Madison Bumgarner joins the quality start parade as San Francisco Giants sweet Atlanta Braves

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner delivers to the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 4, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner delivers to the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 4, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

Here’s one stat the San Francisco Giants fans aren’t talking about right now.

The Giants are 0 for their last 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position over their last five games.

In Saturday’s game in Atlanta, the Giants didn’t get a chance to fail with a runner in scoring position because they never put a runner into scoring position.

Yet the Giants are on a five-game winning streak thanks to home runs and outstanding pitching.

Madison Bumgarner joined the parade of quality starts by limiting the Braves to one unearned run over six innings in a 4-1 win on Saturday.

The win completed the Giants’ first sweep in Atlanta in 1988. That was a really, really, long time ago. How long ago?

It was so long ago that 1988 was the last time the Dodgers won a World Series.

Yeah, like we said, a looooooooooooooooong time ago.

It was good to see Bumgarner regain his form as the ace of the staff. Prior to Sunday’s start, Bumgarner had allowed as many earned runs (four) in his last start (5 IP) as Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Linecum, Tim Hudson, Yusmeiro Petit and Vogelsong had allowed combined in the 33.2 innings over the Giants’ previous five starts.

Bumgarner allowed three hits and one walk, while striking out nine over his six innings of work. He threw 95 pitches and lowered his season ERA to 3.18.

From there, the bullpen continued its streak of scoreless relief. The Giants’ pen has not allowed a run since the ninth inning of Monday’s loss to the Padres.

Since then, they’ve pitched 13 consecutive scoreless innings, allowing only three hits over that stretch.

And the Giants continue to hit the long ball. They added two more on Sunday, both off the bat of Brandon Crawford. He had a solo home run in the fourth, then broke the Giants’ long stretch of hitting just solo homers in the eighth with a two-run shot.

The Giants’ other run came on a run-scoring groundout by Buster Posey in the first inning, meaning that Angel Pagan remains the only Giant to have a run-scoring hit on the road that was not a home run since April 5. Pagan has two such hits.

It’s an odd combination, especially for the Giants — home runs, solid starting pitching and outstanding relief pitching. But it’s produced the first five-game winning streak of the 2014 season, and the longest winning streak since winning six in a row from April 29-May 5, 2013.

Now, it’s a happy flight to Pittsburgh as the Giants have opened this tough 10-game road trip against three playoff teams from 2013 at 3-0.

Home runs continue to power San Francisco Giants unlikely scoring string on the road

San Francisco Giants' Michael Morse (38) is congratulated by teammate Hector Sanchez, left, and manager Bruce Bochy, right, after a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, May 2, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

San Francisco Giants’ Michael Morse (38) is congratulated by teammate Hector Sanchez, left, and manager Bruce Bochy, right, after a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, May 2, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

If chick dig the long ball, they love the 2014 San Francisco Giants.

The Giants smacked three more home runs as they beat the Atlanta Braves 3-1 on Saturday in Atlanta.

That makes five solo home runs in the first two games of the series so far, accounting for all five of the Giants’ runs.

But the string of home runs accounting for the Giants’ offense on the road goes back further than that.

Going back to the Giants’ previous road trip in Colorado, the last 18 runs the Giants have scored on the road were accounted for by home runs — 12 of them.

Home runs have also accounted for 24 of the last 28 runs the Giants have scored on the road, and 29 of the last 34 runs they’ve scored on the road, dating all the way back to April 5.

During that span, only one play has a run-scoring hit that was not a home run: Angel Pagan (a two-run single on April 20 in San Diego, and an RBI double on April 5 in L.A.).

