Results tagged ‘ San Francisco Giants ’

Yadier Molina extends All-Star vote lead over Buster Posey

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey smiles as he stretches after taking batting practice before an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, March 21, 2013 in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey smiles as he stretches after taking batting practice before an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, March 21, 2013 in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The San Francisco Giants are 39-43. They are 10-18 since June 1. They’ve lost seven of their last eight games, nine of their last 11, 12 of their last 16.

Has the June swoon, which continued into July with an 8-1 rain-shortened loss to the Reds on Monday, cooled the fervor of Giants’ fans from getting out the vote for the NL All-Star game?

Last season, a late push of online votes propelled Buster Posey, Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval into All-Star starters. Posey set an all-time record for all-star votes with more than 7 million votes.

In voting results released Tuesday, the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina continues to be the NL’s leading vote-getter with 5,093,645 votes. Posey is No. 2 at the catching position, more than 300,000 votes behind Molina. Posey is the No. 3 overall NL vote-getter — outfielder Carlos Beltran has 5.013 million votes.

All-Star voting ends on Thursday.

Again, no Giant leads his position in All-Star voting. David Wright of the Mets extended his lead over Pablo Sandoval at third base to 842,000 votes.

In fact, the Giants player who is closest to the top vote-getter at his position is Marco Scutaro, who trails the Reds’ Brandon Phillips by less than 300,000 votes. However, Scutaro is in third at second base, as the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter is in second, 44,000 votes ahead of Scutaro.

Brandon Crawford continues to be No. 2 among shortstops, but trails leader Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies by almost 1.7 million votes.

First baseman Brandon Belt is fourth at his position. Hunter Pence is 7th among outfielders, while Angel Pagan is 9th and Gregor Blanco is 13th.

San Francisco Giants cap first-half of season with much-needed win

San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence singles against the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning of the Giants' 5-2 victory in a baseball game in Denver on Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence singles against the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 5-2 victory in a baseball game in Denver on Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Giants snapped a six-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

It also snapped a five-game losing streak at Coors Field.

The Giants finished the first half of the season a 39-42, their worst 81-game record since going 35-46 in 2008, the Giants’ last losing season.

Once again, Buster Posey made a key contribution. Playing his second consecutive game at first base, Posey homered in the third inning. It was the fourth time in the past five games that Posey has gone deep.

Posey was at the plate when the Giants scored again in the fifth, although he didn’t get credit for the RBI because the Giants scored with help from a Colorado error.

With runners on second and third, Posey grounded to second. After Posey was thrown out at first, Rockies first baseman Jordan Pacheco tried to throw out Tony Abreu, who had wandered too far away from second. But Pacheco’s throw went into left field, allowing Andres Torres to score.

It was the first time since June 15 the Giants scored an unearned run.

Hunter Pence followed with a two-run home run to right center. It was the first time in five games a player other than Buster Posey had driven in a run for the Giants.

The Giants caught another break in the seventh when Juan Perez scored all the way from first on a Texas Leaguer to shallow right-center by Guillermo Quiroz.

That was more than enough for Madison Bumgarner, who gave up a solo home run to Carlos Gonzalez in seven innings of work.

Sergio Romo worked around a two-out double by Todd Helton in the ninth for his first save in 11 games. He had not saved a game on the road since June 2 in St. Louis.

Now the road trip heads to Cincinnati for a four-game set against the Reds.

For what it’s worth, the Giants have won their last four games at Cincinnati, including all three there during the NLDS last fall.

It’s been a long time since the San Francisco Giants …. (fill in the blank)

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy adjusts his cap after his team was retired in order  during the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies of a baseball game in Denver on Saturday, June 29, 2013. The Rockies won 2-1. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy adjusts his cap after his team was retired in order during the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies of a baseball game in Denver on Saturday, June 29, 2013. The Rockies won 2-1. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Giants’ June swoon continued Saturday as the Giants’ offensive woes continued in a 2-1 loss to the Rockies.

