It’s somewhat ironic that when the Giants return home on Friday they will honor play-by-play man Duane Kuiper with a bobblehead give-away commemorating Kuiper’s lone big-league home run.
The link is obvious. Kuiper played the first eight of his 12 big-league seasons with the Indians before finishing his career with four seasons in San Francisco.
On Aug. 27, 1977, Kuiper hit his only home run as an Indian. So with the Indians in town for an interleague series, it’s a good time for a bobblehead.
The ironic part is while the Giants honor a light-hitting infielder they come off a road trip on which their offense was fueled by the long ball.
The Giants belted six home runs in a 12-10 win over the Rockies on Wednesday. It was the first time in the Giants’ San Francisco era that they scored as many as 12 runs in a game with home runs accounting for all the scoring. The previous high was nine runs, last done in 1987.
Giants color man Mike Krukow said he thinks Wednesday’s outburst will be the day the Giants will look back on as the day that got the offense going.
We’re not so sure. The Giants scored 12 runs in their previous seven games, then matched that output on Wednesday.
When the Giants were struggling to score runs on the road trip, manager Bruce Bochy said his hitters looked like they were trying to hit 9-run homers each time they came to the plate.
But of the 21 runs the Giants scored on the road trip, 17 were scored on home runs. Here’s how the Giants scored their four other runs.
- Two-run single by Angel Pagan in the 2nd inning Sunday vs. San Diego.
- Run-scoring double play ball by Buster Posey in 3rd inning Tuesday vs. Colorado.
- Run scores on error by pitcher in 9th inning Tuesday vs. Colorado.
The Giants rank third in the National League in home runs with 27. But 21 of those have been hit on the road. The Giants hit as many home runs in one game Wednesday in Colorado than they’ve hit in nine games this season at AT&T Park.
It’s a small sample size, but the Giants are 3-1 at home when they hit a home run — 2-3 when they don’t.
The Giants can’t depend on the long ball if they hope to win at AT&T. The Giants lead the NL is walks with 80, but they are 12th in the league in hitting (.234). But they have hit better at home (.243 to .227).
WP: Yusmeiro Petit (1-0)
Sorry about the mid-afternoon blog post on Tuesday’s game. But it was a late night.
The night might have ended sooner — and with a much less happy result for the Giants — if not for the heroic efforts of one person in AT&T Park.
And he wasn’t wearing the No. 42. And every player Tuesday was wearing the No. 42.
No, instead it was the fan down the left-field line, who held back at least one person in the stands to prevent someone from possible interfering with Brandon Belt’s game-tying double in the ninth inning.
He was making the rounds as “Stand-Back Man” on Twitter. He could also be called the Anti-Bartman.
Here’s the situation: with one out and Angel Pagan on first base, Belt slaps a ball down the left-field line. The ball kicked off the wall along the stands. One fan held back another to keep from going after the ball in play. Pagan raced around the bases and scored the tying run of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.
Had a fan touched the ball in play, it would have been ruled a ground-rule double and Pagan would have been forced to return to third base.
Considering that Pablo Sandoval would strike out, Buster Posey would walk and Hunter Pence would fly out, it’s very likely that had a fan interfered with the ball, the Giants would have lost while leaving the bases loaded.
Well played, sir, well played.
Considering the Giants’ issues with the bases loaded, maybe the Dodgers should have walked Hector Sanchez and Angel Pagan to load the bases in the 12th.
The Giants loaded the bases in the fourth, but Michael Morse struck out and Brandon Crawford grounded out.
They loaded the bases in the fifth, but Posey flied to center.
They loaded the bases in the 10th, but Pagan popped out and Belt flied to left.
In the 12th, Crawford singled, went to second on a fielder’s choice and to third on a wild pitch.
Sanchez delivered a single off the glove of second baseman Justin Turner for the win.
BENCH TO THE RESCUE
Before Gregor Blanco’s triple on Sunday (when he was thrown out at the plate), the Giants’ bench of Blanco, Joaquin Arias, Ehire Adrianza, Juan Perez and Sanchez were 5 for 66 (.076).
Starting with Blanco’s triple, those five players have gone 4 for 7 with two walks.
That’s an encouraging sign.
Tuesday’s game was the Giants’ fifth consecutive one-run game. Three of those games went extra innings.
It was also the Giants’ second consecutive walk-off win.
If the Giants are going to continue to play tight games like that they are going to need two things: Solid production out of the bullpen and the bench.
They’ve received the production from the pen. They need more out of the bench.
