Six positive points to be drawn out of dark road trip of San Francisco Giants

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)

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)

Ugh. That was a miserable roadtrip.

The Giants went 1-7 on their return to play from the All-Star break.

There was plenty of blame to go around, even though Brandon Belt was falling on the sword for his teammates.

Belt went 2 for 33 with 17 strikeouts – 17 STRIKEOUTS – during the road trip. After Sunday’s game, Belt said: “I can attribute a lot of these losses we had … to me. I’ve had plenty of chances to drive in runs and didn’t get the job done.”

While that’s true, we can look elsewhere. Brandon Crawford, the team’s RBI leader, didn’t drive in a run on the road trip. As a team, the Giants hit .125 in 72 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

And, of course, the Giants were hoping to get players back from the DL on the road trip. And the only player they actually got back was Matt Cain, and that didn’t go well.

But rather than curse the darkness, I’d rather cast some light in a dark time.

So here are six bright spots we can draw from a dark road trip.

THE GIANTS ARE STILL THREE GAMES UP: Despite a 1-7 road trip, the Giants still lead the Dodgers by three games. And it’s better to be up three than down three. But it’s been almost three weeks since the Giants padded their lead with a win – that came on July 6 when a win over the Rockies pushed their lead from 5 to 6 games. That needs to happen again.

CLAYTON KERSHAW: Kershaw has been out a month with a bad back. He looked like he was ready to return last week. But after his final rehab session, he complained off back pain again. Now he is out indefinitely and surgery may be necessary. At the very least, he’ll be out a little bit longer, and that’s good news for the Giants.

MAC WILLIAMSON: The rookie outfielder may be the only Giants hitter who saw his batting average go up during the road trip. At the All-Star break, Williamson was hitting .209. Williamson reached base in all eight games of the road trip. Williamson was 8 for 18 (.444) with three home runs and seven RBI. His OBP was .500. He’s now hitting .259 for the season. It’s pretty clear when Hunter Pence comes back, Williamson will remain as the coveted right-handed power bench Bruce Bochy so desires on his bench.

HOME FINALY HOME: The Giants are home, where they are 29-17 this season. They start a seven-game homestand with three vs. the Reds and then four vs. Nationals. The Giants have a current four-game win streak at home and have won five of their last six at home and 12 of their last 16.

THE BULLPEN: While the Giants went into the break with the bullpen being the prime area needing improvement. And while Aroldis Chapman ended up going to the Cubs, it’s worth noting the bullpen was actually pretty good on the trip. As a whole, the Giants bullpen was 1-2 with nine walks, 19 strikeouts and a 3.46 ERA over 26 innings on the roadtrip. But remove Albert Suarez’s outing in Boston, and the pen’s ERA drops to 1.96. Remove Santiago Casilla’s balk-off outing in San Diego, and it drops to 1.17. Here is how each reliever breaks down since the break.

breakit

HELP IS ON THE WAY: We’ve been saying this for a while, but help is on the way in the form of rehabbing players. It was hoped Joe Panik would be back last Friday. But then he didn’t feel well after playing Tuesday and Wednesday. Panik got cleared again on concussion protocol and is expected resume his rehab stint later this week. Hunter Pence is 5 for 11 with one home runs and two RBI in four rehab games with the Sacramento RiverCats. He’ll get a day off Monday and resume his rehab stint Tuesday. He could get called up this weekend, or when the Giants head out on the road next week. Ehire Adrianza is hitting .378 (14 for 37) with six home runs and 12 RBI in his rehab stint. Matt Duffy could start a rehab stint later this week. Reliever Cory Gearrin threw a bullpen session in Arizona last week, but has yet to start his rehab stint.

San Francisco Giants’ second-half schedule gets tougher, but help is on the way

Hunter Pence

San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence hits a grand slam home run off Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Pedro Baez in the eighth inning of their baseball game Thursday, April 7, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The San Francisco Giants come out of the All-Star Break with the best record in all of baseball at 57-33.

That’s the good news.

And the Giants have done that without Hunter Pence since June 2, without Kelby Tomlinson since June 10, without Matt Duffy since June 21, without Joe Panik since June 29, largely without Matt Cain since May 28 and they just recently got Sergio Romo back after being out since mid-April.

That’s also the good news.

But on the flip side, the Giants have built their fine record on the backs of weak teams.

They have not played a team with a winning record since June 12 — a stretch of 26 games. They have gone 19-7 in those games.

That stretch will continue after the All-Star Break with three games against the Padres — a team the Giants have gone 9-0 against this season.

Then things get a bit tougher.

After the series in San Diego, the Giants will finish the season with 39 games against teams currently above .500, three games against a team currently at .500 (Yankees) and 27 games against sub-.500 teams (the bulk of those coming within the division).

The most challenging stretch of games in the second have is a 19-game stretch beginning Aug. 5 all against teams with winning records. It starts with three in Washington, three in Miami, continues with a 10-game homestand against the Orioles, Pirates and Mets and concludes with a three-game set at Chavez Ravine.

The good news is that the Giants are getting healthy again.

JOE PANIK: Out with concussion symptoms, Panik resumed baseball activities and is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend. He could rejoin the Giants next week during their trip to Boston and New York.

KELBY TOMLINSON: The infielder is actually back. But the Giants sent him to Triple-A to find his stroke after being out a month with a thumb injury. Also he had options and the Giants didn’t want to expose their current infielders to waivers. Maintaining depth is important.

HUNTER PENCE: The outfielder is progressing well, and manager Bruce Bochy says he could be back when the Giants play their first post-All-Star Break home game on July 25.

MATT CAIN: Cain made a solid rehab start with Triple-A Sacramento last Friday. And he could make another before rejoining the Giants next week.

CORY GEARRIN: The righty went on the DL July 6 with shoulder fatigue. He should be ready to return when his 15 days are up, which could mean rejoining the Giants during the Yankees series.

MATT DUFFY: Duffy’s timetable is a little less certain. The third baseman experienced soreness in his Achilles, which Bochy termed a “mild setback.” He could resume running on Monday, which may give a better indication of when he might return. It would be surprising if he’s back before August.

The average final record of Giants when one of their pitchers starts All-Star Game: 94-68

Johnny Cueto

San Fransisco Giants’ Johnny Cueto pitches to a Milwaukee Brewers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Johnny Cueto has picked to star the All-Star Game on Tuesday, and that’s a good harbinger for the San Francisco Giants.

Cueto became the eighth different Giants pitcher to be selected to start the All-Star Game. Juan Marichal started two All-Star Games.

In the previous eight seasons when a Giants pitcher started on the mound in the midsummer classic, the Giants have finished the season with an average record of 94-68.

In three of the last four times a Giants pitcher started the All-Star Game, the Giants went on to win the NL West (1989, 2003, 2012).

The results from Giants starters in All-Star games have ranged from really, really good (from Carl Hubbell’s fanning of five Hall-of-Famers in 1934 to Marichal’s MVP performance in 1965) to not so hot (see Rick Reuschel 1989).

But overall, the results have been good. Giants pitchers starting the All-Star Game have given up six earned runs in 19 inning for a 2.84 ERA.

Here are the individual outings.

hubbell

1934 – Carl Hubbell

At Polo Grounds, New York

3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K

Hubbell struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in succession. The AL All-Stars rallied to win 9-7. The Giants were in first place in the National League by two games. The Giants finished 93-60, two games behind the Cardinals for the pennant.

juan

1965 – Juan Marichal

At Metropolitan Stadium, Minneapolis

3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB 0 K

Marichal left the game with 5-0 lead, helped in part to a leadoff home run from Willie Mays. Jim Maloney of the Reds gave the lead back, but the NL ended up winning 6-5. Marichal was selected the MVP. The Giants were 3.5 off the NL lead at the break. They finished 95-67 in second place.

1967 – Juan Marichal

At Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim

3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 BB

The game ended up going 15 innings before Tony Perez’s home run lift the NL to a 2-1 win. The Giants five games out of first place at the break. They would finish in second place at 91-71.

vida

1978 – Vida Blue

San Diego Stadium, San Diego

3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

Blue spotted the AL a 3-0 lead, but the NL tied it in the bottom of the third. A four-run bottom of the eighth gave the NL a 7-3 win. The Giants held a two-game lead in the NL West at the break. They would finish in third place at 89-73.

RickRush
1989 – Rick Reuschel

At Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim

1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

After being spotted a 2-0 lead, Reuschel gave up back-to-back home runs to Bo Jackson and Wade Boggs to open the game. Jackson’s home run landed in San Dimas. The AL won the game 5-3. The Giants were leading the NL West by two games at the break. They would finish 92-70, win the NL West and eventually the NL pennant.

Jingleheimer

2003 – Jason Schmidt

At U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago

2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K

The NL looked to be on its way to victory until the Dodgers’ Eric Gagne gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth. The AL won 7-6. Friggin Dodger. The Giants held a five-game lead at the break. They would finish 100-61 and win the NL West.

TimmyJim

2009 – Tim Lincecum

At Busch Stadium, St. Louis

2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Lincecum opened the game by giving up a single to Ichiro and hitting Derek Jeter. Two runs would score on an error and a groundout. The NL would tie the game, but the AL sealed the 4-3 win with one run in the eighth. The Giants were seven games out of first at the break. They would finish 88-74 and in third place in the NL West.

cainer

2012 – Matt Cain

Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City

2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 B, 1 K

The NL All-Stars spotted Cain a 5-0 lead, thanks in large part to a three-run triple by Pablo Sandoval. Melky Cabrera would win MVP honors in an 8-0 NL win. The Giants were a half-game out of first at the break. They would finish 94-68 to win the NL West and eventually the World Series.

On a crazy day, San Francisco Giants’ bullpen strangely restores order

Saturday’s 4-2 victory for the San Francisco Giants over the Arizona Diamondbacks was filled with oddities.

It started in the first inning when Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt hit a foul ball in the stands and a woman tried to catch it with her lunch tray.

As you can assume, it didn’t end well (see above video).

Then in the top of the fourth, Jake Peavy got Jake Lamb to check swing on a pitch. On the appeal, third-base umpire Quinn Wolcott ruled no swing. Peavy was barking at Wolcott when Buster Posey returned the throw to Peavy.

Peavy was not even looking at the throw, which hit the pitcher on the shoulder and dropped right into his glove (see above video).

Posey’s reaction to the play: “It doesn’t look real. It just doesn’t look real.”

He added: “I laughed. It was hard not to.”

Peavy said of Buster: “I’m still waiting for him to do something wrong. It’s been two years now.”

In the bottom of the fourth, Brandon Crawford led off the inning with a pop-up to Lamb, who lost the ball in the sun and it hit him in HIS shoulder and landed for a single (see above video).

Two outs later, Grant Green hit his first home run as a Giant, and the Giants took a 3-2 lead.

In the fifth, Javier Lopez left the dugout to head to the dugout. But he tripped on the top step and fell to the track. Lying on his back for a moment, he got up and acknowledged the crowd of 41,000 (see above video).

When asked if known-clutz Jeremy Affeldt contact Lopez, Lopez said: “Of course I did. He sent me the video. I told him at least I didn’t get hurt.”

Touche, Javy.

Also, in the third inning, Angel Pagan got hit in the head by the throw when he tried to steal second. He was OK.

Manager Bruce Bochy said of Pagan: “He said he’s done some boxing in his days, so he can take a shot.”

DIAMONDBACKS GIANTS BASEBALL

San Francisco Giants’ Angel Pagan is struck by the relay throw intended for Arizona Diamondbacks’ Nick Ahmed as Pagan steals second base during the third inning of baseball game on Saturday, July 9, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

Arizona right fielder Brandon Drury did a faceplant into the bullpen mound in the sixth (see above video).

But then the strangest thing of all happened.

The Giants bullpen saved the day.

Javier Lopez, George Kontos, Albert Suarez, Josh Osich, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla combined on 4 2/3 innings of shutout relief, allowing only one hit to seal the victory.

So go figure.

Regardless of outcome, supporting Brandon Belt’s #VoteBelt campaign on Twitter was fun

Brandon Belt, Joe Panik

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt, right, celebrates with Joe Panik (12) after hitting a two run home run off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

First, Brandon Belt took the lead in the Final Vote for the All-Star Game. Then Starling Marte took the lead. Then Belt took it back. Then Marte took it back.

Finally, at the last update, Belt was in the lead most of the day Friday. And we can thank an aggressive effort on Twitter by San Francisco Giants fan.

The final results have yet to be announced. But regardless of the final outcome, it sure was fun supporting Brandon Belt’s #VoteBelt campaign on Twitter.

Here are some of my favorite tweets of my effort to support the campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brandon Crawford won’t be added to All-Star roster to replace Matt Carpenter

craw

San Francisco Giants fans have been up in arms since Tuesday when shortstop Brandon Crawford was not added to the All-Star team.

Fans voted the underwhelming Addison Russell of the Cubs to be the starter at shortstop for the National League in next Tuesday’s All-Star Game in San Diego.

The players then voted the Dodgers’ Corey Seager in as a reserve at shortstop.

Now you could argue that Crawford was more deserving of that honor than Seager — and Giants fans have done that.

According to ESPN, Seager has the eighth-best WAR in the National League at 3.43; Crawford is 12th at 3.24. Seager holds a big edge offensively (3.49-1.38), while Crawford holds the edge with the glove (2.27-0.37).

According to Baseball Reference, Seager is 10th in the NL in WAR (3.4), with Crawford just behind (3.2). Seager is second in offensive WAR (3.5), while Crawford leads the NL in defensive WAR (2.3) and it’s not even close (next is 1.6).

And FanGraphs says Seager is No. 2 in the NL in WAR at 3.9, and Crawford is eighth (3.3), with similar offensive/defensive splits.

The problem I have with WAR as a stat is two-fold: 1) I have no freakin’ idea how it is computed; and 2) people can’t seem to agree on how it is computed because different sites come up with different computations on it.

Anyway, I believe both Seager and Crawford are deserving of All-Star selections. If Seager were the starter and Crawford the backup, I’m cool with that. If Crawford started and Seager backed up, that’s cool, too.

But the fans piggie-backed Russell to be a starter along with four other Cubs, so it is what it is.

Some Giants fans felt Crawford should have been on the ballot for the Final Five. But MLB didn’t want two teams on that ballot, so the honor went to Brandon Belt.

Then fans were hoping Crawford could make the team as a replacement. So when Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals left Wednesday’s game with an oblique strain, there was hope.

Then Carpenter was placed on the DL Thursday morning. More hope.

And …. and…. and……

MLB announced the Cardinals shortsotp Adelmys Diaz would replace Carpenter on the All-Star roster.

Now, Diaz is having a solid rookie season for St. Louis. But this isn’t about comparing Diaz’s credentials with those of Crawford.

This had more to do with Carpenter was the lone Cardinal representative on the All-Star team. So the Cardinals lobbied hard that another Cardinal replace him on the All-Star roster.

And MLB acquiesed to the Cardinals’ request.

So now it looks more and more likely that Crawford will spend the All-Star break resting at home.

And given the fact he will likely enter the break having played 700 innings at shortstop this season, maybe a break isn’t the worst thing in the world.

The Giants’ Buster Posey hit a home run Wednesday, and there was something familiar about it

AP16189144223430

Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants hit a big home run to left Wednesday in the Giants’ 5-1 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Here is what it looked like (click on link to watch video)

BustaHR

When you watch the video, take a look at Rockies catcher Tony Wolters.

His reaction to Posey’s deep drive to left reminded me of something very familiar.

But what was it?

Let me think…..

Oh yes. Here it is!

Our prediction on what the National League all-star team will look like

Buster Posey

San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey takes his catching gear off in the dugout prior a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday, July 2, 2016, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 6-5. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The 2016 National League all-star team will be unveiled tonight at 4 p.m. Pacific on ESPN.

So let’s have fun trying to piece together what the team will look like.

First, let’s talk about how the team is constructed.

FAN VOTE: The fans get to vote on the starting eight position players.

PLAYERS VOTE: The players vote on the eight position subs, five starting pitchers and three relievers. If the players’ top choice on a position player is also voted in by the fans, then the players’ No. 2 choice gets the spot.

MANAGER PICKS: Mets manager Terry Collins gets to add nine players to the roster — five pitchers and four position players. But Collins must ensure that every team is represented.

FINAL VOTE: Collins and the league offer up five players to be placed on a ballot from which the fans will vote in the 34th player on the roster.

REPLACEMENT: If a player is unable to participate, Collins gets the choice for replacements.

So everything here is dependent on what the fans do. In the latest vote update before balloting closing showed must spots pretty much secured. Buster Posey held the narrowest lead (over the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina) in the final vote announcement (about 100K votes) at catcher. The Cubs’ Ben Zobrist (2B) and Kris Bryant (3B) could also be overtaken (Nationals’ Daniel Murphy and Rockies’ Nolan Arenado).

But these selections are based on the notion that the final leaders in fan voting end up winning the vote.
FAN VOTE

1B Anthony Rizzo, Chi
2B Ben Zobrist, Chi
3B Kris Bryant, Chi
SS Addison Russell, Chi
C Buster Posey, SF
OF Dexter Fowler, Chi
OF Bryce Harper, Was
OF Yoenis Cepedes, NYM

PLAYERS CHOICES

1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arz
2B Daniel Murphy, Was
3B Nolan Arenado, Col
SS Brandon Crawford, SF
C Wilson Ramos, Was
OF Carlos Gonzalez, Col
OF Ryan Braun, Mil
OF Gregory Polanco, Pit

SP Clayton Kershaw, LAD
SP Madison Bumgarner, SF
SP Jake Arrieta, Chi
SP Nolan Syndergaard, NYM
SP Johnny Cueto, SF
RP Jesus Familia, NYM
RP Kenley Jansen, LAD
RP Mark Melancon, Pit

Provided the vote leaders don’t change, here are our projections for the players choices. Kerhawn (injured) and Bumgarner (pitching Sunday) are candidates to be replaced.

