GIANTS 13, BREWERS 3
ANGELS 9, GIANTS 5
Well, it wouldn’t be spring training if Barry Zito didn’t hit a Brewer with a pitch.
The past two springs Zito plunked Prince Fielder with pitches (one intentional, one less-than-so). But with Fielder gone to the Tigers, Zito plunked Nyger Morgan with a pitch in the second inning.
Considering that Morgan is a much smaller target than Fielder, Zito’s control is clearly getting better.
“It was a curveball, so I mean sometimes you just throw through it,” Zito said of the pitch that plunked Morgan on the helmet. Morgan stayed in the game through the end of the inning, then left as a precaution.
Besides the hit-by-pitch, Zito gave up just one hit — an infield hit at that — no walks and one strikeout in three innings of work. He might have come out and pitched some in the fourth if the Giants hadn’t batted around for an eight-run inning.
Despite the solid results, Zito was mildly critical of his outing.
“I felt like I could’ve been better being down in the zone with the fastball,” Zito said. “If you look at strike ratio and how many balls were down in the zone, today was not as good as last game. But there were other positives today.”
Zito threw 30 of his 45 pitches for strikes, compared to 28 of 35 pitches for strikes last Tuesday.
Also, the Brewers’ lineup did not include the likes of Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez or Ryan Braun.
Well, it doesn’t matter whose in the lineup, we’ll take three scoreless innings from Zito any day. And the plunking of the mouthy Tony Plush was just a bonus.
That makes consecutive scoreless outings from Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Zito.
Now if we can get the Lincecum kid to come around ….
- 3B Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 4 with a double and home run in the Brewers game. He also whiffed twice.
- 2B Ryan Theriot got things going with the bat, going 2 for 2 with a double, walk and two runs.
- C Tommy Joseph continues to impress, going 2 for 3 with two home runs and 4 RBI. To read more on Joseph, click here.
- SS Brandon Crawford, who worked on shortening his swing in the offseason, continues to swing a hot bat, going 2 for 3 with a double, triple and 3 RBI.
- P Justin Fitzgerald gave up 3 runs on five hits in 2/3 of inning. The other six pitchers gave up no runs on four hits and no walks in 8 1/3 innings. They included Guillermo Mota, Sergio Romo, Steve Edlefsen and Hector Correa.
- The lineup in the split-squad at Tempe against the Angels was comprised mostly of younger players. But two veterans had nice games. 1B Aubrey Huff went 2 for 3 with a home run.
- Freddy Sanchez, playing DH vs. the Angels, went 1 for 3 with a run scored. Manager Bruce Bochy said Sanchez won’t play a game in the field until Wednesday at the earliest.
Brian Wilson will make his spring debut and pitch an inning as the Giants take on the Mariners in Scottsdale. Eric Surkamp will get the start for the Giants and Buster Posey is slated to catch four innings. He reported no soreness after catching two innings on Friday.
Matt Cain pitched two solid innings and Aubrey Huff hit his first spring training home run. But two fielding gaffes led to five runs as the Brewers beat the Giants in a rare early-spring night game at Scottsdale Stadium.
Cain gave up two walks and a walk in two scoreless innings. Huff lined a home run to right in the fourth and walked in two at-bats as the Giants built a 3-0 lead through five innings.
But then the Brewers scored five unearned runs in the sixth and seven innings.
Jeremy Affeldt should have had a 1-2-3 sixth. Instead, he gave up three unearned runs. It started on a chopper to third by Chris Gomez that Pablo Sandoval completely whiffed. Affeldt should have bailed himself out by picking off Gomez, but Gomez beat Huff’s throw to second.
Affeldt then got two groundballs that should have got him out of the inning. Instead, it plated the first run. Affeldt, now working overtime, had a long at-bat by George Kottaras that ended in a walk, and Zelous Wheeler then belted a two-run homer off the winded Affeldt.
