June 2012

Cincinnati Reds 5, San Francisco Giants 1: Shutout streak ends … quickly

BOX SCORE

For the record, the San Francisco Giants’ shutout streak lasted 36 innings, 60 feet, five inches.

The Reds’ Zach Cozart smacked the first pitch of the game from Matt Cain into the left-field bleachers, ending the Giants’ streak of four consecutive shutouts.

The Reds would go on to add two more runs in the inning as Matt Cain struggled in his first home start since his perfect game on June 6.

He would later give up a home run to Reds pitcher Mike Leake, the first home run Cain has allowed to an opposing pitcher in his career. Cain finished with five earned runs on 11 hits and one walk in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven.

“I’m just sad I didn’t keep it going,” Cain said. “I wanted to follow (Madison Bumgarner’s gem) up, and I didn’t do that.”

The Giants got their hits on Leake, smacking out nine hits. But they went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

But there are some silver linings in the loss:

  • Pablo Sandoval helped the Giants avert their fourth shutout loss of the season — and first to a National League club — with his one-out home run to right in the ninth inning. It was Sandoval’s first home run since coming off the disabled list earlier this month.
  • While the Giants avoided a shutout, the Dodgers did not, losing 9-0 to the Mets. So the Giants retained their one-game lead in the NL West.

UP NEXT

Barry Zito tries to build off his outstanding start on Monday when San Francisco faces Giant-villain Mat Latos in a 1:05 p.m. start Saturday.

National League All-Star team, if MoreSplashHits were picking reserves, pitchers

The All-Star starters and reserves will be announced on Sunday at 10 a.m. on TBS. So that gives us a couple of days to consider who should be on the team.

So if MoreSplashHits were in Tony LaRussa’s position — and in a way we are; neither one of us is managing in the bigs this season — this is how we could draw up the National League All-Star.

We’re going to start with assuming that all the players who were leading in All-Star voting as of Tuesday will hold on to win. That’s no sure thing because more than 11 million online votes were cast, so close balloting could easily win.

But we’ll use Tuesday’s voting as a starting point, and we’ll add some caveats later. We’re not saying this SHOULD be the starting lineup. Actually, I guess we are. Because we’ve always believed if players get the votes, they should start. That’s the way the All-Star Game works.

The National League selects 25 reserves (including pitchers). We’re going with the past formula of selecting 12 position players and 13 pitchers.

STARTING LINEUP

(Based on leaders in most recent balloting results)

  • 1B — Joey Votto, Reds
  • 2B — Dan Uggla, Braves
  • SS — Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
  • 3B — David Wright, Mets
  • C — Buster Posey, Giants
  • OF — Matt Kemp, Dodgers
  • OF — Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
  • OF — Ryan Braun, Brewers

RESERVE POSITION PLAYERS

1B — Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks (11 HR, 35 RBI, .299) — First base is a little lean in the NL, but Goldschmidt is clearly the best of what is left. Heating up after a slow start.

2B — Jose Altuve, Astros (5 HR, 23 RBI, .309) — Altuve will be the Astros’ lone representative on this team. But that’s not why is on the list. He’s earned his spot, leading all 2B in hitting.

2B — Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks (11 HR, 38 RBI, .302) — Hill made a big late push to make his way on this team. But two cycles in one season is good enough for us.

SS — Starlin Castro, Cubs (6 HR, 39 RBI, .297) — Whenever he remembers how many outs there are, Castro has been the best shortstop in the league.

3B — Chase Headley, Padres (8 HR, 38 RBI, .272) — Headley having decent, but not necessarily All-Star season. But the Padres need a representative and we can’t find another.

C — Carlos Ruiz, Phillies (11 HR, 43 RBI, .356) — Chooch is a no-brainer.

C — Yadier Molina, Cardinals (12 HR, 44 RBI, .311) — St. Louis fans are grumpy about Molina being behind Posey in the voting. But their seasons are VERY similar and Posey plays in the tougher park. Still, Molina’s earned a spot.