MANAGERS PICKS

Jose Fernandez, Mia
Stephen Strasburg, Was
Jon Lester, Chi
Jeanmar Gomez, Phi
Jacob DeGrom, NYM
Matt Carpenter, StL
Will Myers, SD
Freddie Freeman, Atl
Jay Bruce, Cin
Fernandez, Gomez, Carpenter, Myers, Freeman, Bruce would fulfill requirements for every team to be represented. DeGrom gets a spot because Mets manager Terry Collins is make the pick.

FINAL FIVE

C JT Realmuto, Mia
2B DJ MeMahieu, Col
OF Starlin Marte, Pit
OF Christian Yelich, Mi
3B Jake Lamb, Arz

San Francisco Giants activate Sergio Romo, which means Madison Bumgarner won’t start in the All-Star game

World Series Tigers Giants Baseball

San Francisco Giants’ Sergio Romo reacts after striking out Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera in the 10th inning of Game 4 of baseball’s World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. The Giants won the game 4-3 to win the World Series. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The San Francisco Giants activated reliever Sergio Romo for the 60-day disabled list prior to Monday’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

Romo had been sidelined since mid-April with a flexor strain in his elbow.

To create room on the 25-man active roster, pitcher Albert Suarez was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. To create room on the 40-man roster, reliever Mike Broadway was designated for assignment.

The decision to option Suarez confirms a report earlier that the Giants would use Thursday’s off day to skip Suarez’s spot in the rotation.

That means the Giants will go into the All-Star break by starting Jake Peavy (today), Madison Bumgarner (Tuesday), Johnny Cueto (Wednesday), Jeff Samardzija (Friday), Peavy (Saturday) and Bumgarner (Sunday).

That means Bumgarner won’t pitch in the All-Star game in San Diego, let alone start in it.

Broadway was the most likely candidate to be DFA’d. He was the oldest pitcher (29) on the 40-man roster who was pitching in the minors. Broadway was lights-out in Triple-A in 2015, but hadn’t really done much in the majors.

He was 0-2 with 6.75 ERA in 25 appearances in 2015-16. He was 0-3 with 3.94 ERA for Sacramento this season with five saves. There’s a good chance he’ll be claimed on waivers.

Other injury news

DENARD SPAN: The Giants also announced outfielder Denard Span got a shot to help with his sore neck, but they did not place him on the DL.

Chances are the Giants are hoping the shot helps in a day or two. If not, Kelby Tomlinson was moved from San Jose to Sacramenton on his rehab stint, and he could get activated in a couple days and Span could go on the DL retroactive to last Friday. He’d then be eligible to return the second day after the Giants return from the All-Star break.

JOE PANIK: The Giants announced Panik would not be activated from the 7-day concussion DL until after the All-Star break. This kept the Giants from releasing one of the infielders recently added to the 40-man (Grant Green and Ruben Tejada) to make room for Romo.

MATT CAIN: After pitching in an Arizona Rookie League game over the weekend, Cain is expected to pitch for Sacramento later this week. With off days on July 18 and July 21, the Giants don’t need a No. 5 starter until July 26, so they can take their time with Cain.

As San Francisco Giants bullpen falters again, Sergio Romo can’t return fast enough

AP16185830024412The San Francisco Giants won their major league-best 20th one-run victory of the season and their NL-best sixth extra inning victory.

They have played 30 one-run games this season, also a major league high.

But there is a factor in the Giants’ success in close games — and the amount of close games they have played — that should not be overlooked.

Sunday marked the 16th time this season the Giants bullpen has surrendered the lead — second-most in the majors to the Reds, who have 17.

Oh, and by the way, the Reds SUCK!!!!

In eight of the Giants’ 10 extra-inning games this season, the bullpen has coughed up the lead.

It was a second day in a row that Giants gave up the lead with a big home run in the eighth inning.

The eighth inning is normally Sergio Romo’s. But Romo has been on the DL since mid-April.

But manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday that Romo could be activated from the DL when the Giants return home to open a series against the Rockies on Monday.

A healthy Romo will lengthen a beleaguered bullpen and strengthen up an area of weakness for the stretch run of the season.

And given how many close games the Giants have played this season, that could be crucial.

Now as we mentioned before, activating Romo will require the Giants to create some room on the 40-man roster, as Romo would be coming off the 60-day DL.

With Ramiro Pena coming off the bench Sunday, that roster spot could very well be created by designating one of the Giants’ infielders for assignment, either Ruben Tejada or Grant Green.

We would expect the Giants to DFA Green, which means he’ll need to clear waivers before he can return to Triple-A Sacramento. That will put him into limbo for 10 days.

But with Joe Panik expected to return from his 7-day concussion DL soon that shouldn’t be an issue.

Regardless of who gets dumped from the 40-man, the Giants seriously need Romo back … SOON.

Activating Sergio Romo is not as easy as you might think

Sergio Romo

San Francisco Giants’ Sergio Romo celebrates the final out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Phoenix. The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 9-8. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There’s some good news in the injury front for the San Francisco Giants, which has been a bit of a rarity recently.

Reliever Sergio Romo appears very close to being ready to being activated from the disabled list.

Romo has been on the DL since mid-April with a flexor strain in his right elbow.

Romo pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Sacramento on Friday in the second of back-to-back appearances for the reliever. Romo had a 3.18 ERA with 19 strikeouts and one walk in 11.1 innings during his minor-league rehab stint which began in late May, then put on hold until mid-June.

Assuming Romo shows no ill effects from his back-to-back outings, he appears ready to be activated by the Giants, a nice boost to a beleaguered bullpen.

But there’s a catch.

When Romo experience his setback in late May, the Giants transferred him to the 60-day DL, temporarily removing him from the Giants’ 40-man roster.

When the Giants put Joe Panik on the seven-day concussion DL, they activated Ruben Tejada from Triple-A, adding him to the 40-man roster. Pitcher Chris Heston was moved to the 60-day DL to create room on the 40-man roster for Tejada.

Then a couple of days later, infielder Ramiro Pena suffers a sprained ankle in a collision with outfielder Mac Williamson, sidelining him for 5-7 days. So the Giants called up infielder Grant Green. To create room for Green on the 40-man roster, pitcher Jake Smith was designated for assignment.

Those moves have left the Giants with limited options when it comes to creating a spot on the 40-man for Romo if he is activated from the 60-day DL.

So here are the options.

Place Hunter Pence on the 60-day DL: When Pence went on the DL with a hamstring injury, he was expected to be out until August, so putting him on the 60-day DL would make him eligible to return Aug. 1. However, Pence is healing quickly, so the Giants want to leave the option open for him to return in July if possible.

DFA another minor leaguer: The minor league players on the the 40-man include pitchers Ty Blach, Ray Black, Clayton Blackburn, Mike Broadway, Kyle Crick and Joan Gregorio, Adalberto Mejia and Chris Stratton, and catcher Andrew Susac. Crick, a former top prospect, is the only player still in Double-A. Blach, Blackburn, Gregorio and Mejia have been starting at Triple-A Sacramento. Broadway and Stratton have had stints in the majors this season. There isn’t a player on this list who jumps out as a DFA candidate.

DFA Green or Tejada: Tejada is 0 for 7 with three walks in three games since joining the Giants. Green is 4 for 9 in two games. Tejada is better the glove man. If either is DFA’d, it’s likely both would clear waivers and could return to Sacramento. But before the Giants do that, they need to know that Pena or Panik is ready to return. But that won’t happen until Tuesday or Wednesday.

So Sergio’s return may have to wait until the Giants have some better answers elsewhere on the roster.

Designated hitter, schmesignated hitter: Madison Bumgarner to hit for himself vs. A’s

bumhitzzThis is an issue that comes up on Twitter every time the San Francisco Giants play in an American League park.

Why not just let Madison Bumgarner hit for himself instead of replacing him with a designated hitter?

I don’t think we ever thought it would go beyond Twitter banter. But today it did.

The Giants will become the first team to intentionally opt against using a designated hitter when playing in an American Park since 1976 when Bumgarner will bat for himself against the Oakland A’s on Thursday night.

Ever since the DH was first inacted by the American League in 1973, only four pitchers have hit for themselves instead of using a designated hitter: Fergie Jenkins of the Texas Rangers (1974), Ken Holtzman of the Oakland A’s (1975) and Ken Brett of the Chicago White Sox (twice in 1976). Andy Sonnanstine of the Tampa Bay Rays did it in 2009, but that was not by design but become of a lineup mixup.

Oddly enough, Sonnantine was one of only two pitcher to get a hit when hitting for the designated hitter when he went 1 for 3 in a 7-5 win over the Indians on May 17, 2009. Jenkins got that other hit.

So pitchers hitting in place of DHs are 2 for 13 (.154), which is probably why no one has done it on purpose in 30 years.

And then there’s the Giants.

“He’s a good hitter, he’s dangerous and we’re facing a lefty (in Oakland’s Dillon Overton),” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Bumgarner is only hitting .175 this season, after hitting .247 last year and .258 in 2014. But he does have two home runs, five RBI and five walks.

But this decision has as much to do with the sorry state of affairs with the Giants lineup as anything.

Hunter Pence on the DL. Matt Duffy on the DL. Kelby Tommlinson on the DL. Joe Panik on the 7-day concussion DL. To make matters worse, Ramiro Pena left last night’s game after colliding with outfielder Mac Williamson.

So the options are limited.

No lineup has been announced, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it look something like this.

CF Denard Span
LF Angel Pagan
1B Brandon Belt
C Buster Posey
SS Brandon Crawford
RF Mac Williamson
3B Conor Gillaspie
P Madison Bumgarner
2B Ruben Tejada

So Bochy’s decision boiled down to this: Do you want Trevor Brown in the DH spot (as Buster usually catches MadBum)? Or do you want MadBum hitting?

  • Trevor Brown has a slash line of .258/.301/.412; Bumgarner .175/.261/.350
  • Trevor Brown hits a home run once every 24 plate appearances this season; Bumgarner once every 20.
  • Bumgarner strikes out 42.5 percent of the time; Brown 21.6 percent of the time.
  • Bumgarner walks 12.5 percent of the time; Brown 5.2 percent.

But because the Giants have been going with the lean four-player bench, having Brown DH would leave them with two healthy players on the bench: Gregor Blanco and Jarrett Parker.

Given that the Giants are in a three-game skid with two games of paltry offense, Bochy is looking for anything to provide a spark.

That’s why MadBum hits.

San Francisco Giants’ stretch of easy games just got a little easier

Madison Bumgarner

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday April 11, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

When Hunter Pence went back on the disabled list on June 2 — and expected to miss two months — the question was raised.

How would the San Francisco Giants survive without Hunter Pence?

The answer so far has been: Not so bad.

The Giants are 11-4 since June 2, thanks largely to their current eight-game winning streak.

The Giants are 27-8 in their last 35 games, the best 35-game mark for any San Francisco Giants team, best for the franchise since 1954.

They now have two eight-game winning streaks, which bookend that 27-8 stretch. They are 16-6 without Hunter Pence in the starting lineup for that 35-game stretch.

So how are the Giants pulling this off?

Two things: Excellent starting pitching and a weak schedule.

After the Giants took two of three from the Dodgers last week, they embarked on a 25-game stretch in which they would play 21 games against teams with sub-.500 records.

The only games against teams with winning records were the upcoming four against the Pirates.

That’s because when the Giants started on the 25-game stretch, the Pirates were hovering just above .500.

But now the Pirates have lost five straight and 10 of their last 11, and their record sits at 33-36 as the Giants arrive in town.

That makes 25 of 25 games against teams with losing records.

And the Giants are set up nicely heading into Pittsburgh with Madison Bumgarner (8-2), Johnny Cueto (10-1) and Jeff Samardzija (8-4) slated to start the first three games, while the Pirates counter with Jeff Locke (5-5), the celebrated TBA and Francisco Liriano (4-7). The Pirates’ ace Gerrit Cole is on the disabled list (So no shots of Cole facing his brother-in-law Brandon Crawford. Sorry).

Monday’s starter Locke has allowed 18 earned runs over his last two starts. Bumgarner has allowed 20 earned runs ALL SEASON.

This 25-game stretch (with games against the likes of the Brewers, Rays, Bucs, Phillies, A’s, Snakes, Rox and Padres) for the Giants would take them through July 17.

The Giants hope to have Pence back two weeks later.

Ichiro Suzuki vs. Pete Rose: Who is the REAL all-time hits leader?

Ichiro Suzuki

Miami Marlins’ Ichiro Suzuki takes batting practice prior to a baseball game against the San Diego Padres Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

There are a lot of headlines around baseball today that go something like this.

“Ichiro Suzuki all-time hits leader”

That statement can be made on the presumption of combining Ichiro’s 2979 hits in the major leagues and adding the 1,278 hits he collected in nine seasons in Japan’s Pacific League.

And as you may expect, that idea doesn’t warm the heart of one Pete Rose.

“I’m not trying to take anything away from Ichiro,” Rose said. “He’s had a Hall of Fame career. But the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high school hits.”

When it comes down to deciding who is the hits king of baseball, perhaps it’s not best to try to compare Ichiro to Pete Rose. Maybe it’s better to try to compare Rose to Ichiro.

If Ichiro collects another 21 hits and reaches 3,000, he would become only member of the 30-man 3,000-hit club who made his major league debut in his age 27 season.

In fact, no current member of the 3,000-hit club ever made his debut after his age 24 season (Cap Anson and Wade Boggs).

So what if you compared the members of the 3,000-hit club on how many hits they collected after the age-26 season.

Obviously, Ichiro has 2,979 hits using that metric. But he would not be the all-time MLB hit leader by that measure.

That title belongs to … Pete Rose with 3,357. Ichiro would be second. The next on the list is Honus Wagner with 2,766.

Now Rose topped the list because he played into his 45 season. If you also pulled out the hits he collected after his age-42 season (Ichiro is in his age-42 season), Rose still leads with 3,091. And that means Ichiro would need to collect another 112 hits by the rest of the season to catch Rose by that measurement, giving him 156 for the season. He is currently on a pace to finish the with 129.

So, Pete Rose still reigns as the all-time hits leader.

But the accomplishments of Ichiro Suzuki should not be understated.

How many San Francisco Giants does it take to equal one Barry Bonds? 19

San Francisco Giants' Denard Span, right, celebrates after hitting a home run off Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, June 13, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

San Francisco Giants’ Denard Span, right, celebrates after hitting a home run off Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, June 13, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

History was made Monday night at AT&T Park.

The Giants’ Denard Span hit the first leadoff Splash Hit by a San Francisco Giant in the 17-year history of AT&T Park when he opened the bottom of the first Monday by putting a ball into McCovey Cove. The Giants went on to win 11-5, improving the franchise’s record to 48-20 in games they hit a Splash Hits, including the last eight.

You can watch it here.

After going 112 games between Splash Hits – the longest such drought in stadium history – it only took only four games for the Giants to get another.

Brandon Belt his Splash Hit No. 69 on Wednesday. Span hit No. 70 on Monday.

In doing so, Span became the 20th Giant to record a Splash Hit.

It also meant the number of Splash Hits by Barry Bonds matched the number by players other than Bonds: 35 each.

So in other words, it takes 19 Giants to equal one Barry Bonds. Here is how it breaks down.

Barry Bonds 35

Everyone else 35

  • Pablo Sandoval 7
  • Brandon Belt 5
  • Brandon Crawford 2
  • Aubrey Huff 2
  • Andres Torres 2
  • Ryan Klesko 2
  • Michael Tucker 2
  • Felipe Crespo 2
  • JT Snow 1
  • Jose Cruz Jr. 1
  • A.J. Pierzynski 1
  • Randy Winn 1
  • Fred Lewis 1
  • John Bowker 1
  • Nate Schierholtz 1
  • Carlos Beltran 1
  • Tyler Colvin 1
  • Travis Ishikawa 1
  • Denard Span 1

Is it too much to ask for San Francisco Giants fans to enjoy a nice relaxing lopsided win?

Brandon Belt, Joe Panik

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt, right, celebrates with Joe Panik (12) after hitting a two run home run off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

San Francisco Giants fans can’t complain (but that doesn’t stop them). It’s been a good season so far for the Giants.

Entering Monday’s game against the Brewers, the Giants are 38-26 and hold a five-game lead over the Dodgers in the National League West.

But can I make one little suggestion?

Dear Giants, how about a nice, six-run victory every once in a while?

The Giants have supplied their fans with a lot of excitement in 2016. Maybe too much for our blood pressure.

Examples:

  • The Giants’ win over the Dodgers on Sunday night was their 15th one-run win of the season, tying the Phillies for the most in the majors.
  • It was the 22nd one-run game the Giants have been involved in this season, putting them fourth in the majors behind the Reds (24), Astros (23) and Padres (23).
  • Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Giants’ fifth extra-inning win of the season, second-most in the majors behind the Astros (6).
  • Saturday’s win was also the Giants’ sixth walk-off win of the season, most in the majors this season.
  • In fact, the Giants have won just three of their last seven games – all three wins were by one-run, including two 2-1 victories.

So, either you can say the Giants are clutch or fortuitous.

Their +3 record against their pythagorean record might indicate that latter.

But there could be good news ahead.