Sergio Romo struck out the side in the seventh, but the Brewers got two more runs. The Brewers put two runners on a rare walk by Romo and a bloop single. But the inning should have ended on Travis Ishikawa’s fly ball to left, but Justin Christian just plain dropped the ball, and two runs scored.
Brett Pill continued a hot early spring with a double in three at-bats.
Also worth noting was the 0-for-3 by Brandon Belt, which included an opposite-field fly ball to the warning track, a smoked liner to second and deep fly out to left center that the Brewers Logan Shaefer did a nice job tracking down. Belt is swinging the bat very well this spring.
Barry Zito makes his first spring start as the Giants take on the Dodgers in Glendale at noon PST. The game will be televised on a tape-delayed basis by the MLB Network at 7 p.m.
It’s spring. It’s early. It’s in Arizona, where the ball tends to carry.
But the Giants should be encouraged by the early hitting results in spring training. In split-squad games Sunday, the Giants beat the Diamondbacks 11-1 and tied the Brewers 1-1.
Against the Diamondbacks, the hitters at the top of the lineup responded. Leadoff hitter Angel Pagan went 2 for 4 with an RBI. No. 2 hitter Melky Cabrera was 2 for 4 with a double and run scored.
“The two guys on the top of the order are showing we’re more athletic now,” manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s early, two games. Even with that, you like how it’s going right now. They’re swinging the bat.”
Bochy may stay with Pagan and Cabrera atop the lineup even when 2B Freddy Sanchez is ready to play. Sanchez’s right-handed bat may be needed toward the bottom of the lineup where the Giants get lefty heavy with Aubrey Huff or Brandon Belt, Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Craword.
Here are other hitting highlights vs. the Diamondbacks:
- Aubrey Huff, 2 for 3, run
- Brett Pill, 3 for 5, 2 runs, 2 RBI, 3B
- Ryan Theriot 2 for 3, 2 runs, RBI
- Mike Fontenot 3 for 4, run, RBI, 2B
- Hector Sanchez, 3 for 3, run, 3 RBI, 2B
Pitching was handled by a group of Fresno candidates: Brian Burres, Mark Kown, Ramon Ortiz, Justin Fitgerald, Shawn Sanford and Danny Otero.
Pitchers more likely to open the season with the big club were pitching in the game against the Brewers.
Madison Bumgarner allowed one run on one hit with no walkd and four strikeouts while getting through 2 2/3 innings.
Shane Loux pitch 2 1/3 score innings. He was followed by scoreless innings by Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla, Heath Hembree (two strikeouts) and Wilimin Rodriguez. Only Rodriguez allowed a hit.
The Giants pushed across their lone run in the sixth off Brewers closer John Axford as Connor Gillaspie, Eli Whiteside and Brandon Crawford strung together singles.
Outfielder Gary Brown, in his first spring start, went 0 for 4 with a strikeout.
Giants fans around the world took a sign of relief. Matt Cain bounced back in his first in-game action in more than two weeks by throwing three scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out one. No walks.
The Brewers went on to beat the Giants 12-8.
Cain, who was sidelined with some elbow inflammation, was only slated to throw two innings. But he sailed through the first two innings in 18 pitches, so he went out again in the third. He finished with 43 pitches, 29 strikes.
“I looked like Matty didn’t miss a beat,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Now, the challenge is to get Cain back on course to be ready to start the season.
“I think I’ll be fine,” Cain told the San Jose Mercury News. “I’ve been able to do rotator cuff and (scapula) work even when I wasn’t throwing every four days, so I’ve been able to keep my arm strength there.”
Bochy said that Cain will probably get a 60-pitch count on his next outing, perhaps with an extra day of rest.
If he pitches on four-days rest now, he could get three more spring starts before opening the season on the fourth game of the season. If the Giants feel that he only needs two more spring starts, then he can open the season in the No. 3 spot of the rotation that he was projected in.