OF — Melky Cabrera, Giants (7 HR, 38 RBI, .355) — The Melkman is another no-brainer, on his way to another 200-hit season.

OF — Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (15 HR, 51 RBI, .344) — The Pirates knew what they were doing when they locked up McCutchen long term.

OF — Michael Bourn, Braves (7 HR, 28 RBI, .306) — Bourn is a run-scoring machine atop the Braves’ lineup.

OF — Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (17 HR, 58 RBI, .338) — His home/road splits aren’t great, but his overall numbers are clearly All-Star worthy.

OF — Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins (17 HR, 47 RBI, .278) — The Marlins need a representative and the power-hitting Stanton is certainly deserving.

PITCHERS

SP — R.A. Dickey, Mets (11-1, 2.31 ERA) — Really can’t deny Dickey a spot.

SP — Matt Cain, Giants (9-2, 2.27 ERA) — Mr. Perfecto definitely makes the team.

SP — James McDonald, Pirates (7-3, 2.44 ERA) — Do you think the Dodgers want him back?

SP — Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (9-2, 2.60 ERA) — Got to take the NL’s K leader.

SP — Gio Gonzalez, Nationals (10-3, 2.78 ERA) — Better earlier than lately but still good enough to make team.

SP — Johnny Cueto, Reds (9-4, 2.26 ERA) — Cueto has finally figured it out. Been great since last All-Star break.

SP — Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (7-3, 2.23 ERA) — Made All-Star team last year because his skipper was manager. Now, he makes it no matter who is managing.

SP — Wade Miley, Diamondbacks (9-3, 2.19 ERA) — Not in the rotation to start the season, now he’s the Snakes’ ace

SP — Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (5-4, 2.74 ERA) — More fallible this year than last, but still really good. Record is not his fault. Basically, this boiled down to the better Dodgers: Kershaw or Chris Capuano. Over past 12 months, Kershaw has better resume.

RP — Craig Kimbrel, Braves (0-1, 1.55 ERA, 22 saves) — League-leader in saves.

RP — Sergio Romo, Giants (2-1, 0.83 ERA, 4 saves) — Sexy pick is to select teammate Santiago Casilla, but Romo has been flat-out filthy. Or should I say Romolicious.

RP — Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (3-0, 2.10 ERA, 20 saves) — Big part of the Pirates’ surprise season.

RP — Aroldis Chapman, Reds (4-4, 1.98 ERA, 9 saves) — Chapman brings the big heat and tiny WHIP (0.74)

VOTING CAVAETS

A quick look at close votes

  • OF: If Cabrera beats out Braun, Braun still makes roster as Brewers’ representative.
  • C: If Molina beats Posey, Posey still makes the team as a reserve. Gotta have three catchers.
  • 3B: If Pablo Sandoval beats out Wright, Wright makes the team as a reserve. However, that would cost Aaron Hill his spot in a tough-luck decision.

San Francisco Giants 5, Cincinnati Reds 0: OK, Matt Cain, what can you do?

BOX SCORE

Two weeks ago, Matt Cain set Giants franchise history by throwing the first perfect game in team history.

Not to be outdone, the other four pitchers on the staff have teamed up to match Cain’s accomplishment in one.

Led by outstanding starting performances by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Linecum and Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have posted four consecutive shutouts for the first time in franchise history.

It’s the first since the 1995 Orioles that a team has posted four consecutive shutouts.

On Monday, it was Zito, George Kontos and Shane Loux shutting out the Dodgers 8-0.

On Tuesday, it was Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla shutting out the Dodgers 2-0

On Wednesday, it was Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo shutting out the Dodgers 3-0.

On Thursday, it was all Bumgarner in a 5-0 win over the Reds.

Bumgarner took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and finished with a one-hitter with two walks and eight strikeouts.