Starting with Monday’s game against the Brewers, the Giants will play 21 of their 25 games against teams currently with a losing record.

The Giants are 24-13 against teams with a losing record this season. Of course, if you removed the Padres from that, the Giants are just 15-13.

So there’s a chance for the Giants to actually pad their lead in the NL West, while they wait for injured players like Hunter Pence and Sergio Romo to return.

How will San Francisco Giants’ top pick Bryan Reynolds fare? Let’s take a look at history

BRey

The Commodores play Virginia in Game 2 of a best-of-three series to determine the winner of the College World Series. Photo by Joe Howell.

  • For the first time in more than a decade, the San Francisco Giants didn’t have a top-30 pick in the first-year player draft.So the Giants were pleasantly surprised to see Vanderbilt outfielder Bryan Reynolds still on the board when they made the 59th pick in the 2016 draft.

    “We were very happy he was available for us in the second round, and I must say we wer surprised he was getting to us,” Giants scouting director John Barr told the San Jose Mercury News. “We felt he was a guy more than likely would be gone before we could select.”

    The Giants had Reynolds, a switch-hitting center fielder, rated as a first-round player. But they forfeited their first-round pick when they signed Jeff Samardzija as a free agent last winter.

    A three-year starter at Vanderbilt, Reynolds hit .346 in the Cape Cod League, and the Giants see him as a top-of-the-lineup player.

    The scouting community rated Reynolds as a safe pick with somewhat low ceiling, much like the way Joe Panik was rated when the Giants were said to “reach” to pick him in the first round in 2011.

    But the Giants actually have a decent track record in the draft in recent years. Every first-player-drafted by San Francisco Giants from 2006-2012 made it to the majors, even Gary Brown.

    So how might Reynolds fare? Well, let’s take a look at how players take in the top-60 picks by the Giants have fared in the last 10 years.

    Certainly, the Giants have struck gold in the draft, but those have largely been top-10 picks: Tim Lincecum (No. 10, 2006), Madison Bumgarner (No. 10, 2007) and Buster Posey (No. 5, 2008). I’d also rate Joe Panik (No. 29, 2011) is a solid find.

    Several other players taken in the top-60 in recent years have used to acquire key players in trades. Charlie Culberson (No. 51, 2007) was traded for Marco Scutaro in 2012, Tim Alderson (No. 22, 2007) was dealt for Freddy Sanchez in 2009, Zach Wheeler (No. 6, 2009) was traded for Carlos Beltran in 2011 and Tommy Joseph (No. 55, 2009) was part of the Hunter Pence deal in 2012.

    But, of course, there have been players who made marginal or no big-league contributions to the Giants: Emmanuel Burris (No. 33, 2006), Wendell Fairley (No. 29, 2007), Nick Noonan (No. 32, 2007), Jackson Williams (No. 43, 2007), Conor Gillaspie (No. 37, 2008) and Gary Brown (No. 24, 2010).

    The jury is still out on players drafted since 2011.

 

  • RHP Kyle Crick (No. 49, 2011) was a top-100 prospect in 2013-15. But his inability to harness his control has not allowed him to rise above Double-A. He’s currently 1-4 with 4.91 ERA at Double-A Richmond.
  • RHP Chris Stratton (No. 20, 2012) made his big-league debut this season for the Giants. He has thrown two scoreless innings out of the bullpen and currently remains in the bullpen, although he seems like Bruce Bochy’s last option there.
  • SS Christian Arroyo (No. 25, 2013) was drafted right out of high school and he’s produced all along the line in the minors. He’s currently the No. 62 prospect by Baseball America. He’s hitting .288 for Double-A Richmond, similar to what Matt Duffy hit when he got called up two years ago. Don’t look for that with Arroyo, as he’s only 21.
  • RHP Tyler Beede (No. 14, 2014) was drafted out of Vanderbilt two years ago. After a bumpy start this season at Double-A Richmond, he currently 4-3 with 3.05 ERA. But he has produced quality starts in his last five outings. Since the start of May, his ERA is 2.25.
  • C Aramis Garcia (No. 52, 2014) has been on a slow track since being drafted out of Florida International University. But he’s having his best offensive season of his minor league career. He’s hitting .298 with .359 OBP with one home run and 14 RBI in 84 at-bats for Long-A San Jose.
  • RHP Phil Bickford, No. 18, 2015) is at Low-A Augusta, where he is 2-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 10 starts. He has 62 strikeouts to 14 walks in 53 innings. And he’s only 20 years old.
  • 1B Chris Shaw (No. 31, 2015) is turning heads in down at Class A San Jose, where he has 13 home runs, 46 RBI, batting .294 with a .363 OBP in 55 games. He hit 12 home runs in 46 games in Shortseason-A Salem-Keizer last season.

Brandon Belt snaps Splash Hit drought, so we start blogging again.

Brandon Belt

Brandon Belt

I feel like Gandhi with a big cheeseburger.

Wait. He was a Hindu. A nice bowl of chutney.

After two months of a self-imposed hiatus on blogging, I’m back at after Brandon Belt ended the longest drought of Splash Hits in the 16-year history of AT&T Park.

I mean, after all, this blog is called MoreSplashHits.

When Belt hit a David Price pitch into McCovey Cove in the fourth inning on Wednesday, it broke a 112-game drought without a Splash Hit.

It was Splash Hit No. 69. Belt also hit Splash Hit No. 68, but that was on Sept. 25, 2014.

The 112-game drought was the second-longest drought between two non-Barry Bonds Splash Hits. That was 146 games between 2001 and 2003.

It also means that there are almost as many Barry Bonds Splash Hits (35) as non-Barry Bonds Splash Hits (34).

There was some symmetry with this home run. For example:

It was Belt’s fifth Splash Hit, putting him third on this list of players with the most Splash Hits. Next on the list is Pablo Sandoval, who had seven. Sandoval now plays for the Red Sox, the team against whom Belt homered on Wednesday.

The last Splash Hit by someone other than Belt was by Travis Ishikawa on Sept. 12, 2014.

Ishikawa, who was released by the White Sox on May 24, signed a minor league deal with the Giants on Wednesday. He’ll head to Triple-A Sacramento.

Belt’s home run Wednesday tied the game at 1-1. The Giants went on to win 2-1 on Mac Williamson’s first career home run, which went over the cars on the left-field wall.

Best possible tribute for the return of Barry Bonds to AT&T: A Splash Hit

MVPBonds

Barry Bonds is returning to AT&T Park in uniform for the first time since playing the final game of his major league career on Sept. 26, 1997.

By the way, he went 0 for 3 in a loss to the Padres that day.

But Friday he returns in a different uniform, that of the Miami Marlins. He took a job as one of the Marlins’ hitting coaches, and the Marlins come to town with the Giants riding a five-game losing streak.

And what would be a better tribute to the all-time home run leader — yeah, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, one thing is unequivocal: Barry Bonds hit more home runs than any other player in Major League history — than for a member of the San Francisco Giants to hit a ball into McCovey Cove.

There have been 68 Splash Hits since the Giants opened their bayside ballpark in 2000 — 35 of those were supplied by Barry Bonds.

But it has been 92 games since the last Splash Hit.

The 2015 season was the first season in which the Giants went Splash Hit-less.

The 92-game Splashless streak is the longest in stadium history for the Giants.

But the current streak is just the fourth-longest streak between two Splash Hits not hit by Barry Bonds.

Here’s the list

  • 146 — between Felipe Crespo’s Splash Hit on May 28, 2001 and J.T. Snow’s Splash Hit on June 5, 2003.
  • 109 — between Randy Winn’s Splash Hit on Sept. 14, 2005 and Ryan Klesko’s Splash Hit on May 21, 2007
  • 105 — between the opening of the stadium on April 11, 2000 and Felipe Crespo’s Splash Hit on May 28, 2001.
  • 92 — between Brandon Belt’s Splash Hit on Sept. 25, 2014 and now.

Barry Bonds’ final Splash Hits came on Aug. 8, 2007. That was career home run No. 757, and it came one day after he hit his record-breaking 756th home run.

There have been 23 Splash Hits since then, six by current Giants — four from Belt and two from Brandon Crawford.

There could be no better tribute for Barry’s return to AT&T than to end the drought and have someone, anyone, deliver Splash Hit No. 69.

For Barry.

An open letter of thanks from a Giants fan to the Boston Red Sox for signing Pablo Sandoval

Boston Red Sox' Pablo Sandoval, left, and David Ortiz talk before the Red Sox plays the Cleveland Indians in a baseball game, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Boston Red Sox’ Pablo Sandoval, left, and David Ortiz talk before the Red Sox plays the Cleveland Indians in a baseball game, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Dear Boston Red Sox,

 

I know times might be a little bit tough right now in Beantown, so I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that you are appreciated.

So, from a four-decade-long San Francisco Giants fan, I would just like to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to you, on behalf of all Giants fans, for signing Pablo Sandoval away from the Giants in November 2015.

Sandoval, aka Kung Fu Panda, was a fan favorite in San Francisco for seven seasons. Panda Hats were everywhere. He was a two-time all-star, the 2012 World Series MVP, he joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to hit three homers in a World Series game, he was one of only two position players to play on all three of the Giants world championship teams and he caught the final out of the 2014 World Series.

But through all those good times, there were issues with Sandoval. The Giants were well aware about how Sandoval’s weight would fluctuate more than Kirstie Alley. Truly, Sandoval could have landed a spokesman gig for Jenny Craig, if anyone could understand what the fudge he was saying (OK, given the context of this letter, we understand that the use of the word “fudge” was probably insensitive. I apologize.)

Sandoval’s weight struggle would often correlate to becoming a defensive liability and prolonged slumps at the plate. It was evident during the 2010 World Series run when Sandoval was relegated to the bench.

So Sandoval spent that offseason on an exercise regimen that produced a sleeker and more slender Panda for the 2011 season.

But by the end of that season, the plumper Panda began to return. While his agents and the Giants were working on a new contract that would cover his arbitration years, Sandoval saw his weight jump 21 pounds in 21 days during the holidays in his native Venezuela.

Knowing that the Giants would have eyes on him, Sandoval went back to his trainer in Arizona to embark on a crash course in fitness, working out seven days a week, often three times a day.

The result of that offseason was a three-year, $17 million contract. Sandoval was an All-Star in 2012 and World Series MVP.

But video emerged in the offseason after the 2012 season showing Sandoval in the Venezuela World Series, as big as ever. After manager Bruce Bochy threatened to sit him the following spring training until he got in shape, Sandoval said he needed to get his weight under control.

By August 2013, Sandoval revealded that he had lost 22 points in six weeks after hiring his brother to be his personal chef. “Everything healthy,” Sandoval said at the time. His brother “goes everywhere with me.”

Fast-forward to spring training 2014 when the Giants and Sandoval were working on a contract extension that would keep him in a Giants uniform for years to come. Sandoval’s agent wanted a deal similar to the one the Giants gave Hunter Pence the previous fall.The Giants were so sure.

Then Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vazquez, said:

“The weight issues he had before, you’ll never see that again. He will have his trainer with him until he retires.”

That’s like an addict, while leaving rehab, saying that his dependency issues are a thing of the past. In fact, that’s exactly what Sandoval’s former trainer, Eric Banning, told the Boston Herald earlier this week.

On Sandoval’s eating issues, Banning said: “He needs to be smart enough to say there’s a problem. It’s like the alcoholic that won’t admit he’s an alcoholic. Well, you can’t address that you’re an alcoholic if you don’t ever admit there’s a problem.”

Banning went even further, adding: ““He’s proven to me and shown consistently that he’s got to have somebody like me holding his hand doing that (monitoring his eating). And it’s not an exercise thing, it’s an eating thing.”

Banning worked with Sandoval during the winters of 2011 and 2012. But Banning hasn’t been in contact with the Panda since he got that three-year deal from the Giants prior to the 2012 season.

That should have been a red flag on a major concern the Giants had: What would Sandoval do about his weight after being given a long-term deal?

Despite that, the Giants were in the mix to re-sign Sandoval after the 2014 season, along with the Red Sox and Padres. They matched the Red Sox offer of six years, $95 million and reportedly showed a willingness to go to $100 million.

But Sandoval turned them down and took the Red Sox offer, saying he wanted a “new challenge.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Red Sox.

The Giants left Sandoval go. That opened the door for Matt Duffy, who was the runner-up for the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year award.

With the draft pick they got from Sandoval signing with the Red Sox, the Giants took Chris Shaw, a left-handed hitting first baseman from Boston College. Shaw hit .287 with 12 home runs and 30 RBI in 46 games with short-season Class A Salem-Keizer last summer. He’s hitting .292 early this season with High-A San Jose.

Meanwhile, in Boston, Sandoval – after saying that he didn’t miss anyone back in San Francisco except Bruce Bochy and maybe Hunter Pence — labored through the 2015 season, hitting .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI – all career lows for Sandoval since becoming a full-time player in 2009, despite playing in the far more hitter friendly confines of Fenway Park. And Sandoval had become a defensive liability at third base.

Sandoval’s struggles continued into this spring, leading the Red Sox to have the Panda start the 2016 season as a bench player.

That led Sandoval’s new agent, Rick Thurman, to declare:  “That’s like leaving a Ferrari in a garage.”

Wait, Rick. Is Sandoval the Ferrari or the garage in that analogy?

Then last week there was the video of Sandoval swinging at a pitch and popping his belt.

//players.brightcove.net/3921507366001/73568996-99ce-4b17-abd9-39751fa59035_default/index.html?videoId=4839346150001

A couple of days later Sandoval developed a mysterious shoulder injury, and the Red Sox putting him on the DL without him even having an MRI. It’s almost like if Sandoval had complained of the sniffles, the Red Sox would have claimed he had pneumonia without taking his temperature.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Herald wrote: “Certainly, this new, mysterious shoulder ailment has set the team back as far as trying to deal him. It also raised a few eyebrows from Sox rivals, even in the procedural manner in which they placed him on the disabled list, and the league is reviewing that process.”

The Red Sox will send Sandoval to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on Monday. We have no doubt that Andrews will recommend Sandoval lose some weight.

The DL move has allowed the Red Sox to kick the Panda issue down the road, as the option of trading doesn’t seem in play, even as rumors involving the Padres continue to circulate. Cafardo said on AL executive doesn’t think Sandoval has any value.

The Red Sox still owe Sandoval $77 million. And while we know the Sox have deep pockets, deep enough to eat the rest of Sandoval’s contract (again, we’re sorry if the use of the word “eat” given the context of this letter is insensitive), we Giants fans are left with the relief that it’s issue the Giants don’t have to deal with.

And that’s all because of you, dear Red Sox, for stepping in during November of 2014 and saving us.

So, once again, thank you.

Sincerely

A San Francisco Giants fan since 1973

 

 

 

MLB Network’s Billy Ripken is 100 percent, absolutely spot-on with analysis of slide rule

Daniel Murphy, Nick Markakis

Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, left, avoids Atlanta Braves’ Nick Markakis, right, while turning a double play on a ground ball hit by Hector Olivera in the seventh inning of a baseball game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

There has been a lot of chatter by baseball analysts on the new slide rule at second base after the first week. A lot of noise from former players.

Harold Reynolds, Mark DeRosa, Preston Wilson, Eric Byrnes, Eric Karros, Frank Thomas, et al. And almost uniformly, former players don’t like the new slide rule, basically because it is not the style of baseball they were used to playing.

Well, no duh. It isn’t. There has been a rule change.

Finally, we got some analysis that is absolutely, 100 percent, complete accurate, spot-on from a very unexpected source … MLB Network’s Billy Ripken.

Ripken broke down the new slide rule with examples of its enforcement in the opening week of the season, and every point he makes is excellent.

Here’s is his breakdown:

In his breakdown, Ripken said:

MLB is being consistent with its interpretation of this rule, calling to the letter of the law.

YES! MLB learned this two years ago with the home plate collision rule. MLB tried to give players some latitude in the enforcement of the rule. The result was sometimes it was ruled one way, then the next day it would be called the other way. This caused a lot of confusion. By enforcing the rule as it is written causes no confusion, and players and teams will learn it faster.

Ripken says he was not on board with the rule at home plate a couple of seasons back. Then he says “But last year, I didn’t miss any blow-ups. No catcher go steam-rolled, and I didn’t miss it.”

YES! We’ve been saying this for years. In fact, we even blogged about it TWO YEARS AGO. Read it yourself.

On the Colby Rasmus play, which was not going to be a double play, Ripken says MLB needs to put the onus on the baserunner and the team. “Have some court awareness. If it’s not going to be a double play, slide into the second base.”

YES! That’s the one thing people upset about this call that people weren’t saying. They didn’t like it was a tough way to end the game. They didn’t like that the Brewers weren’t going to turn a double play. But no one was saying that then made Rasmus’ slide a dumb slide. The fault there was on Rasmus. And that’s what MLB is trying to teach players: There is no advantage in breaking this rule, so you’re better off following it. Rasmus would have been better off following the rule here.

He showed an example of Jose Bautista adjusting his slide from last week, when he was called for interference, to this week, when he successfully broke up a double play with a legal slide, by the new rule. Ripken said he liked how Bautista learned from one situation to another “whether he likes it or not, it is the rule.”

YES! We’ve said this, too. Players and teams must learn the rule and abide by it. Here’s another blog post.

If MLB keeps calling it the same way, within two weeks, we won’t be seeing this controversial plays because players will begin to adhere to the rule.

YES! Completely agree. Once players learn there is no advantage in breaking the rule, they won’t break the rule. And, guess what? You won’t miss it. The only time you will notice it is when players break the rule.