Here’s the breakdown (non-homer scoring plays in bold):

May 3 at Atlanta (W 3-1)

  • 3: Solo HR by Michael Morse in 7th inning
  • 2: Solo HR by Buster Posey in 4th inning
  • 1: Solo HR by Brandon Belt in 2nd inning

May 2 at Atlanta (W 2-1)

  • 2: Solo HR by Michael Morse in 6th inning
  • 1: Solo HR by Angel Pagan in 1st inning

April 23 at Colorado (W 12-10)

  • 9-12: Grand slam by Hector Sanchez in 11th inning
  • 8: Solo HR by Hector Sanchez in 8th inning
  • 6-7: 2-run HR by Brandon Belt in 7th inning
  • 3-5: 3-run HR by Michael Morse in 3rd inning
  • 2: Solo HR by Brandon Hicks in 3rd inning
  • 1: Solo HR by Michael Morse in 2nd inning

April 22 at Colorado (L 2-1)

  • 1: Solo HR by Hunter Pence in 5th innin

April 21 at Colorado (L 8-2)

  • 2: Run scores on error in 9th inning
  • 1: Run scores on double play from Buster Posey in 3rd inning

April 20 at San Diego (W 4-2)

  • 3-4: 2-run single by Angel Pagan in 2nd inning
  • 1-2: 2-run HR by Buster Posey in 1st inning

April 19 at San Diego (L 2-1)

  • 1: Solo HR by Michael Morse in 5th inning

April 18 at San Diego (L 2-1)

  • 1: Solo HR by Brandon Belt in 9th inning

April 6 at L.A. Dodgers (L 6-2)

  • 2: Solo HR by Hunter Pence in 6th inning
  • 1: Solo HR by Brandon Belt in 6th inning

April 5 at L.A. Dodgers (W 7-2)

  • 7: RBI Double by Angel Pagan in 6th inning
  • 6: Solo HR by Buster Posey in 5th inning
  • 3-5: 3-run HR by Pablo Sandoval in the 5th inning
  • 2: Solo HR by Michael Morse in the 4th inning
  • 1: RBI double by Madison Bumgarner in the 2nd inning

Friday Farm Report: Maybe it’s time for San Francisco Giants to call up Tyler Colvin

The struggles of the San Francisco Giants bench players in 2014 have been well documented.

  • Ehire Adrianza is hitting .185
    Hector Sanchez is hitting .171
    Joaquin Arias is hitting .146
    Gregor Blanco is hitting .125

But all of those struggles pale in comparison to the woes at the plate of Juan Perez, who is hitting .067 in 15 at-bats this season.

While Perez have been used mostly as a defensive replacement for Michael Morse — and doing a good job of that — the Giants may want to consider other options.

Unlike his other bench mates, Perez has options, which means he can be sent down to the minors without first clearing waivers. The Giants have already done this once, only to recall Perez again less than a week later when pitcher David Huff went on the DL.

So maybe Perez needs to go back to Fresno, and there may be a better option on the bench, like Tyler Colvin.

Colvin was signed to a minor-league deal by the Giants in the offseason and brought to camp to fight for a job. But Colvin battled injuries and struggled this spring, earning a ticket to Fresno.

His struggles continued there, where he opened the season hitting .145.

But things have begun to change for Colvin. Over his past 10 games, he’s hitting .429 (15 for 35) and hit his first home run of the season on Thursday. His average now sits at .269.

Now Triple-A stats are deceiving, as everyone hits in Fresno. Even Perez hit .478 in five games after his demotion last month.

But Colvin has experienced success at the big league level in his short career, something Perez has yet to attain.

Yes, Colvin is a left-handed batter, and Perez is right-handed. But lefty/righty goes right out the window when your righty is hitting .067.

So why not give Colvin a shot?

HIGHLIGHTS IN SYSTEM

TRIPLE-A

  • 2B Joe Panik: While other Fresno hitters have cooled off, Panik continues to deliver at the plate. He’s hitting .306 with a .380 OBP. Over the past 10 games, he’s hitting .378. He doesn’t hit for a lot of power, but he puts the ball in play — two strikeouts over 37 at-bats in last 10 games.
    C Andrew Susac: Susac was placed on the disabled list on April 23 (retroactive to April 21) for concussion-like symptoms after taking a few foul balls off the mask.
    3B Adam Duvall: Duvall has cooled off big time. He has 6 HR, 19 RBI and is hitting .250 for the season. But over the past 10 games: 0 HR, 1 RBI and .147 AVG.
    1B Travis Ishikawa: Hey, look who is a Giant again. Ishikawa was DFA’d by the Pirates on April 19. He signed with the Giants a couple of days later.
    RHP Heath Hembree: The Grizzlies closer had his first bad outing on Wednesday, giving up two runs on four hits in a inning of work against El Paso. He still has a 1.74 ERA with five saves, 10 strikeouts in 10.1 innings of work.