The loss was the Giants’ sixth in a row. It’s been a long time since Giants fans have witnessed certain things. Consider …

  • Last time the Giants won a game in Colorado — May 16, an 8-6 win. Since then, the Giants have dropped their last five games at Coors. In their last four losses at Denver, the Giants have scored a total of four runs.
  • Last RBI by anyone other than Buster Posey: Andres Torres’ RBI single in the 9th on Tuesday (since then all runs scored on two-run homer by Posey on Thursday, solo homer by Posey on Friday and RBI double by Posey on Saturday).
  • Last time Giants had more than two runs on the board by the end of the sixth inning — Monday, June 17 vs. Padres (12 games ago)
  • Last time a Giant came to the plate with the Giants holding the lead — Friday, June 21 (8 games ago) when Giants led 3-1 in the fifth during a 6-3 loss to Marlins (the Giants beat the Marlins 2-1 the next day, but that came on a walk-off hit to give Giants the lead for first time)
  • Last time Giants enjoyed a three-run lead — Saturday, June 15 (14 games ago) when Giants led 5-2 in the sixth inning vs. the Braves, a game they would end up losing 6-5.
  • Last time the Giants won a game on the raod — Friday, June 14, a 6-0 win over the Braves. The Giants have lost 7 straight on the road since.
  • Last time Buster Posey did not start a game — Monday, June 17. He’s started 11 games since, including three at first base (June 21, June 26 and June 29). He may very well be at first base again Sunday against the left-hander Drew Pomeranz.

How many San Francisco Giants are leading vote-getters at their position for All-Star Game? NONE!

San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval (48) hits a solo home run against Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen (54) during the third inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Sunday, May 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

San Francisco Giants’ Pablo Sandoval (48) hits a solo home run against Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen (54) during the third inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Sunday, May 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

What’s going on with the San Francisco Giants fans?

Are they depressed by the team’s recent hitting woes? Have they let the team’s string of injuries drag them down?

Or are they simply laying in the weeds to make another big last-minute surge in the polls like they did last year?

Whatever the explanation, they haven’t gotten out the vote so far. And if the voting for the All-Star Game ended today, here’s how many Giants would be in the starting lineup for the Midsummer’s Classic …

None. Nada. Zilch. A big fat goose eggs (and we are not talking about Pablo Sandoval).

David Wright of the Mets has surpassed Pablo Sandoval as the top vote-getter among third basemen, and Yadier Molina of the Cardinals has passed Buster Posey as the leader among NL catchers.

Molina, in fact, is the leading vote-getter among all NL players with almost 3.6 million votes. Oddly enough, Posey is the second-leading vote-getter for all NL players with a little more than 3.5 million votes.

Last year, Posey set the record for the most votes received by any player elected to the All-Star game with more than 7.6 million votes. A huge chunk of those votes came in the final week of balloting — all of which was done online — when Giants fans flooded the ballots to elect Posey, Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval as NL all-star starters.

Voting for the 2013 All-Star Game will continue through July 4, so there’s plenty of time for another Giant surge of votes.

And it’s not like Giants fans aren’t voting. Four Giants are the No. 2 vote-getters at their positions.

In addition to Posey, Sandoval trails Wright at third base (2.92 million to 2.79 million), Marco Scutaro trails Brandon Phillips at second base (2.6 million to 2.27 million) and Brandon Crawford trails Troy Tulowitzki (3.1 million to 1.76 million). Additionally, Brandon Belt is fourth at first base (behind Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt and Allen Craig). In the outfield, Hunter Pence is 8th, Angel Pagan 10th and Gregor Blanco is 13th.

It’s hard to ignore that Cardinals fans are getting the vote out. There are only two teams that have players listed among the top five at every infield position and all three outfield candidates listed in the top 13 — the Giants and the Cardinals.

Allen Craig is No. 3 at first base, Matt Carpenter is No. 3 at second base, Pete Freakin Kozma is No. 4 at shortstop, David Freese is third at third base, Molina leads at catcher and in the outfielder, Carlos Betran is No. 1, Matt Holliday is No. 6 and Jon Jay is No. 12.