Ripken said he was never a supporter of the neighborhood play. “The base is there for a reason.”

YES! I have never been a fan of the neighborhood play. That’s because the neighborhood plays doesn’t — and more importantly HAS NEVER — resided in the rulebook. Neither has the idea of the a “legal slide” is one in which the runner can reach out and touch the base. Look it up. They aren’t there. In fact, the opposite is there. Here is the rulebook.

Rule 5.09 (a) Retiring a batter

The batter is out when:

(13) A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interferes with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play.

Well, that seems pretty clear. Why are we even having this discussion? Oh, there is a comment after the rule, which reads:

Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously, this is an umpire’s judgement play.

See, that’s where we get into trouble. The play has to not only be “deliberate” but also “unwarranted” and “unsportsmanlike.”

So the interpretation of this rule is born about of the rough and tumble days of the early 20th century when Ty Cobb would sharpen his spikes and gash at infielders. So baseball rules that Cobb’s actions are now unwarranted and unsportsmanlike. And now the interpretation is broadened to allow take-out slides as long as runner can slide and reach out and touch the base. This falls under the “umpire’s judgment” and a very loose interpretation of the three-foot wide baseline rule. But then you also need to protect the infielders, so the umpire’s judgment also included the neighborhood play. This wasn’t written into the rule, but adopted as practice by umpires under the “umpire’s judgment.” But what it actually did was move baseball further away from the original letter of the rule to protect players, when all you needed to do was enforce the rule as written.

And you do that by sticking with “deliberate” and removing “unwarranted” and “unsportsmanlike.”

The advent of replay allows us also to remove the umpire’s judgment. In an age when baserunners can be called off from coming off the bag for a fraction of a second, we can also take a look a plays at second base.

While safety is a big part of this new rule, you can’t underplay the impact that replay has made and a return to the true, original intent of the rulebook.

Last week, Giants fans were upset when second baseman Joe Panik was ruled to have come off the bag early. I responded that if first baseman Brandon Belt’s foot had come off first base before receiving the throw from Panik — and replays confirmed that — no one would have been upset. The same idea is at play at second base.

I also heard Eric Karros, sighting a comment by Mets manager Terry Collins, that he felt this new rule would result in infielders being hurt by “being comfortable around the bag.”

Having covering amateur baseball for 25 years, where the take-out slide is not legal — I can tell you this is utter hogwash. Like the home plate rule, in time, you won’t miss take-out slides, and this is just an attempt by a player lost in the past grasping at straws to try to make an argument against a change.

We will see far fewer injuries around second base under this year’s rule than we would under previous years’ rules.

And that’s the point.

So well done Billy Ripken. You are my new favorite baseball analyst.

Until you say something stupid.

After tough loss, here are projections sure to cheer up San Francisco Giants fans

Bruce Bochy

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy during a baseball game between the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers in San Francisco, Saturday, April 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Any loss is tough.

Any loss to the Dodgers is especially hard.

A loss to the Dodgers when it looked like the Giants had it won, well that’s almost unbearable.

But that’s what San Francisco Giants were faced with Saturday afternoon when the Dodgers rallied to beat the Giants 3-2 in 10 innings.

Things looked sticky when Santiago Casilla loaded the bases with one out and Adrian Gonzalez coming to bat while protecting a 2-1 lead in the ninth.

Casilla was looking for a strikeout or a pop-up. But what he really wanted was a double-play ball. And that’s exactly what he got when Gonzalez hit a grounder to second. But on a slick and rainy infield, second baseman Kelby Tomlinson mishandled the grounder, leading to only one out instead of two, and allowing the Dodgers to tie the game.

Rough.

Luckily, MoreSplashHits’ team of analysts have come up with some projections based on trends so far this young 2016 season that may brighten the hearts of any Giants faithful.

Our analysts are projecting:

  • The Giants will win on Sunday.
  • The Giants will score 12 runs on Sunday.
  • The first two things will happen provided the Giants don’t score first on Sunday.

Let’s take a closer look at these projections.

GIANTS WILL WIN ON SUNDAY: The trend so far this season has gone like this: The Giants won on Monday, they won on Tuesday, but they lost on Wednesday. The Giants won on Thursday and won on Friday, but lost on Saturday. So the trends say the Giants will win on Sunday … on their way to 108-54 season.

GIANTS WILL SCORE 12 RUNS: The Giants scored 12 runs on Monday, then played a one-run game on Tuesday and played another one-run game on Wednesday. The Giants scored 12 runs again on Thursday, then played a one-run game on Friday and another one-run game on Saturday. So trends indicate the Giants will score 12 runs on Sunday, with a five-run eighth inning.

GIANTS SHOULDN’T SCORE FIRST: Scoring first in a game is generally regarded as a good thing. It’s no fun trying to play from behind. In fact last season, the Giants were 57-32 when scoring first, and 27-46 when the opponent scored first. But this season, it’s the exact opposite. The Giants are 0-2 this season when they score first, but 4-0 when the opponent scores first. So our analysts project that the Dodgers will score first on Sunday, but will still lose. And that makes perfect sense, considering that they will be giving up 12 runs to the Giants.

So rest well, Giants fans, tomorrow will be a brighter day.

Brandon Belt’s contract extension offers insight into Giants’ future

NLCS Giants Cardinals Baseball

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt hits a sacrifice fly during the third inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Do you like the look of the 2016 San Francisco Giants? Hopefully you do because they are going to be together for a while.

The San Francisco Giants and first baseman Brandon Belt have come to terms on a contract extension for six years, $79 million.

The deal locks in seven of their eight starting position players through the 2018 season. Consider:

  • 1B Brandon Belt (signed through 2021)
  • 2B Joe Panik (team control through 2020)
  • SS Brandon Crawford (signed through 2021)
  • 3B Matt Duffy (team control though 2020)
  • C Buster Posey (signed through 2021)
  • LF Angel Pagan (signed through 2016)
  • CF Denard Span (signed through 2018; team option 2019)
  • RF Hunter Pence (signed through 2018)

On the good side, it means consistency over the next couple of years. The down side is, there’s a logjam for players coming up through the system.

Here are positions players listed among the Giants’ top 30 prospects, according to MLB.com, and where they are opening the 2016 season.

  • SS Christian Arroyo (AA)
  • SS Lucius Fox (low-A)
  • 1B Chris Shaw (high-A)
  • OF Mac Williamson (AAA)
  • C Aramis Garcia (high-A)
  • SS Jalen Miller (low-A)
  • OF Jarrett Parker (AAA)
  • OF/IF Hunter Cole (AA)
  • 2B Austin Slater (AA)
  • OF Ronnie Jebavy (high-A)
  • OF Dylan Davis (low-A)

And this list doesn’t include players no longer considered prospects like IF Kelby Tomlinson and C Andrew Susac.

It’s great to have depth in the system, and it also allows that none of the Giants’ current prospects will be rushed to the majors.

It also means you likely won’t be seeing many of the above listed players in San Francisco black and orange any time soon, except for perhaps the outfielders like Williamson or Parker.

The Giants made a major offseason commitment with free agents. They are committing a fair amount to their own products.

Belt’s signing means the Giants aren’t likely to make a big splash in free agency in the near future.

Pitchers Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Cain are under contract through 2017 (Cueto has an opt-out; Cain has a team option the team is likely not to exercise). Jake Peavy will be a free agent, and the Giants are hopeful that some within the system can fill that void like Chris Heston, Clayton Blackburn or Chris Stratton.

In the bullpen, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez are potential free agents after 2016. But the rest of the bullpen is under team control through 2019, and the Giants have a ton potential bullpen candidates in the system.

Great home opener for Giants capped by epic call from Jon Miller

San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence hits a grand slam home run off Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Pedro Baez in the eighth inning of their baseball game Thursday, April 7, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence hits a grand slam home run off Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Pedro Baez in the eighth inning of their baseball game Thursday, April 7, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Jon Miller is a Hall of Fame announcer, and he proved it Thursday during the Giants’ home opener against the Dodgers with a Hall of Fame save.

The Giants were leading 8-6 in the bottom of the eighth and had the bases loaded. Hunter Pence came to the plate against the Dodgers’ Pedro Baez.

On a 1-0 pitcher, Pence sent the ball sailing over the left-center field fence for a grand slam and a 12-6 lead.

This is Jon Miller’s epic call.

If you didn’t want to listen, it went something like this:

“Swing and there’s a high drive, deep left-center field.

It’s on its way.

Adios Pelota!

A grand slam for Buster Posey …. ‘s good friend, Hunter Pence.”

Whoops. Posey had just struck out ahead of Pence.

Anyway, the blast capped a five-run eighth inning – the second five-run eighth inning for the Giants in this new season – as the Giants rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Dodgers 12-6.

If you want to watch, Pence’s blast with Duane Kuiper’s call, it’s here.

Notes

BUNTING ON OPENING DAY: The Giants used three of their four bench players as pinch-hitters Thursday. And the first two bunted. Kelby Tomlinson bunted for a single in the fifth inning, and Ehire Adrianza sacrificed two runners over in the sixth, setting up Angel Pagan’s go-ahead two-run single.

THIN BENCH: The use of Adrianza in the sixth was interesting because if left manager Bruce Bochy with no available reserve infielders. Had Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford or Matt Duffy been hurt or ejected in the last three innings, Gregor Blanco would have had to play the infield. Or, I suppose, they could have moved Buster Posey around the infield. He did play all eight positions in a college game at Florida State.

OUT HELPS GIANTS: While there were a lot of key at-bats that produced hits, one overlooked at-bat the produced an out for the Giants also proved pivotal. In the fifth after the Giants had scored three runs off Dodgers’ starter Alex Wood and had runners on first and third, Brandon Belt grounded to second to end the inning. That allowed Wood to stay in the game. He likely would have come out if Belt had reached. Wood then batted in the top of the sixth, a 1-2-3 inning by Chris Heston. He came out to pitch the sixth, gave up singles to Matt Duffy and Brandon Crawford before getting the hook. Those hits sparked a four-run inning that gave the Giants a 7-3 lead.

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: The death of the neighborhood play proved costly for the Giants in the second inning. An apparent inning-ending double play was wiped out when a replay review confirmed that Joe Panik’s foot came off the bag before receiving the throw from Crawford, resulting in a run scored by the Dodgers. While many Giants fans voiced their frustration, that is the rule now. But here’s another way of looking at it. If Brandon Belt’s foot came off the bag while receiving a throw, and replay confirmed that, no one would have made a peep. This play at second is exactly the same thing.

FRIDAY: Matt Cain makes his first start of the season when he faces Dodgers rookie Ross Stripling, who will be making his big-league debut. Stripling has never pitched above Double-A, going 3-6 with 3.88 ERA for Double-A Tulsa in 2015. Game time is 7:15 p.m.

Welcome to the San Francisco Giants, Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto

San Fransisco Giants’ Johnny Cueto pitches to a Milwaukee Brewers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Johnny Cueto, who signed a six-year, $130 million contract in the offseason, made a solid debut for the Giants, holding the Brewers to one run on six hits, no walks — we’ll say that again NO WALKS — and four strikeouts over seven innings as the Giants beat the Brewers 2-1 on Tuesday.

Cueto said he felt no pressure going into his Giants debut.

“No, no, why should I feel any type of pressure? That’s just another game,” he said.

Cueto got into a bit of trouble in the second inning after the Brewers puts runners on the corners with no outs. Cueto got Ramon Flores to hit into a double play, allowing Jonathan Lucroy to score. But that was it as Cueto kept the Brewers hitters off-balance.

“He just has great savvy, stuff, everything,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s enjoyable to watch.”

Cueto said it was a great start to his Giants career.

“I felt very comfortable since Day 1. I’m going to be here for a long time based on the contract that I signed,” Cueto said. “It’s good that I had a good outing, especially the first one.”

Wait?!? A long time?? Doesn’t Cueto’s contract have an opt-out clause after 2017??

Hmmmmm.

Cueto’s win was the first by a Dominican Giants pitcher since Sergio Valdez did it 21 years ago.

It was also a far better debut than the Giants’ last big free-agent pitcher they signed: Barry Zito.

After signing a seven-year, $126 million deal in 2007, Zito gave up two runs in five innings in a 7-0 loss to the Padres. It didn’t get much better after that.

Cueto also had a fun exchange with the Brewers’ Ryan Braun.

In the third inning, Cueto struck out Braun on a 3-2 changeup. Afterwards, Braun smiled at Cueto and said “Good pitch.”

When Cueto started Braun out with the same changeup in the sixth, Braun smacked it into left-center for a double. Cueto smiled back at Braun.

Watch the exchange here:

http://m.giants.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=574650783&topic_id=8878828&width=400&height=224&property=mlb

THE OFFENSE: The Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson did well to keep Giants hitters off-balance. After scoring 12 on Opening Day, the Giants managed just two on Tuesday. Brandon Crawford belted a solo home run in the second, and Matt Duffy added an RBI groundout in the third.

THE BULLPEN: After Cueto left after the seventh inning, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla went six up and six down in the eighth and ninth innings.

THE DEFENSE: Right fielder Hunter Pence couldn’t catch a liner by Chris Carter in the second. But by keeping the ball for going to the wall, he was able to hold Carter to a single. That proved to be a key play when Carter was a erased on a double play that scored Lucroy.

The Brewers got Jonathan Villar to third in the bottom of the third. But Villar was erased at home trying to score on a grounder by Domingo Santana. Crawford, playing in, fielded the grounder but threw home on the wrong side of the plate. Buster Posey caught the ball and placed a perfect sweep tag on Villar for the out.

“It was a great, great tag there by Buster,” Crawford said. “Obviously if that doesn’t happen, it’s the tying run and who knows, we might still be playing right now. So, that was definitely a little thing early in the game that ended up mattering in the outcome.”

WEDNESDAY: Jeff Samardzija makes his Giants debut. Instead of facing Matt Garza, who was placed on the DL with shoulder troubles, he will face Taylor Jungmann. Samardzija may have some different faces playing behind him as Bochy said he planned to rest some starters after the flu bug swept through the clubhouse and the Giants return to San Francisco for their home opener on Thursday. Wednesday’s first pitch at 10:40 a.m.

Chase Utley’s slide against Padres was not a dirty slide, but it was an illegal slide

utleyslide

Even though he’s supposed to be serving a two-game suspension, Chase Utley’s name popped up a couple of times on Opening Day.

The first occurrence came in the initial application of the “Chase Utley Rule.” In the Braves-Nationals game, the Braves’ Nick Markakis ran himself into a double play when he was ruled to have illegally contacted Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy with a take-out slide.

Markakis was on first when Hector Olivera hit a ground to third. Markakis was forced out at second, but his slide went wide of the bag at second base, taking out the legs of Murphy. A double play was ruled as Markakis was ruled for interference because, even though we was able to contact second base, he slid past the bag, making the slide illegal according to the new rule.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez stepped out of the dugout for a moment, but that was only to allow the Braves to take a look at the play. Once the Braves saw that Murphy was on the bag when he received the throw, Gonzalez returned to the dugout. No argument.

Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, left, avoids Atlanta Braves' Nick Markakis, right, while turning a double play on a ground ball hit by Hector Olivera in the seventh inning of a baseball game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, left, avoids Atlanta Braves’ Nick Markakis, right, while turning a double play on a ground ball hit by Hector Olivera in the seventh inning of a baseball game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

In the Dodgers-Padres game, Utley was trying to score from first on a double into the left-field corner. As Utley ran down the third-base line to home plate, he ran inside the baseline, then slide into home with his legs out wide toward Padres catcher Derek Norris as he reached back to the plate. Norris was able to catch the throw and tag Utley out.

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The reaction to the play ranged from “Utley with another dirty slide” or “Utley is human garbage” to “Oh, get over yourself. This was a good heads-up baseball play. Stop coddling baseball players.”

As is usually the case, these stances on both sides of the issue are wrong.

First, was this a dirty slide? No.

Utley was not trying to injure Norris or was the slide reckless enough to potentially injure Norris, like Utley’s slide in the playoffs last fall against the Mets’ Ruben Tejada.

Secondly, was this a good heads-up baseball play? No.

It was an illegal slide.

It’s an illegal slide in 2016. An illegal slide in 2014. An illegal slide 30 years ago … if you actually take time to read the rule book.

According to rule 7.08 (b), any runner is out when he intentionally interferes with a thrown ball or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball.

On this play, Utley tried to do both.

The problem with this rule comes with the interpretation. Umpires will say they can’t read minds and determine a player’s true intent. Because of that, players have been allowed a huge amount of latitude on plays like these, causing only the most egregious violations of the rule to be called. And that has led to the current quandary.

On this play, Utley’s intent is obvious. No runner coming home after rounding third base ever runs inside the baseline unless he is trying to avoid a tag at home.

But Utley wasn’t trying to avoid a tag as he ran directly toward Norris and his tag.

What Utley’s intent here was – and even those folks on Utley’s side of this argument agree with this – was to A) potentially block Norris’ line of sight to the ball coming in; B) hope to get into the ball’s flight path to Norris and possibly be hit by the thrown ball; C) if all that fails, try to disrupt Norris’ attempt to catch the ball and make the tag.

In these three scenarios, A is still OK. But B and C are illegal, and Utley’s attempt to cause these things to happen is obvious.

Fortunately for the Padres, Utley’s attempts went for naught and Norris caught the ball and applied the tag.

The ironic part of this play is that if Utley went directly into home plate, or even tried a sweep slide on the OTHER SIDE of the baseline, he may have stood a much better chance of being safe.

But this rule is not complicated. And umpires need to stop giving the runners the latitude, and start giving the benefit of the doubt to the fielder.

