- WP: Sergio Romo (1-0)
- HR: Pablo Sandoval (2), Brandon Crawford (1)
Sunday was almost a GREAT day for Splash Hits.
Nah, come to think of it, it was a great day for Splash Hits.
Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the 10th inning by hitting his first Splash Hit, shooting a pitch off Rex Brothers (a left-hander no less) into McCovey Cove right down the right-field line to lift the Giants over the Rockies 5-4.
It was the first Splash Hit since Pablo Sandoval put one in the water on May 12, 2013.
Sandoval almost made it two Splash Hits in the same game in the sixth inning.
Sandoval’s shot to over the No. 3 archway was well on its way to the Bay, but the ball actually hit one of the flag poles that rise high above the Willie Mays Wall in right and bounced back.
If Sandoval had reached the water, it would have been a first — it would have been the first time two different Giants hit Splash Hits in the same game.
Barry Bonds twice hit a pair of Splash Hits in the same game — on May 10, 2000 vs. the Cardinals (Nos. 2 and 3 Splash Hits overall); and May 18, 2002 vs. the Marlins (Nos. 19 and 20).
Crawford’s home run was the 64th Splash Hit at AT&T/SBC/Pacific Bell Park. He became the 17th different player to record at Splash Hit. (Remember: Splash Hits are home runs on the fly into the bay hit by Giants hitters).
It was also the second walk-off Splash Hit. Barry Bonds had the other on Aug. 19, 2003.
So Barry Bonds hit 35 career Splash Hits.
Barry Bonds spent time this spring working with Brandon Crawford.
Brandon Crawford hits his first Splash Hit.
Here’s the list of Splash Hitters
- Barry Bonds 35
- Pablo Sandoval 7
- Brandon Belt 3
- Felipe Crespo 2
- Ryan Klesko 2
- Michael Tucker 2
- Andres Torres 2
- Aubrey Huff 2
- JT Snow 1
- Jose Cruz Jr 1
- AJ Pierzynski 1
- Randy Winn 1
- Fred Lewis 1
- John Bowker 1
- Nate Schierholtz 1
- Carlos Beltran 1
- Brandon Crawford 1
After an off day, Tim Lincecum faces Josh Beckett as the Giants and Dodgers open a three-game series at AT&T Park at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.
- LP: Matt Cain (0-2)
There is a saying: “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.”
Well, if that’s the case, the Giants’ hopes for a successful season is looking pretty flimsy right about now.
With Brandon Hicks getting the bulk of the starts at 2B, the Giants’ bench looks like this:
- C Hector Sanchez
- IF Joaquin Arias
- IF Ehire Adrianza
- OF Gregor Blanco
- OF Juan Perez
People were talking about the struggles at the top of the order Saturday — Hunter Pence was in the No. 2 hole and batting .167, Pablo Sandoval in the No. 3 hole and batting .152 — but it’s really the struggles on the bench that are much worse.
Those five bench players listed above are hitting a combined 5 for 66 (.076).
By comparison, Giants pitchers this season are 4 for 20 (.200).
As manager Bruce Bochy is trying to find days off to rest his starters — Angel Pagan and Buster Posey got one on Friday; Brandon Belt got his first rest on Saturday — it means starting players who are recording outs at an alarming rate.
And the only way that Bochy knows to try to get these guys started is to give them at-bats.
He can’t send them down to Fresno to find their hitting stroke. Arias, Blanco and Adrianza are out of options, meaning they’d have to clear waivers before getting a demotion.
Sanchez could be sent down, but the call-up options are much better. Andrew Susac is hitting .370 in Fresno, which is great. But the Giants don’t want Susac to get called up and make one start a week. They want him to getting playing time and continue to progress. They have a veteran backup in Fresno in Guillermo Quiroz, but he’s hitting .154 … IN FRESNO. And everyone hits in Fresno.
The same thing is at play in the outfield. Yeah, they could demote Juan Perez, but who do you get to replace him?
Prospect Gary Brown is hitting .317. But, again, the Giants want Brown to get ABs, and that won’t happen with the Giants. The veteran OF option is Tyler Colvin, who is hitting .194 in Fresno.
CAIN LOOKED BETTER
The silver lining from Saturday’s game is Matt Cain looked the best he’s looked so far this season.
Cain gave up one run on four hits and three walks over seven innings in a 116-pitch outing. He struck out eight.
Despite the solid outing, Cain tried to take the blame for the loss, pointing to a double steal set up Troy Tulowitzki’s sacrifice fly that accounted for the game’s only run.
“You make a leadoff walk and I did a bad job of paying attention to him on second,” Cain said. “That’s what cost us.”