Ryan Vogelsong faces Paul Maholm in Game 2 of the series at 7:15 p.m. The Giants pounced on Maholm in his first start of the season. Vogelsong had better results in his most recent start after a sloppy debut in L.A.
- 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 San Francisco Giants were hoping to escape Arizona without having to put anyone on the disabled list.
That hope ended Tuesday when Marco Scutaro revealed he would open the season on the DL after a trip to the doctor didn’t help resolved his lingering back issue.
Then on Wednesday, as the rest of the team headed north for the Bay Bridge Series, Jeremy Affeldt was placed on the DL with a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Affeldt felt discomfort in his knee last Saturday when he gave up four runs against the White Sox.
Bochy seemed frustrated by his left-handed reliever.
“He didn’t have his brace on,” Bochy said.
It’s the brace that Affeldt has been wearing — or supposed to be wearing — ever since hurting his knee way back in May 2012. You’ll recall that’s when Affeldt hurt his knee when his then-four-year-old son jumped into his arms after Affeldt arrived home from a game.
That leaves three pitchers to compete for two spots left in the bullpen, as Yusmeiro Petit and David Huff appear locks as long relievers.
Jean Machi is on the 40-man roster and is out of options, but he has struggled this spring. Non-roster invitees Derek Law and Juan Gutierrez have impressed this spring. But to put them on the opening day roster would require opening a spot on the 40-man roster.
The Giants have one spot open currently, but that is expected to be filled by another non-roster invitee, infielder Brandon Hicks. Hicks is expected to make the team as infield help with Scutaro opening the season on the shelf.
Three other pitchers — Dan Runzler, Heath Hembree and Erik Cordier — will make the trip north with the team this weekend, but Bochy does not view them as candidates to make the opening-day roster.
So the Giants head north, having avoided major injuries like the Tommy John surgeries facing the likes of the Braves’ Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy or the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin. Even Clayton Kershaw had an MRI on his back and will miss his start Sunday.
So by comparison, the Giants are getting off light.
They hope to have Affeldt back by the middle of April. Scutaro’s return date is far less certain. Buster Posey sat out Wednesday with a tight hamstring, and Pablo Sandoval has a sore hand that will sideline him for some of this weekend’s games.
Otherwise, the Giants are marching ahead toward the 2014 season.
One of the biggest questions for the Giants heading into the postseason was answered Saturday: Hunter Pence will remain a Giant.
There were two schools of thought regarding Pence’s future in San Francisco.
The first says it would be great to re-sign Pence … if the price was right.
The other school of thought was that the Giants had to re-sign Pence. They HAD to. They could not go into the offseason trying to replace their left fielder AND their right fielder.
The money really didn’t matter. The market would determine the money. Considering the options, the Giants had to re-sign Pence.
Ray Woodson on KNBR Friday night, I thought, correctly stated when he said the discussion would need to start at four years, $60 million.
So when the first reports said the deal the Giants and Pence agreed to was five years, I thought “OK, I guess it took five years to get the deal done now.”
Then the number came in: $90 million. Five years, $90 million. $18 million a year.
Wow. Just wow.
If you had asked me to project where Pence’s number would come in, I would not have come anywhere near five years, $90 million.
During his press conference Friday, Giants general manager Brian Sabaen must have used the word “budget” a dozen times.
He must have been talking about the budget AFTER giving Pence $90 million.
So the good news is Pence will return in 2014. That leaves one question mark in the starting lineup: left field.
But how much money is in the coffers to spend on a quality improvement for a left-fielder?
One possible solution is recent Cuba defector Jose Abreu. Abreu, 26, is a power-hitting, right-handed first baseman who will soon hit the international free-agent market.
The Giants are reportedly to be most interested in Abreu, among teams that include the Red Sox, Pirates, Orioles and maybe even the Mets.
Of course signing a first basemen means Brandon Belt would have to move to left field. It’s a move that Belt says his willing to make and he’s shown ability in brief stints in the outfield.
Another question the Pence deal brings is how does it impact the efforts to re-sign Tim Lincecum.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Giants reported the Giants, having secured Pence, have moved their efforts to agreeing to a new deal with Lincecum.
If a deal can’t be reached before the start of the offseason, the Giants are expected to make a qualifying offer to Lincecum for one year, around $14 million, putting them in position for a compensatory first-round pick if he signs elsewhere.
It also decreases the chances of the Giants signing a free agent who has been offered a qualifying offer, which would cost the Giants’ first-round pick next June. The Giants likely will pick anywhere from No. 11 to 14.
If true, you can scratch Shin-Soo Choo, Jacob Ellsbury, Nelson Cruz and maybe even Ervin Santana from your wish list.