The job of the runner is to do one of two things: attempt to get the base as quickly as possible in order to beat the throw, OR attempt to avoid the tag. If runners are determined to do anything other than that, they are out.

Our advanced analytics team projects how the San Francisco Giants will fare in 2016

paragdThe 2016 baseball season is opening.

And that means it’s prediction time. Everyone is making his or her picks to win the World Series.

The Cubs.

The Astros.

The Mets.

The Royals.

The Dodgers (gimme a break).

And this is also the time of year when MoreSplashHits makes its prediction on how many games the Giants will win in 2016.

But instead of just going with our gut, this year MoreSplashHits turned it over to its advanced analytics team (advanced analytics being all the rage right now).

Our advanced analytics have been crunching the numbers, looking at trends to project how the Giants will do this season.

And here is the result.

neGchart

The advanced analytics team says ….

The Giants will win between 88 and 94 games.

The Giants will make the postseason.

The Giants will win the World Series.

See you all on Market Street this fall.

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San Francisco Giants’ 2016 opening day roster all but set

San Francisco Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson (37) hits during a spring training baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

San Francisco Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson (37) hits during a spring training baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Well, we talk about when camp open that the Giants’ roster battles like would lack drama this spring.

And that’s a good thing.

It means that there weren’t any big injuries that would prompt some drama.

The Giants made moves on Sunday as they head into the final week of spring training that pretty much locked their opening day 25-man roster.

Because the Giants open the season with 23 games in the first 24 days – a very good thing for us fans, but not so great for the players – the Giants decided to keep 13 pitchers.

We thought that the acquisition of strong arms like Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto might preclude the Giants from opening the season with a short bench. But the schedule changed their thinking.

There really aren’t many chances that the weather could help with their busy early schedule – perhaps a three-game set in Colorado in the middle of the month.

So Cory Gearrin makes the club to reinforce the bullpen. It also keeps the Giants from a tough decision, as Gearrin was out of options. This will at least buy the Giants a couple of weeks to make a call on that.

It also means the Giants won’t carry a fifth outfielder. That means Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker will open the season in Sacramento.

Also heading to Fresno is Conor Gillaspie, despite having a very good spring. But Gillaspie is a corner infielder (3B-1B) and other options – Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson – provide more flexibility. Plus Gillaspie would need to be added to the 40-man roster, which is currently full. Tomlinson’s strong push late in the spring made that decision easier for the Giants.

That leaves one decision that really isn’t a decision at all. And that decision involves a backup catcher: Trevor Brown or Andrew Susac. Susac hasn’t played in a week because of his surgically repaired wrist, while Brown picked up the Barney Nugent Award as being the most impressive player in his first big league camp.

So barring any developments in the final week, here is your 2016 Opening Day roster.

Starting lineup: 1B Brandon Belt, 2B Joe Panik, SS Brandon Crawford, 3B Matt Duffy, C Buster Posey, LF Angel Pagan, CF Denard Span, RF Hunter Pence.

Bench: OF Gregor Blanco, IF Ehire Andriaza, IF Kelby Tomlinson, C Trevor Brown.

Starting rotation: LH Madison Bumgarner, RH Jeff Samardzija, RH Johnny Cueto, RH Jake Peavy, RH Matt Cain.

Bullpen: RH Santiago Casilla, RH Sergio Romo, RH Hunter Stickland, RH George Kontos, RH Chris Heston, RH Cory Gearrin, LH Javier Lopez, LH Josh Osich.

At least we can say this about Johnny Cueto: He’s not a Dodger

http://m.giants.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=554578783&topic_id=8878828&width=400&height=224&property=mlb

Giants fans tuned Monday night to watch Johnny Cueto pitch after he was hit hard in his first spring start.

In his second spring start, Cueto got hit hard ….  In the head.

Cueto’s first pitch Monday night was sent right back at him by Oakland’s Billy Burns. The liner hit Cueto in the forehead, rebounded over the second baseman’s glove into shallow right-center for a leadoff double.

Cueto dropped to all fours, then looked out to the outfield rubbing his forehead, as manager Bruce Bochy and the medical staff raced out to check on him.

“There’s nothing that scares me more than that, that line drive up the middle,” Bochy said. “First night game, first pitch of the game. I was up as soon as it touched him, and I’m hoping it was what it was, more of a glancing blow. Still, it caught him pretty good.”

Cueto quickly got on his feet and told trainers he was fine and wanted to continue.

When play resumed, Cueto appeared confused when he started after a dribbler between the mound and first base off the bat of the next hitter Mark Canha. But then he backed off thinking first baseman Brandon Belt would field the ball. The play went for an infield single.

Josh Reddick followed that with a long three-run home run.

Cueto got out of the rest of the inning with a strikeout and two infield grounders.

He allowed just an infield single in the second. In the third, he gave up a double and a walk, finishing with 38 pitches. After Reddick’s home run, Reddick’s double in the third was the only ball to leave the infield.

Bochy said Cueto will be monitored for concussions symptoms over the next few days, but was only treated for the contusion.

“He was fine out there,” Bochy said. “He answered all the questions. He wanted to stay out there. … Guess it shows how tough he is, in a Spring Training game.”

More Splash Hits emerges from baseball hibernation

hibernatioMoreSplashHits is alive!!!

After a long, cold, quiet winter, we’ve decided that it’s time to start blogging baseball again.

And with Opening Day still three weeks away, there is plenty of time to get back into regular-season form.

So let’s start first by getting caught up.

The Giants had a busy offseason with three major free-agent signings: pitcher Jeff Samardzija, pitcher Johnny Cueto and outfielder Denard Span.

Gone are pitchers Mike Leake, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson (retired), Jeremy Affeldt (retired), Yusmeiro Petit, outfielders Marlon Byrd and Alejandro de Aza and catcher Hector Sanchez, among others.

Despite all of that flux, the Giants came to spring training with much of its 2016 roster decisions already in place.

Starting lineup: 1B Brandon Belt, 2B Joe Panik, SS Brandon Crawford, 3B Matt Duffy, C Buster Posey, CF Denard Span, RF Hunter Pence, LF Angel Paga/Gregor Blanco.

Starting rotation: LH Madison Bumgarner, RH Jeff Samardzija, RH Johnny Cueto, RH Jake Peavy, RH Matt Cain.

Even the bullpen looks pretty firm with RH Santiago Casilla, RH Sergio Romo, LH Javier Lopez, RH George Kontos, LH Josh Osich, RH Hunter Strickland and RH Chris Heston.

One of the five bench spots is held down by the Pagan/Blanco platoon.

At least one other spot will go to the backup catcher: Andrew Susac, Trevor Brown or journeyman George Kottaras.

At least two other spots will go to reserve infielders. Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson are the leading candidates to claim those jobs, but veteran Conor Gillaspie was brought in to compete for a spot.

That leaves the final bench spot potentially for a fifth outfielder. The Giants brought in veteran Kyle Blanks to provide some right-handed pop on the bench, something they were missing last season. Rookie Mac Williamson has been solid this spring, hitting .344 with four home runs and 11 RBI. Left-handed Jarrett Parker is another option.

But the Giants could decide to keep three catchers, allowing them to use Susac as the RH bench bat.

Those are things to be watching in the closing weeks of spring training.

San Francisco Giants about to set new precedent on the lack of Splash Hits

Brandon Crawford has two career Splash Hits, both in 2014.

Brandon Crawford has two career Splash Hits, both in 2014.

As the San Francisco Giants began a four-game home series against the Washington Nationals, there are very close to setting a new precedent at AT&T Park.

If the Giants don’t hit a Splash Hit in the series against the Nationals, it will mark the longest they have gone into a season without putting one into McCovey Cove since the ballpark opened in 2000.

The Giants have never gone an entire season without at least one Splash Hits — remember a Splash Hit is defined as a ball that is hit into San Francisco Bay on the fly, no rebounds.

The fewest Splash Hits the Giants have recorded in a season is one. That was accomplished twice — once in 2013 when Pablo Sandoval hit the lone Splash Hit and in 2006 when the king of Splash Hits — Barry Bonds — put one into the drink.

In fact, that 2006 season marks the latest date of the first Splash Hit of the season. It occurred on Aug. 21, 2006, when Bonds belted one of Arizona’s Livan Hernandez.

The Giants do not have a Splash Hit in 2015. The last Splash Hit was recorded on Sept. 25 of last season by Brandon Belt.

This comes after a 2014 season in which the Giants hit five Splash Hits, the most in the post-Bonds era.

But it’s not like it’s all about the Giants. Giants opponents also have not hit a ball into the bay this season.

That also has never happened. Opponents have hit at least one into the bay in every one of the 15 seasons at AT&T Park. It almost happened in 2009, until Arizona’s Miguel Montero hit one on Sept. 29.

And again, this after opponents hit eight balls into the bay in 2014, including Bryce Harper’s shot off Hunter Strickland in the division series last October. That is the most by opponents in one season.

So as a blog named to honor Splash Hits, MoreSplashHits declares that it’s about time the Giants got busy about hitting one into the bay.

After 16-5 stretch, the San Francisco Giants now face a month-long gauntlet in playoff push

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, left, and San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence celebrate after defeating the Atlanta Braves 6-1in a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, left, and San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence celebrate after defeating the Atlanta Braves 6-1in a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Following their 6-1 win Wednesday over the Atlanta Braves, the San Francisco Giants have completed a 21-game stretch with a 16-5 record.

It’s a pretty good run, right? Of course it is. When the Giants started this run on July 10, they were at .500 (43-43) and 5.5 games out of first place in the NL West.

Now they are 11 games over .500 (59-48)  and two games out of first place in the NL West  and a half-game ahead of the Chicago Cubs for the second wild-card spot.

(OK, you all must be waiting for the “but” so here it comes)

But … we would hope the Giants would finish the previous 21-game stretch with a good record. Those 21 games came against six teams with losing records and one — the Rangers — that is one-game above .500 thanks to their current four-game winning streak.

But the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Padres, Athletics, Brewers, and Braves are currently a combined 52 games below .500.

Well, the fun run ended Wednesday in Atlanta.

Starting Thursday in Chicago, the Giants will play 26 games over the next 28 days against six teams all with winning records.

  • Chicago Cubs 58-48
  • Houston Astros 60-49
  • Washington Nationals 55-51
  • St. Louis Cardinals 67-39
  • Pittsburgh Pirates 62-44
  • Los Angeles Dodgers 61-46

The Giants are 17-15 this season against teams that currently have a winning record; 42-33 against teams with losing records.

That 17-15 record is padded by a nice 9-3 mark against the Dodgers.

But the Giants are also 0-3 against the Nationals and 0-3 against the Pirates. They are 1-1 against the Astros. They have not yet faced the Cubs or Cardinals and will play 13 of their next 26 against those two teams, starting with a four-game series at Wrigley this weekend.

After they clear this gauntlet of contenders, which will end with a three-game set in Chavez Ravine Aug. 31-Sept. 2, things again get easier for the Giants, as 25 of their last 29 games against teams that currently have losing records (only a four-game set against the Dodgers at AT&T Park Sept. 28-Oct. 1 breaks up that string).

So if the Giants are going to remain contenders in NL West and NL wild-card race, they will need to keep their heads above water over the next four weeks.

MoreSplashHits predicts NL All-Star players for 2015 midsummer’s classic

Buster Posey has experience with big hits in Cincinnati.

Buster Posey has experience with big hits in Cincinnati.

The starters for the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati will be announced Sunday night, with the reserves announced on Monday.

So there’s still time for MoreSplashHits to make our predictions.

These predictions are based on the notion that the leaders released earlier this week will remain unchanged. That is unlikely to happen.

Usually, there is a huge surge in voting in the final days which can have a big impact on the final results.

The closest vote is at third base, where Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals held a narrow lead over Todd Frazier of the Reds.

But, again, we base these picks on the latest standings. We’ll throw in caveats at the bottom

STARTERS, BASED ON FAN VOTING RELEASED ON JUNE 30

C – Buster Posey, SF
1B – Paul Goldschmidt, Arz
2B – Dee Gordon, Mia
SS – Jhonny Peralta, StL
3B – Matt Carpenter, StL
OF – Bryce Harper, Was
OF – Giancarlo Stanton, Mia
OF – Matt Holliday, StL

RESERVES, SELECTED BY PLAYERS

C – Yadier Molina, StL
1B – Adrian Gonzalez, LA
2B – Howie Kendrick, LA
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Col
3B – Todd Frazier, Cin
OF – Andrew McCutcheon, Pit
OF – Ryan Braun, Mil
OF – Joc Pederson, LA
SP – Max Scherzer, Was
SP – Gerrit Cole, Pit
SP – Michael Wacha, StL
SP – Zach Greinke, LA
SP – Madison Bumgarner, SF
RP – Trevor Rosenthal, StL
RP – Mark Melancon, Pit
RP – Aroldis Chapman, CIn

MANAGERS’ PICKS

P – Shelby Miller, Atl
P – Jacob deGrom, NY
P – Jonathan Papelbon, Phi
P – AJ Burnett, Pit
P – Matt Harvey, NY
PP – Justin Upton, SD
PP – Anthony Rizzo, Chi
PP – Nolan Arenado, Col
PP – Francisco Cervelli, Pit

None of the starting pitchers selected here as scheduled to pitch the Sunday before the All-Star Game, which would disqualify them from participating. So it would appear there would be few all-star replacements.

I really think Giants manager Bruce Bochy would like to select Brandon Crawford to the team. But it looks like that will be contigent on Matt Carpenter winning the fan vote. If Frazier wins the fan vote, as he should, then that allows the players to pick the deserving Nolan Arenado, and opens a spot for Bochy to take Crawford.

The manager only gets to pick four position players. Under this scenario, I have Bochy taking Justin Upton and Anthony Rizzo (both deserving) as their teams’ lone representative. I have Bochy taking Arenado, as a deserving player, and Cervelli as the third catcher. I’m sure Bochy does not want Buster Posey catching more than three innings, creating a need for a third catcher. In Bochy’s previous two All-Star games as manager with the Giants, he took three catchers, although in 2013 he took his third catcher as an injury replacement for a non-catcher.

He could do that again to get Crawford on the team.

As far as other Giants go, the only other player with a shot of making the team is second baseman Joe Panik. If Bochy can get Crawford on the team, looking for Bochy to nominate Panik as one of the five players to be candidates for the fans Final Vote.

Also look for the Nationals’ Denard Span and Pirates’ Starling Marte to be added to the roster for the injured Matt Holliday and Giancarlo Stanton.

Peavy, Lollis and maybe Osich join San Francisco Giants active roster

Jake Peavy

Jake Peavy

I didn’t know there was anything wrong with Tim Hudson.

He’s going on the disabled list.

I do know there’s something wrong with Santiago Casilla.

He is NOT going on the disabled list.

As the San Francisco Giants arrived in Washington D.C. for a weekend series with the Nationals, a bevy of roster moves followed them.

As expected, Jake Peavy was activated from the disabled list after spending more than two months there recovering from a back strain that plagued him in spring training.

Hudson was placed on the DL with a right shoulder strain. He’s also battled a sore hip. But basically, the official diagnosis is that Hudson is suffering from heiskindofoldsowewillgivehimabreakitis.

In a more surprising move, the Giants designated Travis Ishikawa for assignment about week after the hero of the NLCS was called up from Sacramento. Ishikawa was 0 for 5 with a walk in his most recent stint.

It’s the second time this season Ishikawa has been DFA’d. Assuming he clears waivers — again — Ishikawa likely will head back to Sacramento.

Taking his place on the roster will be outfielder Ryan Lollis.

Lollis will be making his major league debut after seven seasons in the Giants’ farm system. The 28-year-old was drafted in the 37th round of the 2009 draft by the Giants.

Lollis was hitting .358 with a very impressive .431 OBP through three levels of the minors this season. With Triple-A Sacramento, Lollis was hitting .353 with a .422 OBP in 116 PAs over 32 games. He has two home runs and 11 RBI, and can play all three outfield positions, something Ishikawa could not.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle also reported that relief pitcher Josh Osich was in Washington, although an official move has not been announced.

Schulman reports that Casilla, who blew a two-run lead Wednesday without recording an out, will not be going on the DL. Manager Bruce Bochy will give Casilla a couple of days off to rest a sore shoulder.

The Giants will need to create room for Osich not only on the 25-man active roster, but also the 40-man roster, as Osich is not currently on the 40-man list.

Correct call made in Giants-Dodgers game despite gaffe of third-base coach Roberto Kelly

From left, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly argues with third base umpire Fieldin Culbreth as San Francisco Giants third base coach Roberto Kelly and Gregor Blanco wait for resolution in the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in San Francisco. San Francisco won, 3-2. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

From left, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly argues with third base umpire Fieldin Culbreth as San Francisco Giants third base coach Roberto Kelly and Gregor Blanco wait for resolution in the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in San Francisco. San Francisco won, 3-2. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had a legitmate beef on Wednesday night.

But, ultimately, the correct call was made in the bizarre play involving Giants third-base coach Roberto Kelly and Gregor Blanco in the ninth inning.

OK, let’s set up the play.

With runners on first and second and one out in the ninth of a 2-2 tie, Brandon Belt shot a single into left field. Blanco, on second base, got a late break on the line drive and had no intention on trying to score as he rounded third base.

But as he rounded the base, Blanco bumped into Kelly, who was standing about six feet from the base.

Mattingly came out to argue interference with third-base umpire and crew chief Fieldin Culbreth, as Blanco clearly came in contatct with Kelly.