The streak of 36 consecutive shutout innings set a San Francisco Giants record of 35 set back in 1960.

It’s the third one-hitter or better the Giants pitchers have thrown this season.

They have 10 shutouts on the season — the last four and five of the last six home games.

  • April 9 — 7-0 at Colorado (Zito CG)
  • April 15 — 5-0 vs. Pittsburgh (Cain CG)
  • April 18 — 1-0 (11) vs. Philadelphia (Cain start)
  • May 19 — 4-0 vs. Oakland (Vogelsong start)
  • June 3 — 2-0 vs. Chicago Cubs (Zito start)
  • June 13 — 10-0 vs. Houston (Cain CG)
  • June 25 — 8-0 vs. L.A. Dodgers (Zito start)
  • June 26 — 2-0 vs. L.A. Dodgers (Vogelsong start)
  • June 27 — 3-0 vs. L.A. Dodgers (Lincecum start)
  • June 28 — 5-0 vs. Cincinnati (Bumgarner CG)

The 10 shutouts tie the Giants with the Angels for the most in the majors this season. The Giants lead the National League by a significant margin. The Mets have eight, then the Diamondbacks have five. Eight other teams have four.

And let’s not forget about the offense. All nine Giants who played Thursday reached safely as the Giants drew six walks and had nine hits. Even Bumgarner collected a hit. Melky Cabrera went 2 for 2 with two walks.

Oh, and Thursday’s win put the Giants all alone in first place in the NL West for the first time all season.

Good times, Giants fans, good times.

UP NEXT

Cain takes the hill against Mike Leake as the Giants and Reds meet at 7:15 p.m. Friday.

San Francisco Giants 3, Los Angeles Dodgers 0: Giants beat L.A., beat L.A. beat L.A.

BOX SCORE

Where do we start?

  • The Giants beat the Dodgers 3-0 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep. That in itself is cause of celebration. But it doesn’t stop there.
  • The three-game sweep allowed the Giants to move into a first-place tie with the Dodgers in the NL West, the first time all season the Giants have been in first place.
  • It’s the first time the Giants have posted three consecutive shutouts since 1988.
  • It’s the first time the Giants have swept a three-game series all by shutouts since 1954.
  • It’s the first time the Giants have ever swept the Dodgers with three shutouts.
  • It’s the first time the Los Angeles Dodgers have been swept via three shutouts in their history.
  • And maybe most importantly, the Freak is back.

Lincecum posted his first victory since April 28, throwing seven innings, giving up four hits and two walks. He struck out eight in a 115-pitch outing.

Combined with his last start in Oakland, Lincecum has thrown 12 consecutive scoreless innings.

The closest the Dodgers came to scoring was in the third inning, when Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley doubled with one out. Billingsley took third on a wild pitch, the first (and only) time in the series that the Dodgers got a runner to third.

Lincecum bounced another pitch that got away from catcher Hector Sanchez. But Sanchez was able to get to the ball and throw to Lincecum covering home, who tagged out Billingsley trying to score.

Clearly, the Dodgers are scuffling on offense right now. But combined with his previous start, it was the kind of start that Lincecum can give confidence going forward.

Lincecum worked himself out of trouble a few times Wednesday. He got an inning-ending double play in the first inning. There was the Billingsley play in the third.

In the seventh, the Dodgers had runners on first and second and one out. Manager Bruce Bochy came out, and it looked like Lincecum might be done. But Bochy left him in, and the Freak got Tony Gwynn Jr. to fly to center and then he struck out Juan Uribe to end the inning.

A Freaky Finish.

Lincecum’s next start will come on Tuesday in Washington vs. the Nationals. Then he should get another start before the All-Star break in Pittsburgh.

UP NEXT

Look for another pitchers’ duel Thursday as the Reds come into town for a four-game series. Madison Bumgarner faces Johnny Cueto for a 7:15 p.m. start Thursday.