Nice try, Matt. But you can’t win a game if you don’t score a run.
It was the sixth time in Cain’s career that he was saddled with a loss despite only allowing one run, and the first time in four seasons.
Tyler Chatwood is expected to be activated off the DL (hamstring) and make his first start of the season for the Rockies on Sunday. The Giants will counter with Tim Hudson. Chatwood gave up one earned run in 11.2 innings against the Giants last season. Sunday’s game start at 1:05 p.m.
- WP: Madison Bumgarner (2-0)
- HR: Madison Bumgarner (1)
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was looking for a good opportunity to give Buster Posey and Angel Pagan a rest.
With Madison Bumgarner on the mound, Bochy figured the Giants could still win without their two hottest hitters.
And that’s how it worked out, although not in the manner that Bochy was probably thinking.
Bumgarner drove in five runs, including four on a fourth-inning grand slam as the Giants beat the Rockies in the first Orange Friday of the season.
When Bumgarner took Jorge De La Rosa deep to right for his third career home run, Bumgarner became the second San Francisco Giants pitcher to hit a grand slam, joining Shawn Estes who did it May 24, 2000 against the Montreal Expos.
In winning, the Giants erased an early 3-0 deficit. The Rockies dinked and dunked Bumgarner, except for the rocket Carlos Gonzalez hit into the bay in the top of the third for a two-run home run.
Brandon Crawford opened the bottom of the third with a triple and scored when Bumgarner hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field.
In the bottom of the fourth, things got odd.
Pablo Sandoval opened the inning with a single, followed by a Michael Morse walk. Hector Sanchez flied out, and Brandon Belt struck out.
The Giants looked like they caught a bad break when Brandon Hicks was hit on the foot with a pitch that appeared destined to the backstop, which would have allowed Sandoval to score from third. Instead, the bases were loaded.
But the Giants got that run when Brandon Crawford walked.
Then came Bumgarner, who jumped on a De La Rosa fast ball and drove it deep into the left-field bleachers for a grand slam and a 6-3 lead.
The Giants wasted scoring chances later in the game, but Sergio Romo struck out the side in the ninth to seal the win.
In addition to giving Pagan and Posey a rest, Bochy was also looking to get some of his bench players some at-bats to get them out of their early season funk.
Juan Perez started in center and went 0 for 4. Hector Sanchez started at catcher and went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch. Add in Ehire Adrianza’s out in a pinch-hit spot (oddly pinch-hitting for Bumgarner), and the Giants usual bench players of Perez, Sanchez, Adrianza, Gregor Blanco and Joaquin Arias are hitting a combined 5 for 59 (.085).
Perez did have a nice throw to double off Jordan Pacheco at first to end the eighth.
SANDOVAL TO BENCH LATE
As he did Thursday night, Pablo Sandoval threw the ball away on a play when he was better off to just hold the ball.
Nolan Arenado bunted to third with Sandoval playing back. Sandoval charged the ball, and did not have a chance to get Arenado. But he threw anyway, and the throw went into the stands.
That allowed Arenado to take second, which allowed him to score on Charlie Blackmon’s bloop single.
In the top of the ninth, Sandoval was sent to the bench in favor of Joaquin Arias.
That’s not supposed to happen for a player who wants a $90 million contract. Especially one hitting .143.
MORE TWO-OUT MAGIC
Five of the six runs the Giants scored on Friday came with two outs. That makes 41 of 61 runs this season coming with two outs.
Matt Cain, who has enjoyed success against the Rockies, takes the mound against the former A’s pitcher Brett Anderson. Anderson is 0-2 this season, but he’s had two quality starts (both exactly 6 IP with 3 ERs for a 4.50 ERA). But that’s two more quality starts than what Cain has enjoyed this season. Game time is 1:05 p.m. and the game will be aired on MLB Network.
The Giants snapped a six-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
It also snapped a five-game losing streak at Coors Field.
The Giants finished the first half of the season a 39-42, their worst 81-game record since going 35-46 in 2008, the Giants’ last losing season.
Once again, Buster Posey made a key contribution. Playing his second consecutive game at first base, Posey homered in the third inning. It was the fourth time in the past five games that Posey has gone deep.
Posey was at the plate when the Giants scored again in the fifth, although he didn’t get credit for the RBI because the Giants scored with help from a Colorado error.
With runners on second and third, Posey grounded to second. After Posey was thrown out at first, Rockies first baseman Jordan Pacheco tried to throw out Tony Abreu, who had wandered too far away from second. But Pacheco’s throw went into left field, allowing Andres Torres to score.
It was the first time since June 15 the Giants scored an unearned run.