“The third-base coach blocked him,” Mattingly said. “I guess that’s the way I’ve been taught – the third-base coach is not allowed to block the runner from continuing on. It’s obviously interference and they missed the call, basically. I don’t know who was supposed to be watching but they weren’t.”

He continued: “He didn’t see it. He was watching the play. I don’t know why the third-base ump is watching the play. There’s nothing for him to watch. It’s a ground ball to left. I don’t know who’s watching to see if he touched the base. I really don’t know what the umpires’ responsibilities are there. But I do know there’s no way in baseball they allow the third-base coach to come up and basically block the runner from going forward, and that’s what happened tonight. That’s obviously a missed call. It’s not reviewable from their explanation.”

It seems that the Dodgers’ main beef is based on the idea that Culbreth didn’t see the play, because he wasn’t looking. And he wasn’t.

filedn

But let’s take a look at the facts.

  • FACT: Blanco bumped into Kelly.
  • FACT: Culbreth didn’t see it.
  • FACT: Blanco was not attempting to score.
  • FACT: Kelly did not prevent Blanco from attempting to score, not did he assist him in getting back to third
  • FACT: There was no play at third base by the Dodgers.

So, it would appear that the Dodgers were hoping to get bailed out of a ninth-inning jam not by a play that they made, but by a technicality or an umpire’s interpretation.

But one problem. Here’s the rule concerning the play from the MLB rulebook.

Rule 7.09
It is interference by a batter or runner when …
(g) In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base.

So, by the rule, Culbreth’s ruling was correct.

“Don came out and asked me did I see him grab him,” Culbreth said “I told him no, I did not see him grab him. . . . The rule is pretty specific in the fact that he had to touch and physically grab him and assist him in returning to the base. That did not happen. If he doesn’t physically assist him in returning to the base then there’s no interference.”

Blanco concurred: “It wasn’t like he stopped me. I was stopping on third. I don’t feel he was stopping me at all.”

The problem comes in that some umpires would have seen the contact and ruled Blanco out … simply on the basis of stupidity.

There is absolutely no reason for Kelly to be standings THAT close to third base. There is no reason for contact to ever happen in that circumstance.

But it’s another example of a learning curve for Kelly, who made the move from first-base coach to third-base coach to replace the retired Tim Flannery.

You may remember on Opening Day, Kelly got Nori Aoki thrown out with a late stop sign.

On that play, Aoki was rounding third on a double by Joe Panik, when Kelly threw up a late stop sign. That led to Aoki to get caught too far off of third base. He was thrown out in the resulting rundown.

Not surprising, a few days later Aoki scored on a play when he blew threw a Kelly stop sign.

Kelly’s still learning his new job. Hopefully, it doesn’t cost the Giants in the future.

Tim Lincecum gets new haircut and look back to many sides of Timmy

Tim Lincecum's new haircut on Friday, via Instagram

Tim Lincecum’s new haircut on Friday, via Instagram

The Giants have lost their first four home games of 2015.

The Giants have lost seven straight games overall.

The Giants, at 3-8, are off to one of the worst starts by a defending World Series champion in history.

So what is there to blog about?

Well, Tim Lincecum’s hair, of course!

The Giants right-hander lopped off his long mane for a more slick-back look on Friday.

So we thought it might be a good time to look back on the many sides of Timmy through the years.

You’ve gotta Timmy, the first-round draft pick in 2006.

timdraft

And Timmy in 2008, the first of his two Cy Young years.

tim2008

Timmy hoisting the first of his World Series trophies, in 2010.

2010WS

Timmy at his second World Series parade in 2012.

World Series Giants Parade Baseball

The clean-cut Timmy, with glasses to boot in 2013.

tim2013

And the mustachio’d Timmy in 2014.

timm2014

The San Franciso Giants’ 0-3 home start is not their worst ever … yet

Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado, left, rounds the bases after his three-run home run off San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, right, during the first inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Colorado Rockies’ Nolan Arenado, left, rounds the bases after his three-run home run off San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, right, during the first inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The San Francisco lost on Wednesday … again. It was their sixth straight loss, their third straight at home.

Fans at AT&T Park haven’t been able to cheer a win in 2015. And you’re probably wondering if their 0-3 start the Giants’ worst home start ever.

Well, the answer is no. In fact, it’s not even the worst start in their current home park.

Back in 2000, the opening season in the Giants’ home by the bay — then Pacific Bell Park — the Giants opened the home season by being swept by the Dodgers in three games.

Then the Giants lost two more to the Arizona Diamondbacks to end their first homestand of the year at 0-5.

They went on the road, came back and lost to the Montreal Expos, pushing their home record to 0-6.

The Giants won their first game at Pacific Bell Park on April 29.

So let’s hope the 2015 Giants aren’t looking for their first home win on April 29.

But, again, here’s a silver lining.

The 2000 Giants rebounded from the poor home start to win 97 games and the National League West Division championship.

Giants open home schedule with fewest runs scored since 1911

San Francisco Giants' Angel Pagan, right, scores past Colorado Rockies catcher Nick Hundley on a sacrifice fly by Matt Duffy during the eighth inning of a baseball game on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants’ Angel Pagan, right, scores past Colorado Rockies catcher Nick Hundley on a sacrifice fly by Matt Duffy during the eighth inning of a baseball game on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The San Francisco Giants’ offensive ineptness has reached historic levels.

Monday’s loss to the Colorado Rockies in the home opener was just the ninth time in franchise history, dating back to 1883, that the Giants have been shut out in their home opener, and only the third time in San Francisco Giants history.

The Giants looked like they might set a franchise record by being shut out in their first two home contests.

The Giants didn’t push across their first run at home this season until the eighth inning in a 4-1 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday.

Of course, it took two outs for the Giants to get a run home. After the Giants put the first two runners on in the eighth, Angel Pagan alertly advanced to third on an incredible catch by Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado in foul territory. Pagan scored on a more traditional sacrifice fly to the outfield by Matt Duffy.

The 16 consecutive scoreless innings to open the home schedule are the most by the Giants since 1914.

Five of the previous eight times the Giants have been shutout at home occurred before 1914 (1890, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1913). Baseball reference does list box scores before 1914, so we don’t know if 16 consecutive scoreless innings are the most in franchise history.

But we do know this: the one run scored in the Giants’ first two home games of the season tied a franchise record, matching the total from the 1911 season.

If you’re looking for good news, in 1911 the Giants won their third home game of the season and went on to capture the National League pennant.

So maybe it’s a sign. We can only hope.

Don’t worry: History shows Madison Bumgarner will be just fine in his next start

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday April 11, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday April 11, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

 

Saturday night was a rough day for Madison Bumgarner.

MadBum got tagged for five runs on eight hits in three innings in the Giants’ 10-2 loss to the Padres.

You can already hear the talking heads and bloggers going on and on about Saturday’s game is an example of how Bumgarner is feeling the effects of last year’s deep playoff run and high number of innings pitched.

But we’ve seen this before.

Bumgarner said afterwards that his mechanics were off, causing all of his pitches to go flat. Even so, the Padres didn’t exactly light him up.

The Padres’ first-inning rally started with a broken-bat, chalk-finder double by Matt Kemp. A couple of seeing-eye singles resulted in a 2-0 lead.

In the third, more seeing-eye singles and soft liners that dropped in front of outfielders led to three more runs. In all, it was Kemp’s double and nine singles.

Not great. But let’s pump the brakes on the something-is-wrong-with-MadBum talk.

We’ll remind you that after two starts, Clayton Kershaw has a 5.84 ERA, which is worse than Bumgarner’s 5.40.

And we’ve seen this before from Bumgarner. This was Bumgarner’s ninth career start in which he allowed more earned runs than innings pitched.

And we’ve seen him bounce back.

In the eight follow-up starts that came after those rough outings, Bumgarner has gone 5-1 with a 1.11 ERA. That includes his start in the 2012 World Series when he followed up his ugly start in Game 1 of the NLCS with a gem in Game 2 of the Series.

In the one loss, Bumgarner gave up two earned runs in eight innings, but lost because the Giants didn’t score any runs.

And all eight of those follow-up starts came at home. Bumgarner’s next start will come Thursday at home against the Diamondbacks.

Here’s the breakdown of those starts:

  • Aug. 25, 2010 (Cin) — 2.2 IP, 7 ER (8 R) 7 H, 1 BB, 3 K
    Next: Aug. 31 (Col) — 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 2 K
  • June 21, 2011 (Min) — 0.1 IP, 8 ER, 9 H, 1 K
    Next: June 26 (Cle) — 7 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 11 K, win
  • July 30, 2011 (at Cin) — 4 IP, 5 ER (7 R), 7 H, 3 BB, 4 K
    Next: Aug. 4 (Phi) — 8 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 9 K, loss
  • July 4, 2012 (at (Was) — 5 IP, 7 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 7 K
    Next: July 13 (Hou) — 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, win
  • Sep. 11, 2012 (at Col) — 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 11 H, 1 BB, 2 K,
    Next: Sept. 17 (Col) — 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, 6 K, win
  • Oct. 14, 2012 (StL) – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 K
    Next: Oct. 25 (Det) – 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 K, win
  • May 17, 2013 (at Col) — 4.2 IP, 7 ER (9 R) 8 H, 2 BB, 4 K
    Next: May 22 (Was) — 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K
  • July 28, 2014 (Pit) — 4 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 2 K
    Next: 9 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 10 K, win

The combined numbers from Bumgarner’s follow-up starts:

57 IP, 7 ER, 17 BB, 51 K, 5-1

So relax. MadBum will be fine.

The sticky situation between the Padres’ Derek Norris and the Giants’ Angel Pagan

Derek Norris of the Padres and Angel Pagan of the Giants

Derek Norris of the Padres and Angel Pagan of the Giants

You can call it the greatest overreaction to a piece of gum since Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles.

gum

In the top of the ninth inning of a 0-0 tie, the Giants’ Angel Pagan and Padres catcher Derek Norris got into a jawing match that resulted in both dugouts being warned by home plate umpire Tripp Gibson.

But what could have sparked a near-brawl between the Giants and Padres?

“It was something really small,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “You can ask them. It was kind of silly, to be honest. It was intense out there.”

OK. So Pagan was asked by reporters.

“It was everything for a piece of gum,” he said.

As Pagan came to bat in the ninth, he looked down in the batter’s box, picked up something small and appeared to fling it at Norris’ shinguard. Norris took offense to that and stood up to tell Pagan about it, and Pagan barked back.

Pagan said the small item was a piece of gum. He was trying to fling it away, but it stuck to his glove and hit Norris.

Afterwards Pagan said: “ That’s his game face. I respect that. … He didn’t have to take that position.”

Norris wasn’t having any of that, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin: “He was just being kind of dickhead, and I don’t take kindly to that. … I don’t come into center field and throw gum at him when he’s playing defense.”

Derek. It was gum. GUM!!

Padres pitcher Craig Kimbrel followed that up by buzzing Pagan high and tight.

“I just happened,” Kimbrel said. “I was wild today.”

He was smiling when he said that.

But it didn’t end there. Pagan then followed by lining a 3-2 pitch into center field for a leadoff triple.

After sliding into third, Pagan celebrated loudly — in the direction of the Giants dugout, or Kimbrel, who was backing up third on the play, or both.

San Francisco Giants' Angel Pagan pumps his fist after sliding into third with a triple as umpire Greg Gibson signals safe in the ninth inning of a baseball game won 1-0 by Giants over the San Diego Padres in 12 innings Thursday, April 9, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

San Francisco Giants’ Angel Pagan pumps his fist after sliding into third with a triple as umpire Greg Gibson signals safe in the ninth inning of a baseball game won 1-0 by Giants over the San Diego Padres in 12 innings Thursday, April 9, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Kimbrel then stared down Pagan.

But Kimbrel got the last laugh, getting Brandon Crawford to pop up and Casey McGehee to hit into an inning-ending double play with Pagan still on third.

As he was leaving the field, Kimbrel barked at Pagan.

Just another fun day at Petco Park with the Giants and the Padres.

Oh, and by the way, the Giants won 1-0 in 12 innings.

“It was a great game overall,” Pagan said. “It was a very fun game, interesting, fun. Everything.”

Chris Heston’s unlikely road to San Francisco Giants’ rotation leads to victory

San Francisco Giants' Chris Heston throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 8, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

San Francisco Giants’ Chris Heston throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 8, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The San Francisco Giants were in need of some good news. And it came from an unlikely source — Chris Heston.

The rookie right-hander pitched six solid innings to propel the Giants to a 5-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.

Coming into Wednesday, the Giants were unsure of the health of Jake Peavy and Brandon Belt and placed Matt Cain on the disabled list.

Heston was called up to fill in Cain’s spot. But after Peavy looked good in his bullpen session before Wednesday’s game — putting him on course to start Sunday in San Diego — it looked as if Heston’s start Wednesday would be a spot start with Ryan Vogelsong filling Cain’s spot in the rotation after Peavy’s return.

But then Heston did what he did Wednesday. He gave up two unearned runs on three hits and two walks on 91 pitches over six innings. He was the first rookie pitcher to start a game for the Giants in the opening week of the season since Matt Cain in 2006. He became the first rookie pitcher to start and win a game in Week 1 since Kurt Ainsworth in 2003.

The first unearned run was his own fault. Heston hit A.J. Pollock with a pitch in the first inning, then allowed Pollock go to third on an errant pickoff throw. Pollock scored on a groundout.

“The first inning started to unravel a little bit, kind of a little shaky there,” Heston said. “But I was able settle down and get back into it.”

In the sixth, he gave up a laser double to Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt advanced to third on a pitch (which should have been caught by Hector Sanchez) and scored on a passed ball by Sanchez.

And now it looks as if Heston will start Monday in the home opener against the Rockies.

“We’re not moving him,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We need him right now. What a shot in the arm for us.”

It is an unlikely outcome given Heston’s bumpy road to this point.

Heston was drafted in the 47th round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft by the Twins, out of Seminole Community College in Florida. He did not sign and remained at Seminole. He was drafted in the 29th round of the 2008 Draft by the Nationals, but passed on the Nats to attend East Carolina.

The Giants drafted him in the 12th round of the 2009 Draft, and Heston signed. His pro career got off to a bumpy start, going 1-5 in Rookie ball in 2009 and 5-13 for Class A Augusta in 2010.

But things started to come together in 2011 when he went 12-4 with 3.16 ERA for Class A San Jose. He went 9-8 with a 2.24 ERA and 1.103 WHIP for Double-A Richmond in 2012, earning an Eastern League All-Star nod.

He was added to the Giants’ 40-man roster that offseason, but success didn’t follow him to Triple-A in 2013. He went 7-6 with a 5.80 ERA in 2013 and was released in August of that year to create room on the 40-man roster.

Heston re-signed with the Giants and went 12-9 with a 3.38 ERA for Triple-A Fresno last season, earning a September call-up. He started the final game of the 2014 regular season, giving up three runs in four innings against the Rockies.

He spent the past offseason bulking up — something he said the Giants have been pushing him to do for several off seasons — and it paid off this spring. He impressed the Giants, going 1-0 with 2.40 ERA with 10 strikeouts and one walk in 15 innings.

He was set to open the Triple-A season with Sacramento when Cain’s trip to the DL prompted his call-up to face the Diamondbacks.

Where does it go from here? Well, we’ll get a better idea on Monday.

Opening Day: Seven positives (and a big negative) to take away from Giants’ 5-4 win over Diamondbacks

San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner warms up during the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday, April 6, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner warms up during the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday, April 6, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Opening Day. Everything is exaggerated on Opening Day.

Winners are crowned champions. Losers are dreaming about next year. At least in the eyes of the fans.

For the second consecutive season, the Giants opened the season with a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4. Madison Bumgarner picked up the win as the Giants had to sweat through an eighth inning that almost saw the D-back erase a 5-1 on deficit.

While it is only one game about of a 162, we thought we’d look a seven positives that could be taken from Monday’s opener.

  1. The Giants won. Hey, a win’s a win’s a win, even if it is over the lowly Snakes. We’ll take it, especially on Opening Day.
  2. The Giants punched out 13 hits — nine singles and four doubles. With a shortage of power, especially with Hunter Pence out, the Giants will need to string together hits for rallies.
  3. The top of the order produced: Nori Aoki, Joe Panik and Angel Pagan went a combined 8 for 14 with four runs.
  4. Casey McGehee (2 for 3) got two more hits and three fewer strikeouts (0 to 3) than Pablo Sandoval did on opening day.
  5. Madison Bumgarner was his usual MadBum, but still good enough to limit the Diamondbacks to one run on six hits over seven innings.
  6. They played good defense: No errors, turned two double plays. Another key to the season.
  7. Santiago Casilla looked really good, setting down Arizona’s 1-2-3 hitters in order to record the save in the ninth.

OK so it wasn’t all puppy dog tails and rainbows. Here are a couple of concerns.

The biggest concern came out of something that involved two players who didn’t play Monday. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, both slated to start Games 2 and 3 for the Arizona series, won’t pitch in the series.

Peavy has a sore back. He’s hoping that rest and treatment will allow him to make his next scheduled start this weekend in San Diego.
Cain’s situation is a little more worrisome. Cain was diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm, an injury that will sideline him for two weeks.

The good news is the Giants have some pitching depth in the rotation. Ryan Vogelsong will start in place of Peavy on Tuesday, but the Giants haven’t made a call on who to replace Cain on Wednesday.

One option would be to move up Tim Lincecum, slated to pitch Friday in San Diego. Lincecum only pitched one scoreless inning of relief in the Bay Bridge series, so bringing him back on three days rest shouldn’t be a big concern. However, the idea of Lincecum facing Paul Goldschmidt in Arizona doesn’t warm the heart.

