada. He was pitching in Class A in August 2016 when he was traded, along with catcher Andrew Susac, to the Brewers for reliever Will Smith. He was listed as the No. 54 prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com before he was hit with 50-game suspension for banned substances (not word what it was, but it may have been marijuana) and then he had surgery after breaking two bones in his hand after being hit by comebacker. That limited him to six appearances in rookie ball in 2017.

2016 – No first-round pick (surrendered to sign Jeff Samardzija)

2017 – HELIOT RAMOS (No. 19 pick)

Drawing comparisons to Yoenis Cespedes, Ramos was drafted as a 17-year-old outfielder out of Puerto Rico. He hit .348 with six homers in 138 at-bats at rookie level last year. As Baseball America’s 79th-best prospect in baseball, Ramos was coveted by other teams in offseason trade discussions. The Giants kept him and he is starting the season at low-A Augusta.

Giants are bad with runners in scoring position, and it’s worse than you think

Buster Posey

Nine games into the 2018 season, and the San Francisco Giants have been held to one or no runs in six of those nine games.

And so the call has gone out “The Giants need to start hitting.”

Well, that’s true and it’s not true — depending on how you look at it.

One stat that would indicate that the Giants are hitting, relatively, is their ranking in team batting average.

The Giants currently rank fifth in the National League in hitting. So that doesn’t sound so bad.

But the problem is that almost no one in the National League is hitting in the early days of the season.

The Pirates lead the NL in hitting at .283, then come the Braves at .267. In third are the Mets at .247.

Last season, a .247 team batting average would have ranked 14th in the NL at season’s end, one spot behind the Giants’ .249.

Given that, the Giants’ .239 team batting average this season doesn’t look so hot.

What’s worse is that the Giants have not been able to convert hits into runs.

The Giants rank 15th in the NL in runs scored with 25, and 10 of those runs have come in one game.

Why is that?

Well, the Giants’ ability to deliver hits in scoring situations is one big culprit.

The Giants are 8 for 67 with runners in scoring position. That’s a .116 average.

Very, very bad.

But it gets worse, if you can fathom that.

Of the Giants’ eight hits with runners in scoring position, only four have produced runs.

That’s right four hits failed to score a runner.

And when you consider, given the Giants’ lack of power, there whole offensive strategy is based on the idea of get-em-on, get-em-over, get-em-in.

Well, right now they are struggling mightily on that last piece.

Here are the eight hits this season with runners in scoring position.

HIT 1: Game 1, March 29 at Dodgers

In the second inning with Hunter Pence on second base, Brandon Belt blooped a single to right, Pence was held up at third.

HIT 2: Game 5, April 3 vs. Mariners

In the eighth inning, after Gregor Blanco led off with a double, Kelby Tomlinson singled to center. Blanco was held at third base.

HIT 3: Game 6, April 4 vs. Mariners

In the first inning, with runners on first and second, Buster Posey hit a slow chopper to third that Kyle Seager couldn’t get a handle on for a infied single, loading the bases.

HIT 4: Game 6, April 4 vs. Mariners

In the fifth inning, with runners on first and second, Pablo Sandoval homers to right.

HIT 5: Game 6, April 4 vs. Mariners

In the seventh inning, with runners on first and second and two out, Brandon Belt singles to center, scoring Nick Hundley.

HIT 6: Game 7, April 7 vs. Dodgers

In the seventh innning, with Austin Jackson on second and one out, Andrew McCutchen hits a bouncer over the bag at third for an infield single. Jackson stayed at second.

HIT 7: Game 7, April 7 vs. Dodgers

In the 14th inning, with runners on first and third and no outs, McCutchen homers to left.

HIT 8: Game 8, April 8 vs. Dodgers

In the eighth inning, with runners on first and second an no outs, Buster Posey single to right, scoring Pence from second.

Splash Hits in April are right in season with Panda at the plate

Panoval

It’s April, and it’s already Splash Hit season.