San Francisco Giants 2, Los Angeles Dodgers 0: All-Star night for Giants

BOX SCORE

Melky Cabrera showed why he should be an All-Star.

Cabrera belted a solo home run in the fourth inning, and that’s all the Giants would need as they shut out the Dodgers for the second consecutive night. It’s the first time since 1987 the Giants have posted back-to-back shutouts against the Dodgers.

Earlier Tuesday, it was announced that Cabrera slipped out of the No. 3 outfield spot in the latest All-Star voting.

Ryan Braun has 3,168,617 votes, just 122,733 votes ahead of Cabrera, the closest margin between two All-Star candidates for a starting spot.

Buster Posey continues to lead at the catcher spot with 3,335,982 votes, 216,452 votes ahead of the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina.

At third base, David Wright (2,687,818) leads the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval by 464,549.

Posey went 2 for 4 with a double in the Giants’ win Tuesday, and Sandoval 1 for 4 with a double and an RBI.

Cabrera is lock to be selected to the NL All-Star team as a reserve if he doesn’t win the voting. Posey also stands a good chance, given that usually three catchers are picked. And with third base being a bit thin this season in the NL, there’s a chance Sandoval could earn a selection.

The Giants were on the road when in-stadium balloting ended last Friday. They are home now, but all the voting is being done online through 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

But Giant fans have always been electronically savvy, so maybe that can swing the vote. MoreSplashHits has voted 50 times (25 times on two different emails).

San Francisco Giants 8, Los Angeles Dodgers 0: Go figure, Giants win

BOX SCORE

Baseball is a funny game.

Fresh off a tough loss Sunday in Oakland — wasting an outstanding performacne from Matt Cain — the Giant fans entered Monday matchup with the Dodgers with low expectations with Barry Zito on the mound.

So what does Zito do? He shut out the Dodgers on three hits over seven innings of work, leading to an 8-0 victory that pulled the Giants within two game of first place.

Even Zito admitted that he wasn’t facing the same Dodgers lineup that led L.A. to a strong start. Yet, these are games the Giants need to win.

“They’re pretty banged up over there, and we’ve got to capitalize on that,” he said.

We mentioned last week that every time the Giants lose a game started by Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong, they need to win a game started by Zito and Tim Lincecum.

Giants fans are hoping more wins will come in Freak starts, but they are never sure about Zito.

But the Giants lost to the Angels when Vogelsong started Wednesday, then won a Lincecum start Friday in Oakland. They lost a Cain start Sunday, then won a Zito a start Tuesday.

Now Vogelsong returns to the mound to face off with Clayton Kershaw in what figures to be a low scoring game. The Giants beat Kershaw the last time they faced him in L.A. Let’s see if they can make it two in a row.

Oakland A’s 4, San Francisco Giants 2: Two out of three ain’t bad

BOX SCORE

Well, phooey.

That’s about all you can say about Sunday’s series finale in Oakland.

While it would have been great to complete the sweep heading into the series with the Dodgers. But the Giants won two of three, and ultimately that’s the goal of every series … to win it.

The Giants looked like they might get that sweep when they led 2-1 in the ninth after a stellar performance from Matt Cain.

But Santiago Casilla came in, gave up two singles to go with two strikeouts before giving up a three-run homer to rookie Derek Norris on a 3-2 pitch.

One pitch away from a sweep. Instead, it’s a loss.

Sure, you can make the argument that Bruce Bochy should have considered other options in the ninth than Santiago Casilla, who had pitched in each of the previous two nights and not completely effectively.

Actually MoreSplashHits would argue that Casilla should not have been used to protect a three-run lead with two out in the ninth on Saturday. Just because a situation becomes a save situation according to the rules doesn’t mean you automatically bring in your closer. Saturday’s game should have been finished off by committee, which eventually it was, and given Casilla day off. It would have left him fresher for Sunday.