The other option is to put Cain on the DL and call up a pitcher from Triple-A to start in his place. Chris Heston had a solid spring.

Bruce Bochy said he’d prefer to leave Yusmeiro Petit in the bullpen, rather than thin about the bullpen.

Setting the table for San Francisco Giants 2015 spring training

San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum (55) stretches during spring training baseball practice Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum (55) stretches during spring training baseball practice Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The pitchers and catchers reported to camp last week. Now, the rest of the team is reporting.

So I guess it’s time to emerge from my baseball blogging hibernation.

Well, since we last chatted, back in October when the Giants were wrapping up their third World Series championship in five years, the Giants’ offseason could be wrapped up like this.

Imagine last fall’s roster.

Now imagine that the Giants traded away Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse for Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki.

Not thrilled with that trade? Well, that was the Giants’ offseason in a nutshell.

The Giants allowed Sandoval and Morse leave via free agency, gaining a June draft pick for Sandoval. They traded from McGehee and signed Aoki. Then they brought back Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong, Sergio Romo and Travis Ishikawa.

  • The Giants are counting on a full return of Angel Pagan, who missed the back half of 2014 with a back injury.
  • They are hoping Brandon Belt has the breakout year that they hoped from him in 2014 when his season was shortened by first a broken hand and then a concussion.
  • They hope for a full return of Matt Cain, who missed the last half of the season after getting bone chips removed from his elbow.
  • They hope Tim Lincecum can refind his form that makes him a significant contributor to the rotation.
  • And they Joe Panik doesn’t suffer a sophomore slump.

That’s a lot of hoping. But here is out the 2015 roster is shaping up as spring training gets into full gear.

PROJECTED LINEUP

CF Angel Pagan
LF Nori Aoki
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brandon Belt
3B Casey McGehee
2B Joe Panik
SS Brandon Crawford

BENCH

IF Joaquin Arias
IF Ehire Adrianza or Matt Duffy
OF Gregor Blanco
IF-OF Travis Ishikawa
C Hector Sanchez or Andrew Susac

STARTING ROTATION

LH Madison Bumgarner
RH Matt Cain
RH Tim Hudson
RH Jake Peavy
RH Tim Lincecum, RH Ryan Vogelsong or RH Yusmeiro Petit

BULLPEN

RH Santiago Casilla
RH Sergio Romo
LH Jeremy Affeldt
LH Javier Lopez
LH Jean Machi
RH Tim Lincecum, RH Ryan Vogelsong or RH Yusmeiro Petit
RH Tim Lincecum, RH Ryan Vogelsong or RH Yusmeiro Petit

OTHER PLAYERS ON 40-MAN ROSTER

RHP Ray Black
RHP Erik Cordier
RHP Joan Gregorio
RHP Cody Hall
RHP Chris Heston
RHP George Kontos
RHP Derek Law
RHP Hunter Strickland
3B Adam Duvall
OF Daniel Carbonell
OF Jarrett Parker
OF Gary Brown
OF Juan Perez

NON-ROSTER INVITEES

LHP TY Blach, RHP Clayton Blackburn, RHP Brett Bochy, RHP Kyle Crick, RHP Cody Gearin, RHP Juan Gutierrez, LHP Braulio Lara, LHP Adalberto Mejia, LHP Steven Okert, RHP Curtis Patch, RHP Chris Stratton, LHP Nik Turley, C Aramis Garcia, C Guillermo Quiroz, C Ty Ross, IF Christian Arroyo, IF Mitch Delfino, IF Brandon Hicks, IF Kelby Tomlinson, IF Carlos Triunfel, OF Justin Maxwell, OF Mac Williamson

Where does Travis Ishikawa’s walk-off homer rank among Giants’ most memorable postseason blasts?

San Francisco Giants Travis Ishikawa reacts after hitting a walk-off three-run home run during the ninth inning of Game 5 of the National League baseball championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in San Francisco. The Giants won 6-3 to advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco Giants Travis Ishikawa reacts after hitting a walk-off three-run home run during the ninth inning of Game 5 of the National League baseball championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in San Francisco. The Giants won 6-3 to advance to the World Series. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Travis Ishikawa sent the Giants to the National League pennant with his home run of Michael Wacha in Game 5 of the National League championship series.

It conjured up memories of Bobby Thomson’ Shot-Heard-‘Round-The-World in 1951.

But where does it rank among postseason home runs by the San Francisco Giants over the past 25 years.

My Giants fandom is about 40 years old. So I thought back to some of the most memorable postseason home runs the Giants have hit since 1987, their first postseason appearance in 16 years at that time.

I came up with 10. The complete list of blasts is listed at the bottom. So look over these home runs then cast your vote for the most memorable.

 

thrill

Will Clark, grand slam, fourth inning, Game 1 of the 1989 NLCS vs. Chicago

Clark had already hit a solo home run in the third when he came up against in the fourth and the Giants leading 4-3. The Cubs’ Greg Maddux looked as if he might escaped a bases loaded jam when he got Robby Thompson to pop up for the second out. Cubs manager Don Zimmer came out to talk to Maddux. On the on-base cirle with Kevin Mitchell, Clark says he read Maddux’s lips and saw “fastball.” Clark hit the first pitch into the right field bleachers for a grand slam. The Giants went on to win 11-3. And since then, pitchers now cover the mouths with their gloves during conferences on the mound.

barry

Barry Bonds, solo home run, second inning, Game 1 of the 2002 World Series vs. Anaheim

After the Giants went down in order in the first inning, Bonds made the first plate appearance in the World Series in his long career. Instead of pitching around Bonds, as teams had done all season, the Angels’ Jerrod Washburn decided to challenge Bonds. Bonds answered with a long drive into right field that left Washburn shrugging his shoulders. The Giants would go on to win 4-3.

cody

Cody Ross, solo home run, fifth inning, Game 1 of 2010 NLCS vs. Philadelphia

The Giants were facing Roy Halladay, who would go on to win the 2010 NL Cy Young. In his previous start, Hallday became the second pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter when he beat the Reds. Ross was batting eighth in the lineup (BEHIND Mike Fontenot). He took Halladay deep in the third for the Giants’ first hit of the game. The game was tied 1-1 when Ross came up again in the fifth. He sent a 2-0 pitch over the left-field fence for a 2-1 lead the Giants would not relinquish on way to a 4-3 win.

uribe

Juan Uribe, solo home run, eighth inning, Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS vs. Philadelphia

The Giants fell behind early 2-0, but rallied to tie the game in third. Then Jonathan Sanchez got the early hook, and relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner, Javier Lopez, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson kept the Phillies off the board for seven innings. But the game was still tied until Uribe came up against Ryan Madson with two-out in the eight. Uribe took Madson’s first pitch and sent it over the right-field fence for a home run and a 3-2 lead. That would be the final, and the Giants were off to the World Series.

The Top 10 List of Non-Giants Who Should Be on Every Giants Fan's Christmas Card List: No. 4, Cliff Lee

Edgar Renteria, three-run homer, seventh inning, Game 5 of the 2010 World Series vs. Texas

With the Giants one win from a World Series title, Tim Lincecum and the Rangers’ Cliff Lee put up zeroes for six innings. But in the seventh, Cody Ross and Juan Uribe singled. Aubrey Huff bunted them over, but Pat Burrell struck out. Then Renteria, who spent much of the season on the DL with various injuries, got ahead 2-0, then sent a drive into left-center that cleared the fence for a 3-0 lead. The Giants would go on to win 3-1 for their first World Championship since 1954.

busta
Buster Posey, grand slam, fifth inning, Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS vs. Cincinnati

The Giants dropped the first games of the series at home, then found a way to squeak out a 2-1 win in Game 3 on a 10th-inning error. After winning Game 4, they found themselves facing an old nemisis in Mat Latos. The Giants pushed across two runs in the fifth to take a 2-0 lead when the loaded the bases. Posey came up and worked the count to 2-2 before sending the next pitch into the upper deck in left for a 6-0 lead. The Reds rallied back to make it 6-4 before the Giants closed out the series, making Posey’s slam the big hit.

 

San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval hits a solo home run in the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

San Francisco Giants’ Pablo Sandoval hits a solo home run in the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball’s World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Pablo Sandoval, solo home run, fifth inning, Game 1 of the 2012 World Series vs. Detroit

Sandoval had alredy taken Justin Verlander deep twice — a solo shot to center in the first inning and a two-run poke to left in the third — when he came up against Al Albuquerque in the fifth. Then he joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to hit three home runs in World Series game when he took Albuquerque out to center.

craw

Brandon Crawford, grand slam, fourth inning, Wild Card Game vs. Pittsburgh

Crawford became the fourth San Francisco Giant to hit a postseason grand slam when he took Edinson Volquez’s 1-2 pitch out to right to give the Giants a 4-0 lead en rout to an 8-0 win in a wild-card elimination game against the Pirates.

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Belt hits a sacrifice fly during the third inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt hits a sacrifice fly during the third inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Brandon Belt, solo home run, 18th inning, Game 2 of the NLDS vs. Washington

After the Giants rallied in the ninth to score and run and force extra innings and after Yusmeiro Petit’s six shutout innings of relief, Belt led off the 18th and took Tanner Roark’s 3-2 pitch out deep to right. Belt, who missed much of the season with a broken finger and later a concussion, had only recently returned to the lineup to deliver in a big spot. The Giants won 2-1 and took a 2-0 series lead.

NLCS Cardinals Giants Baseball

Travis Ishikawa, three-run home run, ninth inning, Game 5 of the NLCS vs. St. Louis

Since playing a key reserve role on the 2010 Giants World Series team, Ishikawa had been designated for assignment by the Giants, Orioles, Yankees, White Sox and Pirates. He had bounced around the minors and twice contemplated retirement, even as recently as earlier this summer when languishing at Triple-A Fresno. But injuries led to his call-up in July. Even though he had only played 11 games in the outfield in his big league career, Ishikawa started all but one of the Giants’ postseason games this fall in left field. He misplayed a ball hit by John Jay earlier in the game for the Cardinals’ first run. But ready for redemption when he came up with two on and one out in the ninth of a 3-3 tie. Ishikawa sent Michael Wacha’s 2-0 pitch just over the wall in right for the Giants’ first postseason walk-off home run since Bobby Thomson’s blast in 1951.

All of Giants’ postseason home runs since 1987

1987 NLCS vs. StL
Jeffrey Leonard, Game 1
Will Clark, Game 2
Jeffrey Leonard, Game 2
Jeffrey Leonard, Game 3
Harry Spilman, Game 3
Bob Brenly, Game 4
Jeffrey Leonard, Game 4
Robby Thompson Game 4
Kevin Mitchell, Game 5

1989 NLCS vs. Chi
Will Clark (2), Game 1
Kevin Mitchell, Game 1
Kevin Mitchell, Game 2
Robby Thompson, Game 2
Matt Williams, Game 2
Robby Thompson, Game 3
Matt Williams, Game 4

1989 World Sries vs. Oak
Bill Bathe, Game 3
Matt Williams, Game 3
Greg Litton, Game 4
Kevin Mitchell, Game 4

1987 NLDS vs. Fla
Bill Mueller, Game 1
Brian Johnson, Game 2
Jeff Kent (2), Game 3

2000 NLDS vs. NYM
Ellis Burks, Game 1
J.T. Snow, Game 2

2002 NLDS vs. Atl
Rich Aurilia, Game 2
Barry Bonds, Game 2
JT Snow, Game 2
Barry Bonds, Game 3
Rich Aurilia, Game 4
Barry Bonds, Game 5

2002 NLCS vs. StL
David Bell, Game 1
Kenny Lofton, Game 1
Benito Santiago, Game 1
Rich Aurilia (2), Game 2
Barry Bonds, Game 3
Benito Santiago, Game 4

2002 World Series vs. Ana
Barry Bonds, Game 1
Reggie Sanders, Game 1
JT Snow Game 1
David Bell, Game 2
Barry Bonds, Game 2
Jeff Kent, Game 2
Reggie Sanders, Game 2
Rich Aurilia, Game 3
Barry Bonds, Game 3
Rich Aurilia Game 5
Jeff Kent (2), Game 5
Barry Bonds, Game 6
Shawon Dunston, Game 6

2010 NLDS vs. Atl
Pat Burrell, Game 2
Cody Ross, Game 4

2010 NLCS vs. Phi
Cody Ross (2), Game 1
Cody Ross, Game 2
Juan Uribe, Game 6

2010 World Series vs. Texas
Juan Uribe, Game 1
Edgar Renteria, Game 2
Cody Ross, Game 3
Andres Torres, Game 3
Aubrey Huff, Game 4
Buster Posey, Game 4
Edgar Renteria, Game 5

2012 NLDS vs. Cin
Buster Posey, Game 1
Gregor Blanco, Game 4
Angel Pagan, Game 4
Pablo Sandoval, Game 4
Buster Posey, Game 5

2012 NLCS vs. StL
Angel Pagan, Game 2
Hunter Pence, Game 4
Pablo Sandoval, Game 4
Pablo Sandoval, Game 5
Brandon Belt, Game 7

2012 World Series vs. Det
Pablo Sandoval (3), Game 1
Buster Posey, Game 4

2014 Wild Card vs. Pit
Brandon Crawford

2014 NLDS vs. Was
Brandon Belt, Game 2

2014 NLCS
Joe Panik, Game 5
Mike Morse, Game 5
Travis Ishikawa, Game 5

Giants’ Bruce Bochy needs to take new approach with Hunter Strickland

St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Adams hits a home run during the eighth inning in Game 2 of the National League baseball championship series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Adams hits a home run during the eighth inning in Game 2 of the National League baseball championship series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Hunter Strickland’s journey to baseball’s biggest stage is an interesting one.

When the Giants called him up in September, some folks were christening Strickland as the Giants’ new “closer of the future,” replacing the recently traded Heath Hembree.

Strickland was big. He threw hard (like 100 mph hard) and he threw strikes.

After a particularly impressive save outing of the 13th inning win over the Dodgers, even Giants closer Santiago Casilla was calling Strickland the Giants’ new closer.

Hunter Strickland

Hunter Strickland

Well, not so fast.

Before we document Strickland’s issue, let’s first look at his past.

Drafted in the 18th round of the 2007 draft, Strickland signed with the Red Sox right out of high school in Georgia.

In his days with the Red Sox, his fastball was reported to top out at 94 mph and be clocked regularly in the upper 80s to low 90s.

He had mixed results as a starting pitcher when he was traded in 2009 to the Pirates, who regarded him as a sleeper prospect.

After never rising abov high A-ball, he missed all of 2011 with shoulder problems.

He returned in 2012 and remained a starter for the Pirates’ A-ball team. He was promoted to Double-A midseason and moved to the bullpen.

He was added to the Pirates’ 40-man roster in November 2012, but designated for assignment at the end of spring training the following March. The Giants claimed him and sent him to Class A San Jose.

He was 1-0 with 0.86 ERA in 20 relief appearances before blowing out his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery in June. The Giants released him in July, but re-signed him to a minor-league deal in August.

He was back and throwing hard in spring training. He was sent to Double-A Richmond, where he was 1-1 with 2.02 ERA in 35.2 innings with 48 strikeouts and four walks when the Giants called him up in September when rosters expanded.

Now 26, Strickland made nine appearances in September, throwing 7 innings, giving up no runs on five hits with nine strikeouts and no walks. Right-handers hit .200 off him (3 for 15), as did lefties (2 for 10, 2B). However, righties struck out seven times while lefties whiffed just twice.

But in the postseason a serious hole has been exposed in Strickland.

In the postseason, right-handed batters are 1 for 10 with a walk and three strikeouts. Pretty good.

But against left-handers, well….

Lefties are 4 for 7 with four home runs and two strikeouts.

In the playoffs, manager Bruce Bochy has been using Strickland like a new toy, rolling him out in high-stress situations or to pitch a full inning. One of the homers Strickland gave up tied the game. The other, on Sunday night, gave the opponents the lead.

Maybe he needs to take another approach.

On Sunday, Bochy’s options were limited. Having exhausted his two lefties already, he brought in Strickland to face righty Matt Holiday to end the seventh. Strickland picked off Kolten Wong instead.

With the game tied, Bochy didn’t want to his pen again, so he stuck with Strickland. Strickland got Holliday out, then came lefty Matt Adams.

Strickland throws hard, but straight. And this is not Double-A. Big-league hitters can hit anything straight, even if it’s approaching 100 mph.

Against Adams, Strickland made a bad choice or bad pitch.

Unlike against the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, when Strickland fell behind 2-1 and 3-1, Strikland got ahead
Adams 1-2, dropping in a pair of sliders.

Strickland’s next pitch should have been OUT of the strike zone. Up high or outside. Maybe both. Show him the fastball. If he chases, great. If not, you set him up for another slider. If you walk him, big whoop. Go after righties Jhonny Peralta and Tony Cruz.

Instead he shot one straight down the middle, and Adams took him deep (SEE ABOVE PHOTO).

Strickland has to be smarter.

Bochy needs to be smarter.

If the matchup is right, go to Strickland. If not, find another option.

Play to his strengths. This is not the right time for on-the-job training.

San Francisco Giants 2014 motto must be: “Somehow, Someway”

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Belt hits a sacrifice fly during the third inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt hits a sacrifice fly during the third inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The 2014 San Francisco Giants’ motto should be: “Somehow, Someway.”

The Giants’ inexplicable postseason run continued Saturday with a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

The Giants again did not tear the ball of the cover. They did manage eight hits, but here is how they scored their three runs.