DOUBLE-A

  • OF Jarrett Parker: Parker has been known for power and strikeouts. He seems to be working on cutting down on his whiffs and making more contact. He has 15 strikeouts and nine walks in 88 ABs this season. He’s hitting .295 for the season with 1 HR.
    RHP Derek Law: Law, who impressed the Giants during spring training, is off to a great start. He has seven saves in 11 games with a 0.79 ERA. He has 14 strikeouts in 11.1 innings.

CLASS A

  • OF Mac Williamson: The most disappointing news of the week came out of San Jose where it was announced the power-hitting prospect would undergo Tommy John surgery. The plan was for Williamson to open the season at Double-A. But when elbow issues bothered him, he went to San Jose to play DH. While position players generally come back quicker from this surgery than outfielders, it is expected to end his season. It would not be a surprise to see Williamson pop up again in the Arizona Fall League or winter ball.
    OF Jesus Galindo: The speedy outfielder is hitting .330 with a .374 OBP. He also has 2 HR and 7 RBI and has scored 17 runs in 26 games. But his base stealing needs to improve. He’s 8 for 14.
    3B Mitch Delfino: The 20th round pick out of UCSB is off to a nice start at San Jose, hitting .318 with 6 HR and 20 RBI in 25 games.
    LHP Steven Okert: In a league that favors hitters over pitchers, Okert is doing a solid job as the San Jose closer. He has five saves, 21 strikeouts, five walks and a 1.35 ERA in 13.1 innings.

 

Peter Gammons says San Francisco Giants might be best candidate to trade for David Price

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price throws against the Chicago White Sox during the sixth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price throws against the Chicago White Sox during the sixth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

OK, so we’ll admit we endure Christopher Russo on MLB Network’s High Heat just so we can get our morning live baseball news fix. We don’t particularly like being yelled at by a New Yorker so early in the day (or any time of day for that matter).

But there was an interesting tidbit that came out of Wednesday’s version of High Heat, thanks to an appearance by celebrated baseball writer Peter Gammons.

The topic of discussion was what the Tampa Bay Rays would do with David Price should the team’s fortune continue to deteriorate this season.

Even though the Dodgers always seem to rise to the top of the list as possible suitors for high-profile players, Gammons doesn’t believe Big Blue makes the most sense as a trade partner for Price.

The team he thinks does make sense may surprise you.

“I think the one that might make sense are the Giants,” Gammons said. “They are loaded with pitching at Double-A — Kyle Crick. They have a couple of other really good young pitchers. (Giants GM) Brian Sabean might take the flier and say ‘OK, a year and a half, we might win once, we might make the playoffs twice. Let’s go and let’s go get David Price, even if we can’t pay him with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum under contract.’ I think that’s the only place that makes sense.”

Gammons said the Dodgers don’t make sense because what he is hearing is that Los Angeles is unwilling to part with its top prospects: OF Joc Pederson, LHP Julio Urias and SS Corey Seager.

The young arms that Gammons was talking about at Double-A for the Giants is topped by Crick, a 21-year-old right-hander who is the Giants’ top prospect and ranked the No. 30 prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com.

Other pitchers at Double-A who rate as the Giants’ top prospects include LHP Adalberto Mejia (age 20), LHP Ty Blach (23), RHP Clayton Blackburn (21), RHP Derek Law (23) and LHP Josh Osich (25).

And that doesn’t even count 21-year-old lefty Edwin Escobar, who was the 56th-ranked prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. Escobar is considered the most big league-ready pitcher in the Giants’ farm system. Escobar has rebounded nicely in his last two starts after a bumpy debut for Triple-A Fresno.