On the flip side, Jeff Suppan did not have a stellar outing. Suppan, facing the Brewers for the third time this spring, gave up six runs (five earned) on four hits and two walks in one inning of work. His spring ERA shot up to 6.30.
It’s the kind of outing that may take Suppan out of the running for the final spot in the bullpen. He’s currently battling Ryan Vogelsong, Guillermo Mota and Dan Runzler for that spot.
Here are the other highlights:
AUBREY HUFF: Huff-Daddy was 3 for 3 with two runs and three RBI, including a home run to raise his spring average to .333.
PABLO SANDOVAL: Hit his third home run of the spring. He went 1 for 3.
BUSTER POSEY: Had a double in 2 ABs. He’s hitting .458.
ANDRES TORRES: Tripled for the second time in as many days. He’s hitting .379 this spring.
MoreSplashHits is getting caught up after a busy week. The Giants played four games over the weekend, winning three and improving to 8-3 on the spring.
The weekend included the spring debut of The Beard. MoreSplashHits always thought Brian Wilson was a member of the Beach Boys. But looking at The Beard, we’re thinking maybe it was ZZ Top.
Here are highlights from the weekend.
GIANTS 6, MARINERS 1
TIM LINCECUM: The Freak continues to get into regular-season form. He struck out seven in 3 2/3 IPs with no runs, 3 hits and 3 BBs.
BRIAN WILSON: The Beard made its spring debut, striking out two with no hits or walks in one 10-pitch inning.
BUSTER POSEY: Posey had a double, two RBI and a walk in two at-bats. He’s hitting .643 for the spring.
PABLO SANDOVAL: After back-to-back 0-fers, Sandoval went 1 for 3 with an RBI. He’s hitting .333.
TRAVIS ISHIKAWA: Ishikawa went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. He’s hitting .250 for the spring, but not a good outing.
ATHLETICS 6, GIANTS 0
MADISON BUMGARNER: Bumgarner had a solid start, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run Bumgarner was unearned as the Giants kicked the ball around, committing four errors on the day.
GIANTS (ss) 7, BREWERS 2
JEFF SUPPAN: Suppan had another outstanding outing, 3 IP, 1 HIT, 0 Ks, 0 BBs. He’s doing what he needs to earn a spot on the roster. One thing to consider: both spring starts came against the Brewers. Let’s see what he can do against another lineup.
BRANDON BELT: Belt went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, including his first spring HR. The talk continues to be that he’ll open the season in Fresno. How long he remains there will be up to Belt and any need with the big club.
MARK DEROSA: DeRosa continues to have a solid spring, going 1 for 2 with a 2B and 2 RBI.
GIANTS (ss) 5, DODGERS 3
BUSTER POSEY: Posey belted his second spring HR, going 1 for 2.
BARRY ZITO: Just a couple of days after being mixed in controversy stirred by a Chronicle report that his status with the team was on thin ice, Zito had a solid second outing, 3 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks.
Bowling Ball-Gate continues.
The Giants’ Barry Zito and the Brewers’ Prince Fielder exchanged words after Zito issued a first-inning walk to the slugger in the first inning of Monday’s 10-9 Giants win over the Brew Crew.
A frustrating Zito issued a four-pitch walk to Fielder. After the first pitch, the lefty asked home plate umpire Stephen Barga where the pitch was.
Fielder barked at Zito and was still talking when he got to first base, and another umpire stepped in between the two players.
“Prince was letting me know that it was a ball,” Zito explained.
When pressed further, each player offered different explanations.
“Yeah, we talked a little bit,” Zito said. “Caught up. Asked him how his offseason was. Family’s good. No new tattoos.”
Fielder remarked: “I like Barry. I really do. (Mutual agent Scott Boras) called and we have dinner tonight. I asked (Zito) which one we were going to. I said Houston’s. He thought Fleming’s.”
And then Fielder let out a big chuckle.