St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Carpenter can't catch an RBI single by San Francisco Giants' Travis Ishikawa during the second inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter can’t catch an RBI single by San Francisco Giants’ Travis Ishikawa during the second inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • A ducksnort bloop single off the Magic Wandoo of Travis Ishikawa.
  • An error.
  • A sacrifice fly.
St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Carpenter can't catch a ball hit by San Francisco Giants' Gregor Blanco as the Giants' Brandon Belt advances during the second inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter can’t catch a ball hit by San Francisco Giants’ Gregor Blanco as the Giants’ Brandon Belt advances during the second inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

And the Giants’ two-run “rally” in the second inning was started on a double by Pablo Sandoval that originally landed in the glove of Cardinals right fielder Randal Grichuk, but popped out after Grichuk hit the wall and then the ground.

The Giants’ third-inning run was aided when second baseman Kolten Wong failed to cleanly field a potential double-play ball off the bat of Hunter Pence. The Cardinals only got one out on the play, so no error, but it made Brandon Belt’s subsequent sacrifice fly possible.

 

This follows the Giants’ final four runs scored in the Division Series against the Nationals, which were scored on …

  • A wild pitch.
  • A groundout.
  • A walk.
  • A sacrifice fly.

The Giants even caught a break when Madison Bumgarner appeared to balk in a run in the seventh inning. But the umpires didn’t call a balk, probably because only the Giants are allowed to score a run on a balk.

It’s hard to figure.

The Giants went 15-61 in games in which they scored three runs or fewer. They were 73-13 when scoring four runs or more, second best in the NL this season (The Nationals had the best mark).

From June 3 to Aug. 25, the Giants went 1-35 in games in which they scored three runs or fewer.

But in the postseason, the Giants are now 4-1 in games in which they score three runs or fewer.

They have scored 12 runs total in their last five postseason games. Yet they find themselves with a 1-0 lead in the NLCS.

After going 5 for 40 (.125) with runners in scoring position in the series with the Nationals, the Giants added a 2-for-11 night with RISP on Saturday. And one of those hits didn’t score a run.

But here’s one stat to note. In the Division Series, the Giants struck out the fewest times of the four NL teams in the LDS round. And it’s not even close. The Nationals struck out 39 times in 172 plate appearances, the Cardinals struck out 37 times in 138 PAs, the Dodgers stuck out 36 times in 155 PAs and the Giants struck out 24 in 175 PAs.

And as the old adage goes “Good things happen when you put the ball in play.”

The other stat is the more obvious one: the pitching.

Giants pitching has an 1.14 ERA in the postseason.

The starting pitching has been even better: 0.64 ERA.

At some point, you have to expect the Giants bats to come alive.

Perhaps that will come in Game 2 on Sunday.

Some fans need fresh perspective on San Francisco Giants making the 2014 postseason

San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence, center, rallies the crowd in a post-game cheer for the postseason, after the Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 9-3 in a baseball game in San Francisco, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence, center, rallies the crowd in a post-game cheer for the postseason, after the Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 9-3 in a baseball game in San Francisco, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The San Francisco Giants are back in the postseason, for the third time in five years.

Now I’ve been a Giants fan for 40 years. And this is only the second tim in that four-decade span that the Giants have made the postseason three times in five years (they made it three times in four years in 2000, 2002 and 2003).

And yet, there are a lot of Giants who are not excited about the fact the Giants are in the postseason. Not sure why.

Maybe it’s because the Giants didn’t win the NL West.

Maybe it’s because making the playoffs just means a one-game elimination situation.

Maybe it’s because the Giants blew a 9.5-game division lead.

Maybe it’s because the Giants were SOOOOO bad in June and July.

Maybe it’s because the Giants didn’t clinch a playoff berth by winning a game. Instead, they clinched because of a Brewers loss that followed five Giants losses over six games.

Maybe it’s because injuries have left the Giants’ prospects in the postseason so tenuous.

Who know. But really, I think that some Giant fans need a fresh prospective.

Let’s think back to spring training in March. What would you think of the Giants’ chances of making the postseason if the following things came true?

  • Matt Cain’s season would be over by the All-Star break.
  • Tim Lincecum’s final start would happen on Aug. 23.
  • Angel Pagan would spend two months on the DL and be limited to 96 games.
  • Marco Scutaro would be a non-factor in 2014.
  • Brandon Belt would miss 102 games and hit .241 in the games he did play in.
  • Michael Morse would hit just two home runs after the All-Star break and miss nearly the entire month of September.
  • Sergio Romo would lose his closer’s job in June and never regain it.
  • Brandon Crawford would make a career-high 21 errors.
  • The only player the Giants would acquire by trade is a pitcher who was 1-9 with 4.72 ERA.

Given those facts, what would you have thought the Giants would have finished in 2014.

70-92?

76-86? (Last year’s record).

81-81? I would think that a winning season would have been considered a stretch, given the above facts.

Yet, despite ALL of those hurdles, the Giants finished 88-74 and they are in the playoffs, sending their best pitcher to the mound to win an elimination game.

We’ll remind you the Giants won six consecutive elimination games on their way to the 2012 world championship.

So while there may be a lot of reasons to think the Giants won’t go far this October, there is really one reason to think they will.

They’re the Giants.

And if you need another reason to believe that, well, go root for the A’s.

No matter what White Sox — or Andrew Baggarly — say, San Francisco Giants did not beat Chicago White Sox on a ‘technicality’

Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, right, reaches to tag San Francisco Giants' Gregor Blanco, who was originally ruled out at home but then ruled safe after review, during the seventh inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, right, reaches to tag San Francisco Giants’ Gregor Blanco, who was originally ruled out at home but then ruled safe after review, during the seventh inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

During last offseason, Major League Baseball wanted to implement a rule that would prevent home-plate collisions. The rule would be simple and straightforward.

The catcher is not allowed to block the plate. The runner is not allowed to blow up the catcher. The only time home-plate collisions would happen was when the flight of the ball drew the catcher into the runner’s path, making any collision accidental and unavoidable.

But that wasn’t good enough for old-school catchers and managers. They said “How can we teach our catchers how not to block the plate in just six weeks of spring training when that’s how they’ve been playing the position forever (forever meaning in their pro careers, because blocking the plate was not part of the game they played in Little League, high school or college)?”

So MLB waffled a bit, adding a line into the new rule that catchers could still block the plate, if they had possession of the ball. And a can of worms was opened.

Given that sliver of light, old-school managers did not worry about teaching their catchers about where best to position themselves to be in compliance with the new rule. They simply told their catchers to play the position as they have always played it, and make MLB rule that they were doing it incorrectly.

In the first half of the season, MLB gave catchers the benefit of the doubt. The onus was on the runner to avoid contact. Catchers kept blocking the plate like they always had.

But then runners started to complain. Was there a new rule or wasn’t there one? And MLB started to listen. So after the All-Star break, we started to see a swing in how these plays were being ruled on replay.

If the catcher was in the runners path without the ball and didn’t give the runner a path to the plate, the runner would be ruled safe. It didn’t matter how far ahead of the runner that the ball arrived to the plate.

In short, if teams weren’t going to get their catchers to position themselves correctly in compliance with the new rule, MLB was going to do it for them.

And if you’re on the wrong end of one of these calls, you don’t like it. Just like White Sox manager Robin Ventura found himself in when umpires overturned a call in which the Giants’ Gregor Blanco was thrown out at the plate in the seventh inning on Tuesday.

The play resulted in a 1-1 tie, and the Giants went on to score six more times in the inning en route to a 7-1 win. And Ventura was livid.

“You look at the spirit of the rule of what they’re trying to do and what it’s actually doing, and it’s a joke,” said Ventura, who was ejected for arguing and kicking dirt on the plate after a review that lasted nearly five minutes. “We obviously disagreed with it, and we got hosed today.”

Ventura continued: “They don’t take into consideration that the guy was out by a longshot.”

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! At what point did Ventura start to disagree with this rule. If you rewind back to Tuesday night’s game, Ventura found himself on the opposite end of a similar play.

In the 10th inning, Chicago’s Jordan Danks were ruled out at the plate on a tag by Buster Posey. Ventura came out to have the play to review to see if Posey blocked Danks’ path to the plate, even though Danks was out by a longshot.

One problem, however. The review showed that Posey didn’t block the plate, that he did leave Danks a pathway to the plate.

And why is this? Well, it’s because that’s how the Giants have taught their catchers to position themselves on plays on the plate. They instruct their catchers to get out IN FRONT OF home plate, between home plate and the pitchers mound, field the throw, then apply a sweep tag. That’s what Posey did.

Now fast-forward to Wednesday afternoon. White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers did not get out in front of home plate. He stood right over it. And when he went to field the throw from first baseman Jose Abreu, Flowers left leg clearly blocked off the entire plate from the oncoming Blanco. Flowers even admitted this much, but said that’s not the point.

Except it IS the point.

Some have said the Giants won Wednesday on a “technicality” including CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly, who called the ruling “lasso-sized legal loophole.”

This is what Flowers said: “I don’t think anybody has an understanding of this rule,. That’s not the purpose of this rule. The purpose of this rule is to prevent a situation like Posey had. It’s not when a guy is out by 30 feet. ‘Oh, he blocked the plate?’ That had no impact on him being safe or out. And there’s no clarification on that.”

There. Flowers just proved my point, even if he didn’t intend to, when he said “this rule is to prevent a situation like Posey had. It’s not when a guy is out by 30 feet.”

Flowers was referring to the Scott Cousins play — I call it the Cousins play because the responsibility for that collision was completely on Cousins — that prematurely Posey’s season in May 2011.

Here are three irrefutable points about the Cousins/Posey play.

  • Posey was NOT blocking the plate on that play.
  • Posey DID leave Cousins a lane to the plate.
  • Cousins did believe he would be out by 30 feet. He felt that from where right fielder Nate Schierholtz was throwing the ball, Cousins would be out easily. His only recourse was to try to dislodge the ball from Posey. As it turned out, Posey got caught with a short hop that he didn’t handle cleanly.

And that’s the point of the new rule. MLB wants catchers to leave runners a lane, so they don’t feel like their only course of action is collide with the catcher. And leaving a lane is all determined by where the catcher sets up to receive the throw.

So here’s another question for Flowers. If Blanco was going to be out by a longshot, why was Flowers even blocking the plate in the first place?

“I had two seconds to get from behind home plate to catch (and) make a tag, and I’m supposed to be able to make sure I don’t block the plate, catch the ball and make the tag, all within two seconds on an infield dribbler?” Flowers said. “That’s not realistic. That play doesn’t make any sense.”

But it is realistic, if it’s a play that you have been trained on doing correctly. Buster Posey had time to do it correctly Tuesday night because he’s been trained to do that. Flowers, likely because the White Sox have not made it a priority, appeared as if he hasn’t been trained on this.

So MLB gave him, and the White Sox, a valuable lesson. And they got what they deserved.

And that’s not a technicality.

Instead of trading prospects, San Francisco Giants call up a pair from Double-A for playoff push

Matt Duffy

Matt Duffy

When Matt Duffy and Jarrett Parker were told Thursday not to board the Richmond Flying Squirrels team bus for Altoona, they thought that they had been traded as part of a deadline deal.

That would be completely logical.

Instead, both Class AA players were getting promoted to the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants made no deadline deals Thursday to go with the acquisition of Jake Peavy. Instead, the Giants will make a playoff push with the players they have.

That started Friday, when Duffy, an infielder, and Parker, an outfielder, were called up to fill the roster spots vacated when second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Tyler Colvin were designated for assignment.

It was the first time since August of 2011 that the Giants have promoted a player midseason from Double-A. Back then it was pitcher Erik Surkamp.

A position player had not been called up from Double-A since Darren Ford earned a September call-up in 2010 as used strictly as a pinch-runner and defender.

The Giants are expecting Duffy and Parker to contribute more than that.

As for Duffy, the move is intriguing. Duffy, drafted as a shortstop, was an 18th-round pick out of Long Beach State in 2012. He has hit at every level: .247/.361 OBP in shortseason A Salem-Keizer in 2012, .307/.405 for Low-A Augusta in 2013, .292/.342 in high-A San Jose in 2013.

He’s hitting .332 with .398 OBP for Double-A Richmond in a pitcher-friendly Eastern League. He led Richmond in hitting by a long shot. And through his minor-league career, he’s walked about as much as he has struck out.

Jarrett Parker is another story. Parker, a second-round pick in 2010, has struggled at the start of every season in the minors, then recovered toward respectability. He hit .253 for San Jose in 2011, .247 for San Jose in 2012, .245 for Richmond in 2013 and .275 with 12 HRs and 58 RBI in 99 games for Richmond this year.

But he’s a big-time swing-and-miss guy: 144 Ks in 127 games in 2011, 175 Ks in 122 games in 2012, 161 Ks in 131 games in 2013, and 103 Ks already in 99 games in 2014.

But he may not be with the club for long. Brandon Belt is expected to be activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list this weekend. When that happens, look for Parker to return to Richmond.

Even if the Giants opt to jettison Travis Ishikawa when Belt returns, look to Parker to get a return bus trip to Richmond by next week when Angel Pagan is expected back from the DL.

Pagan played in an Arizona Rookie League game Friday night, and looked good. Barring setbacks, Pagan could return to the Giants when they arrive in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

But Duffy, as one of two middle infield reserves — along with Joaquin Arias — figures to stick around longer. At least until Ehire Adrianza comes off the disabled list. But that likely won’t happen until the Giants return from this 10-game road trip.

As for Uggla and Colvin, their stints with the Giants may not be over. If both players clear waivers, and they should (Uggla for sure), they could be sent to Fresno, if they accept the assignment.

Report: San Francisco Giants acquire Jake Peavy, which can’t be good news

Boston Red Sox's Jake Peavy, left, delivers a pitch to Houston Astros' Jose Altuve in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Boston Red Sox’s Jake Peavy, left, delivers a pitch to Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

The Associated Press reported Saturday that the San Francisco Giants are finalizing a deal to bring veteran pitcher Jake Peavy to the Giants.

Details are still being worked out, according to the report. But the Red Sox will reportedly get minor league pitchers Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar.

The details being worked out likely involve money and other provisions. Peavy is making $14.5 million this season with the Red Sox, meaning he is still owed about $6 million. He has a player option of $15 million for 2015, but he is unlikely to reach the milestones to make that option vest. He would basically have to double his current innings output of 124 innings this season to allow that option to kick in.

Normally when Giants GM Brian Sabaen makes these midseason deals, I reserved judgment, preferring to defer to his better judgment.

The Giants have made several midseason deals over the past few years. Not all of the deals have worked out as the Giants hoped, but at least the Giants didn’t have to give up much to get them.

I wrote about this earlier, listing the prospects the Giants have given up in midseason deals the past five years. Really, only Zack Wheeler has amounted to anything, and the jury is still out on him.

But I’m going to say now that I don’t like this deal. To me, it represents of harbinger of bad news.

And here’s why.

CAIN SITUATION MUST BE BAD: When Matt Cain went on the disabled list after the All-Star break, manager Bruce Bochy said Cain could be down “one week, two weeks …. eight weeks. We just don’t know.” The Giants have been cagy with health reports of their players. So when they say they don’t know, we have to conclude they at least suspect. And the consumation of this deal must indicate they suspect that Cain may not return this season.

THE PRICE WAS TOO HIGH: In giving up Escobar and Hembree, the Giants parted with their No. 2 and No. 11 prospects, according to MLB.com’s preseason list of prospects. Both pitchers have appeared to be on the fast track to the majors in recent spring trainings. Escobar, 22, was thought to be in position to get a call-up this season, but he’s had a rough season in Triple-A. He’s 3-8 with 5.11 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 111 innings at Fresno. Hembree, 25, was thought to be the Giants “closer of the future” a couple of springs ago. But this season represents his third at the Triple-A level. He is 1-3 with 3.89 ERA, 18 saves and 46 strikeouts in 39.1 innings this season with Fresno. He was recently named a PCL All-Star. He did have a brief stint with the Giants in 2013, throwing 7.2 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts. So I might have been OK giving up one of these two pitchers, along with some lower-level prospects, for Peavy. But giving up both?

THIS AIN’T THE SAME JAKE PEAVY: This has not been a good season for Peavy, 33, in Boston. He’s 1-9 with 4.72 ERA in 20 starts. He leads the American League in home runs allowed with 20. Here are most stats for 2014 to sample

  • His ERA+ of 83 is the lowest of his big-league career.
    His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 4.81 is his highest since his second big-league season in 2003 when he was 22.
    His WHIP of 1.427 is the highest of his career.
    His Hit Allowed Rate of 9.5 is the second highest of his career.
    His HR Allowed Rate of 1.5 is the highest of his career.
    His Walk Rate of 3.3 is his highest since 2002.
    His Strikeout Rate of 7.3 is his lowest since 2002.

Looking for good news?

The Giants are clearly hoping that a return to the National League, where he hasn’t pitched since 2009, will do Peavy good. His four starts against NL teams this season have all been quality starts.

They are also hoping that pitching in AT&T Park will provide better results than pitching in Fenway.

Well, Peavy is 14-2 with 2.21 ERA against the Dodgers in his career also looked good to the Giants. Although it should be pointed out that most of those starts occurred in 2009 or earlier when Peavy was a different pitcher and the Dodgers were a different team. Peavy did limit the Dodgers to one run on three hits in a complete game win in Dodger Stadium last August.

And for good news, Peavy make be on the mound when the Giants face the Dodgers on Sunday night, instead of Yusmeiro Petit.

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