Now, Gammons did mention that all of this is predicated on the notion that the Rays will be in a position by June that they even start about thinking of dealing Price. And that’s a big if.

The next question is whether the Giants will be in a position to trade for a big-time arm.

The Giants already have $125 million committed to 12 players for 2015, $84.5 million to six players in 2016 and $71.4 million to four players in 2017. And that doesn’t include arbitration years for Brandon Belt, or what the Giants will do regarding Pablo Sandoval’s contract.

So it would seem the Giants are going back to their plan they put in place in the post-Barry Bonds years in which they build through their young pitching. That plan helped deliver two World Series titles.

Price is making $14 million this year and can expect to make more than $20 million in 2015 through arbitration. Then comes free agency and the really big pay day in 2016.

So if they acquire Price, they can expect their payroll to approach $150 million in 2015 for just 13 players without knowing …

  • how much Brandon Belt will make in 2015
  • who is going to play third base
  • who is going to play left field (Michael Morse is on a one-year deal)
  • who will play second base (Marco Scutaro can’t be counted on for anything)
  • who will close (Sergio Romo is a free agent in 2015).

We have all the respect for Peter Gammons, and the idea of a 2015 rotation of David Price, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson and Tim Linecum is worth dreaming about. But when you add up the numbers up, maybe it doesn’t make as much sense after all.

Friday Farm Report: Former No. 1 picks Panik, Brown hitting in Fresno

OK, the first thing you need to remember about Fresno Grizzlies stats is that EVERY hitter hits. Well, almost every hitter.

Juan Perez, who was 0-for-2014 with the Giants, got demoted last week and hit .421 (8 for 19) with three walks in five games before getting recalled. Tony Abreu, who got released and unclaimed by every other club because he couldn’t hit his weight in spring training, is hitting .319 for Fresno.

So you take every hitters’ stats with a grain of salt. Or a whole shaker of it.

Fresno (Triple-A)

2B JOE PANIK: The former first-round pick is having a nice debut at Triple-A. He’s hitting .317 with a .376 OBP. Panik’s numbers have been going down as he rises through the ranks — .341 in short A ball in 2011, .297 to Class A in 2012 and .257 in Double-A in 2013. So this is a good start at Triple-A.

C ANDREW SUSAC: The next is the Giants’ deep system of catchers, Susac has 2 HRs, 9 RBI and is hitting .291 with a .391 OBP. Good offensive numbers. But the book on Susac is he needs to work on his defense.

OF GARY BROWN: Brown, another former first-round pick, struggled mightily in his first go-round at Triple-A last year (.231). But the numbers are better this year: 1 HR, 9 RBI, .282 AVG, .364 OBP. But for a speed guy who is supposed to have a good glove, Brown has 16 strikeouts in 85 ABs this season. He’s also 4 for 7 on stolen bases and has four errors. So there’s work to be done.

3B ADAM DUVALL: The most big league-ready 3B in the farm system, Duvall has shown power with 6 HRs and 19 RBI in 21 games. He’s hitting .271, which is OK. He got off to a hot start, but has cooled some since.

RP HEATH HEMBREE: The Giants “closer of the future” has pitched seven scoreless innings for Fresno, giving up five hits and three walks with 7 strikeouts. He has three saves.

SP MIKE KICKHAM: Kickham has been the best starter in Fresno, despite a 1-3 record. He has a 3.00 ERA, but his WHIP is 1.59 because of 10 walks and 33 walks in 27 innings.

SP EDWIN ESCOBAR: Escobar was expected to be the first pitcher in line should the Giants need to call a starter up from the minors. But he got off to a very bumpy start. He’s 0-1 with 5.49 ERA. But he had his best start of the season last Sunday when he limited Reno to no runs, two hits and no walks in 7 innings of work.

Richmond (Double-A)

OF JARRETT PARKER: The former second-round pick is still swinging from the heels, striking out 15 times in 18 games this season. But he’s hitting .300, and in the hitter-friendly Eastern League, that’s worth noting.