Hunter Pence followed with a two-run home run to right center. It was the first time in five games a player other than Buster Posey had driven in a run for the Giants.
The Giants caught another break in the seventh when Juan Perez scored all the way from first on a Texas Leaguer to shallow right-center by Guillermo Quiroz.
That was more than enough for Madison Bumgarner, who gave up a solo home run to Carlos Gonzalez in seven innings of work.
Sergio Romo worked around a two-out double by Todd Helton in the ninth for his first save in 11 games. He had not saved a game on the road since June 2 in St. Louis.
Now the road trip heads to Cincinnati for a four-game set against the Reds.
For what it’s worth, the Giants have won their last four games at Cincinnati, including all three there during the NLDS last fall.
When the Giants handed the starting shortstop job to Brandon Crawford prior to the 2012 season, they told him that all he had to worry about was playing good defense.
The Giants would take any kind of offensive production he could offer.
But I’ve always like what I saw from Crawford, from the day he got called up to the majors. And it wasn’t just his grand slam in Milwaukee in his big-league debut. Even as he battled to hit .200 for the Giants that season, he just had the look of a good hitter.
But results have been slow in coming. Crawford followed up his .204 2011 season by hitting .248 in 2012. I felt 2013 could be a big season at the plate for Crawford. It was one reason why I drafted him in fantasy baseball league (and, yes, it’s an NL-only league; and, yes, I was the last owner to select a shortstop).
After a quiet first week, Crawford is starting to produce at the bottom of the lineup, and Tuesday brought one of the bigger moments of the brief big-league career.
With the Giants trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Giants got something going after walks to Gregor Blanco and Hector Sanchez to open the inning. Colorado starter Juan Nicasio was replaced by Adam Ottavino.
Crawford greeted Ottavino with a three-run home run to left — his first opposite-field home run since opening the 2011 with Class A San Jose rehabbing a broken finger suffered in spring training that year.
“I’ve kind of lost the feeling for opposite-field home runs,” Crawford quipped afterwards.
It was only his second home run in 363 at-bats at AT&T Park, and it was the first home run this season for a Giant not named Pence or Sandoval.
Here’s another interesting home run fact for Crawford: he’s hit eight home runs in his career — three have been three-run homers and two have been grand slams.
The Giants don’t need Crawford to be a .300 hitter for them to succeed. But if he manages to hit .260 or .270, it will be big boost.
And Tuesday’s win wasn’t just about Crawford’s blast. It was a team effort. Every Giant who took at least one plate appearance Tuesday got a hit or a walk — well, except Brandon Belt who went 0 for 5.
Angel Pagan went 3 for 5, Marco Scutaro went 3 for 4, Pablo Sandoval was 1 for 3, Hunter Pence was 2 for 5, Blanco was 1 for 3 with two walks, Sanchez drew two walks (SANCHEZ!!!). Even Tim Lincecum and pinch-hitters Nick Noonan and Andres Torres were 1 for 1, as the Giants banged out 14 hits and drew six walks.
And the bullpen was once again outstanding in relief of Lincecum, throwing four shutout innings, allowing no hits and only one walk. Good job by Jose Mijares, George Kontos, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, who is now 5-for-5 on save pops.
Lincecum had a terrible second inning, but he might have escaped trouble with a little help from his defense. After walking Troy Tulowitzki to open the inning, Michael Cuddyer hit grounder to Marco Scutaro. Instead of taking the sure out at first, Scutaro try to throw the lead runner out at second. His throw was off the mark, allowing Tulowitzki to take third. Todd Helton’s infield chopper brought the first out of the inning, but it also allowed Tulowitzki to score. After a walk to Wilin Rosario, a wild pitch and stolen base put runners on second and third, Lincecum struck out Chris Nelson for the second out. With the pitcher Nicasio up next, it looked as if Lincecum would get out of the jam having allowed just the one run (on zero hits). But Lincecum inexcusably walked Nicasio to load the bases. Dexter Fowler followed with a two-run double, and Josh Rutledge hit a two-run single to make it a five-run rally.
“You have to feel good after the team wins, especially coming back from the hole I put them in there in the second inning,” Lincecum said. “I feel good about that. But I’m going back to the chalkboard after every start and going into refining mode and trying to fix the errors. That second inning really was a doozy for me.”
Yes, it was.
There were several good things to talk about after Monday’s win over the Colorado Rockies — Hunter Pence‘s three-run homer, Buster Posey‘s first RBI of the season, Madison Bumgarner battling through a less-than-perfect outing to earn the win.
All good topics, but we are going to give it up to the bullpen.