Pablo Sandoval launched the first Splash Hit of 2018 when he launched Felix Hernandez’s final pitch on Wednesday for a three-run home run into McCovey Cove.

The Panda even called it. Sort of.

“I ain’t gonna lie. He called it,” Andrew McCutchen said. “He said he was going to hit a homer today.”

https://www.mlb.com/giants/video/share/sandovals-three-run-dinger/c-1906902283?tid=8878828

It marked the first April Splash Hit since Brandon Crawford hit one on April 13, 2014, and only the second April Splash Hit since 2008.

Of the 77 Splash Hits, it was only the 11th in April.

It was the earliest Splash Hit by date, and the second earliest by schedule.

Barry Bonds had a Splash Hit in the Giants’ home opener in 2004. He also hit one in Game 2 in 2004, but that was in the seventh inning, so The Panda’s officially becomes the second earliest.

The Splash Hit also was Sandoval’s eighth Splash Hit, moving him into sole possession of second place in the Splash Hit list. It was his first Splash Hit since May 12, 2013. He, of course, spent 2015, 2016 and most of 2017 with the Red Sox. The nearly five-year gap between Splash Hits is the longest gap between Splash Hits by one player.

Of course, Bonds tops the list with 35, then comes Sandoval with eight and Brandon Belt with seven. Denard Span is the only other Giant with more than two. Span hit five and accounted for the last three Splash Hits.

EARLY SPLASH HITS

  1. Barry Bonds 2004, Game 1
  2. Pablo Sandoval 2018, Game 2 (fifth inning)
  3. Barry Bonds 2004, Game 2 (seventh inning)
  4. Barry Bonds 2001, Game 4
  5. Michael Tucker 2005, Game 5
  6. Brandon Crawford 2014, Game 6

Homers from Panik only part of a very unlikely start to 2018 for Giants

Johnny Cueto

The San Francisco Giants have nearly $52 million worth of pitching on the disabled list – in 2018 salary – and yet they are 2-0 because of a pair of 1-0 victories.

That seems about as likely as the fact that the Giants scored both runs off home runs by Joe Panik – one off Clayton Kershaw and the other off Kenley Jansen.

The Giants became the second team ever to open the season with back-to-back 1-0 victories. The 1943 Cincinnati Reds were the other team.

Since the 1943 Reds opened at home – as the Reds do every year – the Giants became the first team to accomplish the feat on the road.

Johnny Cueto took a perfect game into the seventh inning when Chris Taylor’s bloop single broke it up. Taylor was then erased on a double play by the next batter. Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland completed the shutout as the Dodgers sent the minimum – 27 batters – to the plate.

In 2017, the Giants were 0-23 when scoring just one run. So far in 2018, they are 2-0.

In 2017, the Giants didn’t record their first shutout win until June 2 – a 10-0 win at Phildelphia. They didn’t notch their second shutout until Aug. 21 – a 2-0 win over Milwaukee. They finished with five shutout wins.

It’s the second time in Giants history that they have opened with back-to-back shutout wins, and the first time they’ve done it on the road.

With John Burkett and Billy Swift starting, the 1994 Giants opened the season with 8-0 and 2-0 wins over the Pirates.

If the Giants can keep the Dodgers scoreless for 5.2 innings on Saturday, they will break the team record for most scoreless pitching innings to open a season, set in 1994.

Derek Holland gets his first pitching assignment for the Dodgers on Saturday. Hopefully, Holland can keep the streak going.

If he can’t, hopefully the Giants hitters – besides Panik – can get going against the first right-handed starter they’ll see this season – Kenta Maeda.

Look for Bochy to employ this lineup vs. righty

2B Joe Panik

1B Brandon Belt

RF Andrew McCutchen

C Buster Posey

3B Evan Longoria

SS Brandon Crawford

RF Hunter Pence

CF Gregor Blanco

P Derek Holland