1B ANGEL VILLALONA: Villalona is still working his way back after being out of baseball for a couple of years because legal issues. But he’s off to a good start at Double-A, hitting .288 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in 19 games.

SP CLAYTON BLACKBURN: One of the Giants’ better pitching prospects, Blackburn is 1-2 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts (20 IP). He has 16 strikeouts and four walks.

SP KYLE CRICK: Perhaps the Giants’ top pitching prospect is 1-0 with 3.27 ERA in three starts (11 IP). He has 14 strikeouts, but 11 walks. Obviously something he’ll need to deal with .. control.

San Francisco Giants’ recent feast-or-famine hitting approach won’t play well at home

San Francisco Giants' Hector Sanchez celebrates his grand slam against the Colorado Rockies as he circles the bases in the 11th inning of the Giants' 12-10 victory in 11 innings of a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

San Francisco Giants’ Hector Sanchez celebrates his grand slam against the Colorado Rockies as he circles the bases in the 11th inning of the Giants’ 12-10 victory in 11 innings of a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It’s somewhat ironic that when the Giants return home on Friday they will honor play-by-play man Duane Kuiper with a bobblehead give-away commemorating Kuiper’s lone big-league home run.

The link is obvious. Kuiper played the first eight of his 12 big-league seasons with the Indians before finishing his career with four seasons in San Francisco.

On Aug. 27, 1977, Kuiper hit his only home run as an Indian. So with the Indians in town for an interleague series, it’s a good time for a bobblehead.

The ironic part is while the Giants honor a light-hitting infielder they come off a road trip on which their offense was fueled by the long ball.

The Giants belted six home runs in a 12-10 win over the Rockies on Wednesday. It was the first time in the Giants’ San Francisco era that they scored as many as 12 runs in a game with home runs accounting for all the scoring. The previous high was nine runs, last done in 1987.

Giants color man Mike Krukow said he thinks Wednesday’s outburst will be the day the Giants will look back on as the day that got the offense going.

We’re not so sure. The Giants scored 12 runs in their previous seven games, then matched that output on Wednesday.

When the Giants were struggling to score runs on the road trip, manager Bruce Bochy said his hitters looked like they were trying to hit 9-run homers each time they came to the plate.

But of the 21 runs the Giants scored on the road trip, 17 were scored on home runs. Here’s how the Giants scored their four other runs.

  • Two-run single by Angel Pagan in the 2nd inning Sunday vs. San Diego.
  • Run-scoring double play ball by Buster Posey in 3rd inning Tuesday vs. Colorado.
  • Run scores on error by pitcher in 9th inning Tuesday vs. Colorado.

The Giants rank third in the National League in home runs with 27. But 21 of those have been hit on the road. The Giants hit as many home runs in one game Wednesday in Colorado than they’ve hit in nine games this season at AT&T Park.

It’s a small sample size, but the Giants are 3-1 at home when they hit a home run — 2-3 when they don’t.

The Giants can’t depend on the long ball if they hope to win at AT&T. The Giants lead the NL is walks with 80, but they are 12th in the league in hitting (.234). But they have hit better at home (.243 to .227).

Giants 3, Dodgers 2 (12 inn.): Real hero of Giants’ late-night victory was not on the field

stayback

WP: Yusmeiro Petit (1-0)
HR: None

BOX SCORE

Sorry about the mid-afternoon blog post on Tuesday’s game. But it was a late night.

The night might have ended sooner — and with a much less happy result for the Giants — if not for the heroic efforts of one person in AT&T Park.

And he wasn’t wearing the No. 42. And every player Tuesday was wearing the No. 42.

No, instead it was the fan down the left-field line, who held back at least one person in the stands to prevent someone from possible interfering with Brandon Belt’s game-tying double in the ninth inning.

He was making the rounds as “Stand-Back Man” on Twitter. He could also be called the Anti-Bartman.