After Bumgarner left with two out in the sixth, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo came in and retired 10 of the final 11 batters the Rockies sent to the plate, six of them by strikeout. The only batter to reach was Josh Rutledge, who doubled off Romo to lead off the ninth.
Rutledge was the first batter that Romo has allowed to reach base off him this season.
In fact, going back to last postseason, Romo had retired the last 24 batters he had faced — nine this regular season and the final 15 of the postseason (9 in the World Series and the final five of the NLCS Games 5, 6 and 7).
When protecting a lead, Giants relievers have an ERA of 0.87 with only two hits and no walks allowed in 10.1 innings. In all games, Giants relievers not named George Kontos have a combined ERA of 1.62.
- Sergio Romo 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks
- Jeremy Affeldt 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks
- Chad Gaudin 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks
- Santiago Casilla 2 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks
- Javier Lopez 1.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
- Jose Mijares 1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
- The Giants’ win Monday was their seventh in a row against the Rockies dating back to last September.
- Bumgarner wasn’t early as sharp Monday as he was last Tuesday in Los Angeles. But he muddled through to keep the Giants in the lead. He gave up two runs on five hits and five walks over 5.2 innings. He struck out five.
- Buster Posey looked lost against Jorge De La Rosa, striking out twice and popping out. But against Chris Volstad in the eighth, he slapped a pitch into right field for an RBI single, his first RBI of the season.
- Pence’s three-run homer to left was this third of the season in just seven games. It took him 38 games last year to hit his third home run after being acquired by the Giants from the Phillies. It was his second at AT&T this season. He only hit two last season at AT&T as a member of the Giants over a span of two months.
The Giants went 3-3 last week, leaving them 3-3 for the season, fourth in the NL West, 2 games behind the Rockies and Padres.
- Monday: L 4-0, at Dodgers; LP: Kontos (0-1)
- Tuesday: W 3-0, at Dodgers; WP: Bumgarner (1-0)
- Wednesday: W 5-3, at Dodgers; WP: Lincecum (1-0); HR: Pence (1), Sandoval (1).
- Friday: W 1-0, Cardinals; WP: Zito (1-0)
- Saturday: L 6-3, Cardinals; LP: Vogelsong (0-1); HR: Pence (2), Sandoval (2).
- Sunday: L 14-3, Cardinals; LP: Cain (0-1).
Mixed results in week 1, due in part to inconsistent hitting. Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval got their hits, but others are trying to find their stroke. Giants were able to win three games because of solid pitching. The first four starters did not allow an earned run. That ended over the weekend, and the Giants dropped two to the Cardinals. But this week they face two teams that they had big-time success against in 2012.
ROCKIES (5-1) AT GIANTS
- Monday: Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa 0-0) at Giants (Madison Bumgarner 1-0), 7:15 p.m.
- Tuesday: Rockies (Juan Nicasio 1-0) at Giants (Tim Lincecum 1-0), 7:15 p.m.
- Wednesday: Rockies (Jeff Francis 1-0) at Giants (Barry Zito 1-0), 12:45 p.m.
The Giants went 14-4 against the Rockies in 2012. But the Rox are healthy and hitting in 2013 and have won five in a row since dropping a 5-4 decision to the Brewers in the season opener. … It’s the first time since 1995 that the Rockies have won their opening two series of a season. They beat the Brewers 2 of 3 in Milwaukee and swept the Padres at Coors Field … Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler have been hot … OF Michael Cuddyer is sidelined with a sore wrist. Eric Young Jr. will start for Cuddyer and bat leadoff on Monday. … De La Rosa gave up four earned runs on five hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings against the Brewers in his first start.
GIANTS AT CUBS (2-5)
- Thursday: Giants (Ryan Vogelsong 0-1) at Cubs (Carlos Villanueva 0-0), 11:20 a.m.
- Friday: Giants (Matt Cain 0-1) at Cubs (Jeff Samardzija 1-1), 11:20 a.m.
- Saturday: Giants (Bumgarner 1-0) at Cubs (Edwin Jackson 0-1), 10:05 a.m., FOX
- Sunday: Giants (Lincecum 1-0) at Cubs (Travis Wood 1-0), 11:20 a.m., WGN
The Giants won six of seven meetings with the Cubs in 2012. They swept the Cubs in four games in San Francisco in June and won two of three in Chicago in early September. … Like the Giants, the Cubs also have struggled with the bats. They scored 13 runs in their first six games. After one bad week, Carlos Marmol is out as the Cubs’ closer and replaced by Kyuji Fujikawa. Fujikawa was a closer in Japan for 12 season before signing with the Cubs in the offseason. … The Giants will meet former teammate Nate Schierholtz, who is playing right field for the Cubs and playing well. He’s hitting .316 with a home runs and four RBI in six games.