Now, having pitched in three consecutive days, Casilla will not be available Monday against the Dodgers. Of course, with Barry Zito pitching, if the Giants find themselves in a save situation Monday that will be a blessing in itself.

You could argue all those points. But in the end, the Giants ended up winning a game that they probably should have lost in Oakland and lost a game they should have won. And that’s called a push.

Entering this series, the Giants were 1-29 when trailing after eight innings, and they got a win Friday to go to 2-29.

On Sunday, they were 35-0 when entering the ninth with the lead, and now they are 35-1.

Maybe a bigger issue is how the Giants scored twice in the first inning on a Buster Posey home run, then didn’t score again.

The Giants are now 1-21 when scoring 3 runs or fewer in games in Oakland.

But thanks to a win by the Angels on Sunday, the Giants still only trail the Dodgers by three games in the NL West.

And now onto the Dodgers, which starts a stretch in which the Giants play their next 10 games against division leaders — three with the Dodgers (NL West leaders), four with the Reds (NL Central leaders) and three with the Nationals (NL East leaders). The first-half the season ends with three against the Pirates (who are second in the NL Central).

Thirteen games that will tell us a lot about how the Giants expect to contend for a division title and playoff spot in the second half of the season.

San Francisco Giants 9, Oakland A’s 8: With the Giants, it’s never easy

BOX SCORE

After watching the Giants beat the A’s on Saturday, I was left to wonder one thing: When was the last time Giants fans were treated to a no-stress victory?

So I looked it up. It was May 24. That was the last time the Giants had a stress-free win that didn’t require a save.

OK, OK. There was Matt Cain’s perfect game over Astros. But I don’t count that as exactly stress-free. It was a good stress, but stress all the same.

In fact, the Giants have won 12 games this season in which a reliever was not credited with a save. Here they are:

  1. April 9 — 7-0 over Rockies: Barry Zito throws a complete-game shutout
  2. April 13 — 5-0 over Pirates: Matt Cain throws a complete-game shutout
  3. April 14 — 4-3 over Pirates: Walk-off win in ninth.
  4. April 18 — 1-0 over Phillies: Walk-off win in 11th.
  5. April 23 — 6-1 over Mets: Tim Lincecum’s first victory
  6. April 23 — 7-2 over Mets: Stress-free doubleheader sweep
  7. May 6 — 4-3 over Brewers: Walk-off win in the 11th
  8. May 13 — 7-3 win over Diamondbacks
  9. May 19 — 4-0 over A’s: Vogelsong and two relievers combine on shutout
  10. May 21 — 4-3 over Brewers: 14th-inning road win
  11. May 24 — 14-7 over Marlins
  12. June 13 — 10-0 over Astros: Matt Cain perfect game

It looked like the Giants were headed to no-save-needed win No. 13 Saturday when they led 9-4 after seven innings.

But then the wackiness that has been a staple in this series so far almost bit the Giants.

The game seemed well in hand with two out and a runner on first in the ninth inning.

Then Jonny Gomes walked. Brandon Inge singled home Redick to make it 9-5.

Bruce Bochy then went to get Santiago Casilla for the cheapy save (the potential tying run was still on deck). But then Casilla couldn’t get the save.

Derek Norris hit a bloop into left that Melky Cabrera just missed catching, scoring Gomes. Now it’s 9-6.

Brandon Moss walks. Brandon Hicks hit a ball into the left-field corner that scored two and might have tied the game if it had not bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. Now it’s 9-8 Giants.

Bochy then put Javier Lopez in the game. Lopez battled with Seth Smith before walking to load the bases.

On came Clay Hensley, who worked the count to 2-2 on Jemile Weeks before Weeks hit a bloop that seem destine to drop between a quartet of converging Giants in shallow center.

But then Ryan Theriot was able to reach up and make the game-saving catch. If that ball falls, the A’s win.

All all of Giants Nation breathed a sigh of relief.

It was the topper of another strange game in Oakland.