Here’s the situation: with one out and Angel Pagan on first base, Belt slaps a ball down the left-field line. The ball kicked off the wall along the stands. One fan held back another to keep from going after the ball in play. Pagan raced around the bases and scored the tying run of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.

Had a fan touched the ball in play, it would have been ruled a ground-rule double and Pagan would have been forced to return to third base.

Considering that Pablo Sandoval would strike out, Buster Posey would walk and Hunter Pence would fly out, it’s very likely that had a fan interfered with the ball, the Giants would have lost while leaving the bases loaded.

Well played, sir, well played.

LOADED PROBLEMS

Considering the Giants’ issues with the bases loaded, maybe the Dodgers should have walked Hector Sanchez and Angel Pagan to load the bases in the 12th.

The Giants loaded the bases in the fourth, but Michael Morse struck out and Brandon Crawford grounded out.

They loaded the bases in the fifth, but Posey flied to center.

They loaded the bases in the 10th, but Pagan popped out and Belt flied to left.

In the 12th, Crawford singled, went to second on a fielder’s choice and to third on a wild pitch.

Sanchez delivered a single off the glove of second baseman Justin Turner for the win.

BENCH TO THE RESCUE

Before Gregor Blanco’s triple on Sunday (when he was thrown out at the plate), the Giants’ bench of Blanco, Joaquin Arias, Ehire Adrianza, Juan Perez and Sanchez were 5 for 66 (.076).

Starting with Blanco’s triple, those five players have gone 4 for 7 with two walks.

That’s an encouraging sign.

Tuesday’s game was the Giants’ fifth consecutive one-run game. Three of those games went extra innings.

It was also the Giants’ second consecutive walk-off win.

If the Giants are going to continue to play tight games like that they are going to need two things: Solid production out of the bullpen and the bench.

They’ve received the production from the pen. They need more out of the bench.

WEDNESDAY

Ryan Vogelsong faces Paul Maholm in Game 2 of the series at 7:15 p.m. The Giants pounced on Maholm in his first start of the season. Vogelsong had better results in his most recent start after a sloppy debut in L.A.

On further review, don’t scrap MLB replay system, just make these fixes

First base umpire Bob Davidson tosses out Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell who objected to MLB's ruling of a an overturned fourth-inning force out at first base in a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, April 13, 2014.  The Yankees Brian McCann scored on the play. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

First base umpire Bob Davidson tosses out Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell who objected to MLB’s ruling of a an overturned fourth-inning force out at first base in a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, April 13, 2014. The Yankees Brian McCann scored on the play. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Two weeks into the season, and verdict is in.

Majore League Baseball’s new replay challenge system has its flaws. But compared to no system at all, it’s better than nothing.

The replay system was back in the news over the weekend after it failed to overturn a call in the Red Sox-Yankees game even though a replay clearly showed it should have been overturned.

The problem was that the replay official in New York didn’t have access to the replay that showed the umpire’s call was wrong. That sent Red Sox manager John Farrell into a tizzy.

The next night, when the Yankees won a replay challenge even though Farrell thought the replay was not conclusive, Farrell came out to argue. That earned him an automatic ejection.

Farrell then wondered if the system can’t get every call right, then what’s the point of having a system at all.

That kind of logic is borne out of Farrell’s well-warranted frustration. But it’s like saying if the police can’t catch every criminal, why have a police department at all.

Through Sunday this season, according to the website closecalls.com, there have been 84 replay challenges, of which 40 calls have been confirmed (including Saturday’s incorrect confirmation in New York), 28 calls have been overturned and 16 more calls have been allowed to stand because of inconclusive video evidence.

So that’s 28 botched calls that got corrected. That’s progress. The next step is to get almost all botched calls corrected. I’m not sure perfection is attainable.

And while the replay challenges have brought delays, they have eliminated most of the on-field arguments, which also delay games. We just never knew they delayed games because they were more entertaining to watch than watching umpires put on headphones and stand around for 2-3 minutes.

In 2013, according to closecalls.com, there were 180 ejections of players, coaches and managers. That averages out to about 1.0 per day.