ROCKIES 6, GIANTS 5: BOX SCORE
GIANTS 9, ROCKIES 8: BOX SCORE
GIANTS 8, ROCKIES 3: BOX SCORE
NL West lead: 7 games
Magic number: 13
San Francisco Giants: 2012 NL Western Division champions.
Are we getting ahead of ourselves?
Maybe. But the Giants’ 8-3 win over the Rockies on Wednesday pushed their lead in the NL West to a season-high seven games. In fact, it’s the largest divisional lead since the Giants finished 15 games ahead of Arizona to end in the 2003 season.
It also means that the earliest the Giants can clinch the NL West in next Thursday, Sept. 20.
For their part the Giants are keeping their sights on the task ahead, which is winning games in Arizona this weekend.
Here are a string of quotes from the series in Colorado, where the Giants went 7-2 this season.
Tim Linecum on the Giants’ seven-game lead in the West:
“We’re in a good spot . We’re just focusing on ourselves and having a good time and winning.”
Manager Bruce Bochy on giving Pablo Sandoval a day off to clear his head. The Panda is hitting .232 since coming off the DL last month:
“Let’s get him back to being relaxed and having fun. It hasn’t been fun for him the last couple games.”
Angel Pagan, on meeting Willie Mays in the spring and tying his San Francisco Giants record (shared with Steve Finley) for triples in a season:
“Right away, he asked for the guy who came from New York. It wasn’t ‘Angel,’ it was ‘Hey, where’s the guy who came from New York?’ Right after that I introduced myself and we had a great chemistry. Now to tie his triples record is something I’ll always remember. It’s one of the best days of my career.”
Madison Bumgarner, on being the first Giants pitcher since 2007 to belt two home runs in the same season. Bumgarner had one of the bigger at-bats of the season when he smacked a three-run homer Tuesday to tie the game 4-4.
“My job is to go out there and pitch, not hit. Obviously I’m glad to do what it takes, but I wanted to pitch better.”
Brandon Belt on going 2 for 4 with a double, homer and four RBI on the same night MadBum homered. In May, Belt hit his first homer of the season on the same night Bumgarner homered.
“I just do not want to be outdone by Madison Bumgarner at the plate at all. I think he hit a three-run home run and I got four RBIs. So I beat him.”
Bochy on Aubrey Huff’s single on a ball whacked off the right-field wall. Huff has proven himself a quality pinch-hitter of late, even though he provided his teammates with some levity when he had to scramble back to the bag when he couldn’t leg out the double.
“He smoked that ball. He did a good job turning that double into a single.”
Ryan Vogelsong on his struggles over his past six starts.
“I’m costing us games right now and I’m not really happy about it. I feel today it was on the arm side. Last time, it was on the glove side. It’s like I fix one and the other goes haywire. I need to get back to the middle of the road here.”
While his ERA has gone up, his confidence has not dropped.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m a battler, guys. Look what I’ve been through. A couple bad starts in a span of six is not going to get me down. I’ve been through way too much in this game to let six not good starts keep me from where I want to get with this team.”
Hunter Pence has been looking to contribute since joining the Giants late last month.
He got one Saturday with an RBI double. He got an even bigger one Sunday.
Pence hammered a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth, sending the Giants to a 9-6 win over the Rockies.
“There’s definitely times that you’re down, but I understand that the next at-bat everything can change,” Pence said. “I try to think of it as ‘Let it go and go out there and try to do everything you can to win. Whether you’re getting hits or not, play defense, and you never know when you’re going to get another opportunity.’ ”
The opportunity Sunday came in the eighth inning.
Trailing 6-4, the Giants loaded the bases with no one out. But Marco Scutaro’s fly to left was not deep enough to advance any of the runners.
The Giants made it 6-5 on an infield single by Melky Cabrera. Then Buster Pence made Rockies’ closer Rafael Betancourt work before lofting a 3-2 pitch to left field for a sacrifice to tie the game.
But with two on and two out, the Rockies were looking to get out of the inning tied 6-6. Then Pence smacked an 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence for a 9-6 lead.
It was the first home run by a Giants player other than Buster Posey at AT&T Park since June 29.
And that called for a curtain call, even if it was a bit forced.
“Melky pushed me out there,” Pence said. “I didn’t even realize … it was pretty exciting. Those things don’t happen very often and is just kid of humbling.”
It’s hard to call a game this early in August as a must-win. But these are games the Giants need to win. When you’re playing a team like the Rockies, those are series they need to win.
It’s especially true with the NL-leading Washington Nationals coming to town on Monday.