More oddities

  • Madison Bumgarner, who got a no-decision in Seattle after eight brilliant innings of one-run, three-hit ball last Sunday, earned the win after giving up four runs on 11 hits in six innings. Nine of those hits came before MadBum recorded his first out in the third inning. Like Tim Lincecum the night before, Bumgarner regrouped to retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced.
  • The Giants scored four runs in the sixth inning when A’s first baseman committed three errors in the inning, two on one play alone.
  • The Giants had more runs (9) than hits (8). That’s because they walked nine times, matching their second-highest total of the season.

UP NEXT

The Giants will go for the sweep when they send Matt Cain to the hill for a 1:05 p.m. game Sunday. Cain was supposed to face Brandon McCarthy, who is riding a six-game winning streak during which he’s post a 1.96 ERA. But McCarthy has been battling shoulder problems and cut short a bullpen session Saturday. We were hearing reports that A.J. Griffin will get the call-up from Triple-A Sacramento to pitch for the A’s. He’s 3-1 with 2.81 ERA for the RiverCats with 40 strikeouts and seven walks in 51 innings.

San Francisco Giants 5, Oakland Athletics 4: Freaky turn of events for Tim Lincecum, Giants

BOX SCORE

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum throws against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of an interleague baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

It’s hard to label a win over a sub-.500 team in June as a pivotal game.

But if this season turns out with a happy ending coming September, the Giants may look back at June 22 as a turning point.

And the weird thing about it is that it looked nothing like a happy ending when this game started.

Tim Lincecum took the mound Friday and seemed headed to his most disastrous start of the ugliest season of his big-league career.

Lincecum had not recorded an out and the A’s had scored three runs and had the bases loaded, looking for more. Shane Loux was feverishly warming up in the bullpen.

Then something flipped in the Freak. We think he just got ticked off.

Lincecum would strike out the next three batters to end the inning.

Lincecum would finish his night by retiring 18 of the final 20 batters he faced, allowing only two-out walks in the second and sixth innings. He gave up three runs on three hits and four walks in six innings for his first quality start since May 30 and the third this season.

Almost just as unlikely was the way it ended for the Giants.

Lincecum left trailing 3-1 and it looked like he was going to fall to 2-9 on the season.

But the Giants rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth — Brandon Belt’s two-run double the big hit — to end a six-game losing streak in Oakland.

The Giants improved to 2-29 in games in which they trailed after eight innings.

Before striking out those three batters to end the first inning, Lincecum’s outing was a mixture of bad pitches from Lincecum, bad luck and bad defense.

Coco Crisp led off the game with a ground ball that Ryan Theriot was able to get to, but not able to throw out the speedy Crisp. Infield single.

Crisp stole second. Then Lincecum completely lost track of Crisp as he stole third — without a throw and standing up.

Jemile Weeks then singled to center just past Lincecum’s glove in the hardest hit ball of the inning.

At this point, you were thinking that Lincecum should just shake off that first run and reset himself.

He gave up a soft liner to right by Josh Reddick. But Nate Schierholtz, in right field because Angel Pagan was out with an  abdominal strain (if Pagan plays, Blanco is in right), got a bad break on the ball and allowed it to fall for a single.

Lincecum then made it worse by walking Yoenis Cespedes to load the bases.

Looking for an inning-ending double play, Lincecum instead got Seth Smith to ground the ball to first baseman Brandon Belt.

Belt had two options here: A) throw home immediately to try to force out Weeks at home; B) take the ball to the bag, get the out there and allow the run to score.

Belt chose option C. He started to run toward the bag, but never touched it before throwing home, keeping the force intact. However, catcher Hector Sanchez wasn’t aware that the force was still in play, so he was not standing on the plate when he received Belt’s throw, allowing Weeks to slide under him to score.

So instead of being down 2-0 with one out and runners on second and third, Lincecum was down 2-0 with the bases loaded and no one out.