In 2014 through Sunday, there have been five in the first two weeks of the season, or 0.36 per day — a decrease of more than 60 percent. And actually, four of those five occurred on Sunday. So through Saturday, there percentage was more like 0.08 per day.

Four of the five ejections were over balls/strike calls, which are not replay reviewable — nor should they be.

So that means more players are staying in the game, and managers too, which we can assume is making the game better.

Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said he thought replay would be a good thing for the game when the season started. Now, he’s not so sure.

One point that we do agree with McClendon on is he’s frustrated with the edict that MLB will not review the replay challenge system until after the season is over.

So here are suggestions that we’d make to improve the replay system.

1. All scoring plays are reviewable. Baseball needs to learn from the NFL’s scoring plays on replay. The NFL reviews all scoring plays. Baseball should do the same. Scoring plays are the most important plays in the game. Let’s make sure we get them right.

2. Umpires need to make everyone aware if a call was confirmed, overturned or allowed to stand because of inconclusive video evidence. This is an important distinction and will factor into other changes we propose. Again, the NFL does this. Officials will make a distinction betwen a call that was confirmed or allowed to stand. So if a player was called safe on the field and the umpire signals out after the replay, then clearly the call was overturned. But if the umpire signals safe, then we know the call was confirmed. But if the umpire makes another signal — perhaps pointing to the base or pointing to the ground — then signals safe, that would let everyone know the replay was inconclusive and the call will stand.

3. If call is not overturned because of inconclusive video evidence, the manager does not lose the right to make a second challenge later in the game. If a replay cannot prove that the umpire’s call was right, the manager should not be penalized for challenging the call.

4. There should be a three-minute time limit on reviews. If a decision to overturn or confirm can’t be reached in that time, then it’s inconclusive and they play stands.

5. There should be a three-person review panel, each watching the replays independently. Each then decides to vote to overturn or confirm. If two vote to overturn, it’s overturned. If two vote to confirm, it’s confirmed. However, if within the three-minute period, neither one of those things happen, it becomes inconclusive and play stands.

These suggestions might not solve all the issues with replays. But they would make the system better. And that’s what we need to get to … and we need to do it now.

Giants 5, Rockies 4 (10 inn.): Some fun facts about the game-winning Splash Hit by Brandon Crawford

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford hits a walk-off home run to beat the Colorado Rockies during the 10th inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 13, 2014, in San Francisco. San Francisco won 5-4. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Crawford hits a walk-off home run to beat the Colorado Rockies during the 10th inning of a baseball game on Sunday, April 13, 2014, in San Francisco. San Francisco won 5-4. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

 

  • WP: Sergio Romo (1-0)
  • HR: Pablo Sandoval (2), Brandon Crawford (1)

BOX SCORE

Sunday was almost a GREAT day for Splash Hits.

Nah, come to think of it, it was a great day for Splash Hits.

Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the 10th inning by hitting his first Splash Hit, shooting a pitch off Rex Brothers (a left-hander no less) into McCovey Cove right down the right-field line to lift the Giants over the Rockies 5-4.

It was the first Splash Hit since Pablo Sandoval put one in the water on May 12, 2013.

Sandoval almost made it two Splash Hits in the same game in the sixth inning.

Sandoval’s shot to over the No. 3 archway was well on its way to the Bay, but the ball actually hit one of the flag poles that rise high above the Willie Mays Wall in right and bounced back.

If Sandoval had reached the water, it would have been a first — it would have been the first time two different Giants hit Splash Hits in the same game.

Barry Bonds twice hit a pair of Splash Hits in the same game — on May 10, 2000 vs. the Cardinals (Nos. 2 and 3 Splash Hits overall); and May 18, 2002 vs. the Marlins (Nos. 19 and 20).

Crawford’s home run was the 64th Splash Hit at AT&T/SBC/Pacific Bell Park. He became the 17th different player to record at Splash Hit. (Remember: Splash Hits are home runs on the fly into the bay hit by Giants hitters).

It was also the second walk-off Splash Hit. Barry Bonds had the other on Aug. 19, 2003.