The back story on this event dates back to September 2009 when Fielder, celebrating a game-winning home run against the Giants, jumped on home plate and his teammates fell backwards as if knocked over by a bowling ball.
The Giants didn’t appreciate the stunt. So the following spring in the two teams’ first spring meeting, Zito hit Fielder square in the back with his first pitch.
MoreSplashHits had no issues with Zito’s message pitch last spring. At least THAT pitch went were Zito intended.
The same could not be said for Monday’s outing.
Zito walked five of the 13 batters he faced. After loading the bases in the first, Zito worked out of the inning by inducing a pair of popups. He gave up two runs in the second, and was removed after walking Fielder a second time to force in the second run.
“I’m just working on timing,” Zito said. “I had some where it clicked and some where the timing was off a little bit.”
But there was good news — apart from the victory — for the Giants on Monday.
MARK DEROSA: Starting again at 2B, DeRosa continues to swing the bat well. He went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI, including his first spring training home run.
BRANDON BELT: Belt made his first spring start and began to make his case to make the big league club. Belt went 3 for 5 with 2 runs, two doubles and 4 RBI. However, manager Bruce Bochy reiterated that the plan is for Belt to start the season at Triple-A unless injury and an incredibly impressive spring by Belt make the Giants rethink that.
TRAVIS ISHIKAWA: Ishikawa made his first start in left field, as the Giants tried to improve his versatility on the team. He wetn 2 for 3 with a double and run scored. “It was a lot fun. I hope I get more chances out there,” he said afterwards.
JEFF SUPPAN: Batting for a roster spot, Suppan got off to a good start, throwing three scoreless and hitless innings.
After two scoreless outings, Jonathan Sanchez struggled to find the plate Sunday, walking five batters and giving up six earned runs in two-plus innings of work in the San Francisco Giants 10-8 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Sanchez lost control of his fastball in the second inning. He walked five of the 13 batters he faced. Twenty-seven of 53 pitches were out of the strike zone.
“I know what’ wrong,” Sanchez told the San Jose Mercury News. “I’m not finishing my pitchers. I have stay back more, get on top of it more. It’s something I’ll be working on.”
It’s the third consecutive unpolished outing by a Giants starter, following Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
On the flip side, the Giants hitters had a good day. They jumped on Brewers’ starter Jeff Suppan for four runs in four innings, going against a trend of slow starts by Giants hitters in spring training games.
The Giants hit four home runs in the game. Aaron Rowand led of the game for the Giants with a solo shot to right center for his first spring homer. Aubrey Huff followed three batters later with another home run. In the fourth inning, Fred Lewis and Nate Schierholtz also went deep off Suppan.
Inside the box score
Rowand was 2 for 3 with a double and home run. His spring average is .500.
Edgar Renteria is starting to heat up. He was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Buster Posey was 2 for 2 with two RBI. He’s hitting .429. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Brewers stole three bases in four attempts with Posey behind the plate.
Aaron Rowand felt tightness in his left quad chasing down a fly ball in the seventh inning Sunday, and manager Bruce Bochy said his center fielder will be rested for a couple of days.
Travis Ishikawa ran the bases for the first time this spring and hopes to play in an intrasquad game in Minor League camp later this week. Ishikawa, who injured ligaments in his foot during a mishap at home this winter, says he feels certain that he’ll be ready to play by the Giants’ April 5 season opener. But he also admits that he’ll be dealing with discomfort in the foot for much of the season.
The Giants will play split-squad games on Monday. Madison Bumgarner will get the start in the 6:05 p.m. against the Texas Rangers in Surprise, Ariz. The Giants also will face the Padres at 7:05 p.m. in Peoria, with Guillermo Mota leading a contingent of relievers on the mound.
These will be penultimate split-squad games for the Giants, so roster cuts may soon follow later this week.
The Giants next split-squad day is March 24 when the Giants face the Reds in a regularly schedule game and the Royals in a makeup of a March 7 rainout.