He made matters worse by walking Brandon Inge to make it 3-0.

Then, suddenly, just as things looked as if everything was going to completely unravel, the Lincecum of old showed up.

With his three first-inning strikeouts, Lincecum threw 43 pitches in the first inning. He would throw 62 over the next five innings to finish with 105.

Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, this is the start Lincecum has been looking for to turn the corner. It was against the A’s, the worst-hitting team in the majors. But at this point, we’ll take any positive step we can get.

Lincecum’s next start will come Wednesday afternoon at home against the Dodgers and Chad Billingsley, a pitcher who has been battling struggles of his own.

UP NEXT

After winning a game that looked like the worst pitching matchup of the series for the Giants, San Francisco will try to win Game 2 with its best pitching matchup when Madison Bumgarner takes on Tyson Ross at 4:05 p.m. Saturday in a game televised by FOX.

San Francisco Giants Friday Farm Report: Tommy Joseph named to Futures Game

Richmond catcher Tommy Joseph has been selected to represent the Giants in the MLB Futures Game in Kansas City next month.

Joseph, who turns 21 next month, is hitting .248 with three home runs, 15 RBI and a team-high 11 doubles in 52 games. He’s thrown out 46 percent of would-be base stealers.

He’s struggled of late, hitting just .195 in his last 10 games since June 9.

Triple-A Fresno

RP Heath Hembree: After a very bumpy end to May, Hembree returned from a six-day layoff in early June to throw five innings without an earned run. The streak ended June 20 when he gave up his first earned run since June 2. He has recorded four saves since June 8.

SP Eric Hacker: Hacker seems to be first in line as a replacement starter for the Giants. Yet, he’s had his own troubles of late. He’s 10-3 on the season, but has allowed 15 earned runs in his last 16.1 innings.

RP Dan Runzler: Working his way back from a lat injury late last season, Runzler made his first outing with Fresno on Tuesday, giving up two runs on three hits in one inning of work against Sacramento.

Double-A Richmond

OF Gary Brown: The Giants’ top prospect is showing signs of life in Double-A. He’s hitting .300 (15 for 50) over his past 10 games since June 10. He’s hit safely in eight of his past nine games, with just two strikeouts but only one walk. He’s also been successful in four of his past five steal attempts. He’s hitting .247 with an .320 OBP on the season.

SP Chris Heston: Heston’s lights-out season has dimmed a bit in recent starts, giving up eight runs in 19.1 innings. But he’s also logged 20 strikeouts in those game. He fanned 10 in 5.1 innings on Wednesday against Trenton. His 1.36 ERA for the season still easily leads the Eastern League.

RP Brett Bochy: Bochy continues to have a solid season. He’s allowed just one run on three hits in his last seven innings since June 10 with 12 strikeouts. He’s 5-2 with a 1.62 ERA and eight saves.

Class A San Jose

SS Joe Panik: Panik is another high prospect who is heating up. He is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak, going 17 for 42 (.405) over that stretch. He belted his third home run of the season on Thursday. He has struck out just twice since June 8. He has 25 strikeouts to 32 walks on the season.

OF Jarrett Parker: Parker continues to put his average on the rise. He was hit by a pitch in the helmet on June 12, landing him on the DL. He returned Thursday and smacked his sevent home run of the season. He’s hitting .424 over his past 10 games, bring his season average to .264.

Class A Augusta

SP Clayton Blackburn: Blackburn opened the second half of the South Atlantic League by pitching the Green Jackets over Savannah Thursday. The 19-year-old gave up four runs on eight hits and no walks in six innings. He also fanned eight. He’s 4-2 with 3.17 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 12 walks in 65.1 innings.

SP Kyle Crick: Crick, also 19, finished the first half of the season very strong, giving up no earned runs on three hits in 12 innings with 14 strikeouts. He was the league pitcher of the week on June 11 after pitching seven innings of one-hit ball on June 7 with 10 strikeouts.

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