So Barry Bonds hit 35 career Splash Hits.

Barry Bonds spent time this spring working with Brandon Crawford.

Brandon Crawford hits his first Splash Hit.

Hmmmm. Coincidence?

Here’s the list of Splash Hitters

  1. Barry Bonds 35
  2. Pablo Sandoval 7
  3. Brandon Belt 3
  4. Felipe Crespo 2
  5. Ryan Klesko 2
  6. Michael Tucker 2
  7. Andres Torres 2
  8. Aubrey Huff 2
  9. JT Snow 1
  10. Jose Cruz Jr 1
  11. AJ Pierzynski 1
  12. Randy Winn 1
  13. Fred Lewis 1
  14. John Bowker 1
  15. Nate Schierholtz 1
  16. Carlos Beltran 1
  17. Brandon Crawford 1

NEXT UP

After an off day, Tim Lincecum faces Josh Beckett as the Giants and Dodgers open a three-game series at AT&T Park at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.

Rockies 1, Giants 0: Giants’ weakest link not enough to support Matt Cain

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain throws to the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain throws to the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • LP: Matt Cain (0-2)

BOX SCORE

There is a saying: “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.”

Well, if that’s the case, the Giants’ hopes for a successful season is looking pretty flimsy right about now.

With Brandon Hicks getting the bulk of the starts at 2B, the Giants’ bench looks like this:

  • C Hector Sanchez
  • IF Joaquin Arias
  • IF Ehire Adrianza
  • OF Gregor Blanco
  • OF Juan Perez

People were talking about the struggles at the top of the order Saturday — Hunter Pence was in the No. 2 hole and batting .167, Pablo Sandoval in the No. 3 hole and batting .152 — but it’s really the struggles on the bench that are much worse.

Those five bench players listed above are hitting a combined 5 for 66 (.076).

By comparison, Giants pitchers this season are 4 for 20 (.200).

As manager Bruce Bochy is trying to find days off to rest his starters — Angel Pagan and Buster Posey got one on Friday; Brandon Belt got his first rest on Saturday — it means starting players who are recording outs at an alarming rate.

And the only way that Bochy knows to try to get these guys started is to give them at-bats.

He can’t send them down to Fresno to find their hitting stroke. Arias, Blanco and Adrianza are out of options, meaning they’d have to clear waivers before getting a demotion.

Sanchez could be sent down, but the call-up options are much better. Andrew Susac is hitting .370 in Fresno, which is great. But the Giants don’t want Susac to get called up and make one start a week. They want him to getting playing time and continue to progress. They have a veteran backup in Fresno in Guillermo Quiroz, but he’s hitting .154 … IN FRESNO. And everyone hits in Fresno.

The same thing is at play in the outfield. Yeah, they could demote Juan Perez, but who do you get to replace him?

Prospect Gary Brown is hitting .317. But, again, the Giants want Brown to get ABs, and that won’t happen with the Giants. The veteran OF option is Tyler Colvin, who is hitting .194 in Fresno.

CAIN LOOKED BETTER

The silver lining from Saturday’s game is Matt Cain looked the best he’s looked so far this season.

Cain gave up one run on four hits and three walks over seven innings in a 116-pitch outing. He struck out eight.

Despite the solid outing, Cain tried to take the blame for the loss, pointing to a double steal set up Troy Tulowitzki’s sacrifice fly that accounted for the game’s only run.

“You make a leadoff walk and I did a bad job of paying attention to him on second,” Cain said. “That’s what cost us.”

Nice try, Matt. But you can’t win a game if you don’t score a run.

It was the sixth time in Cain’s career that he was saddled with a loss despite only allowing one run, and the first time in four seasons.

SUNDAY

Tyler Chatwood is expected to be activated off the DL (hamstring) and make his first start of the season for the Rockies on Sunday. The Giants will counter with Tim Hudson. Chatwood gave up one earned run in 11.2 innings against the Giants last season. Sunday’s game start at 1:05 p.m.

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