San Francisco Giants’ home skid to Marlins ends with a dunker

San Francisco Giants' Hector Sanchez, right, celebrates with teammate Marco Scutaro after Sanchez drove in the game-winning run with a bases-loaded single against the Miami Marlins during the 11th inning of a baseball game on Saturday, June 22, 2013, in San Francisco. San Francisco won 2-1 in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants’ Hector Sanchez, right, celebrates with teammate Marco Scutaro after Sanchez drove in the game-winning run with a bases-loaded single against the Miami Marlins during the 11th inning of a baseball game on Saturday, June 22, 2013, in San Francisco. San Francisco won 2-1 in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The last time the San Francisco Giants beat the Marlins in San Francisco, it took extra innings. And it took extra innings to end the streak on Saturday.

The 11th-inning run rally Saturday for the Giants in a 2-1 win over the Miami Marlins was truly the definition of a scratch-it-out win.

The Giants loaded the bases in the 11th inning without hitting the ball out of the infield. Then they won the game on a bloop single down the left-field line by a hitter batting under .200 — Hector Sanchez.

And so ends the Marlins’ nine-game winning streak at AT&T Park. Let’s relive it.

The last time the Giants beat the Marlins in San Francisco was on July 28, 2010 when Andres Torres singled home Aaron Rowand with the bases loaded and one out for a 10-9 victory. Clay Hensley was the losing pitcher. Chris Ray, acquired earlier that year in a trade with Texas for Bengie Molina, was the winning pitcher.

Since then it’s been all Marlins.

  • July 29, 2010 — Marlins 5, Giants 0
  • May 24, 2011 — Marlins 5, Giants 1
  • May 25, 2011 — Marlins 7, Giants 6, 12 innings (the Buster Posey injury game)
  • May 26, 2011 — Marlins 1, Giants 0
  • May 1, 2012 — Marlins 2, Giants 1
  • May 2, 2012 — Marlins 3, Giants 2, 10 innings
  • May 3, 2012 — Marlins 3, Giants 2
  • May 4, 2012 — Marlins 6, Giants 4
  • June 20, 2013 — Marlins 2, Giants 1
  • June 21, 2013 — Marlins 6, Giants 3

As you can see, the Giants just don’t score many runs when the Fish come to town.

The Giants could manage only one run for 10 innings Saturday. And the Giants were lucky to get that one run.

After the Marlins perfectly defended a safety squeeze — throwing out Juan Perez at the plate on a bunt by Barry Zito — Zito was allowed to score on a ground-rule double by Gregor Blanco.

Blanco drove the ball deep into triples alley and the ball bounced straight up the wall in right center and apparently was grabbed by a fan. The umpires ruled — with Zito running with two outs — that Zito would have scored on the play.

And they were right. Zito would have scored if the ball had remained in play, but it’s a call that home teams don’t often get when a ball is interfered with. Marlins manager Mike Redmond argued the call and was tossed.

After that ground-rule double by Blanco, the next 15 Giants were retired in order. No baserunners in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. It wasn’t until Joaquin Arias got a two-out bloop single to right in the 10th that the string was broken.

Thanks to some good work by Zito and the bullpen, the Giants were allowed to stay alive into the 11th inning.

The Marlins were shut out for 10 consecutive innings after Ed Lucas’ first-inning home run.

So the Giants won a game the old Giants’ way. With good pitching and just enough offense.

In the 11th, Blanco led off by beating out in infield single. Marco Scutaro bunted him to second. The Marlins surprisingly pitched to Buster Posey, who bounced a ball up the middle that the second baseman was unable to field cleanly and Buster beat it out for another infield single.

After Hunter Pence was walked, Sanchez dropped a flare down the left-field line for the winner.

Whew. And Fish streak is over.

In-N-Out burgers come back to haunt Tim Lincecum

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum throws against the Miami Marlins during the first inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum throws against the Miami Marlins during the first inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

You remember back in the spring of 2011 when Tim Lincecum’s steady diet of double-doubles from In-N-Out was all anyone could talk about?

Well, The Freak has changed his ways and now eats a more healthy diet as he tries to recapture his former Cy Young form.

Lincecum appeared to be closer to his old form as he held the Marlins to one hit through five innings. But in the end, those old In-N-Out burgers came back to bit Timmy on Friday night.

Miami’s Marcell Ozuna delivered a game-tying infield single off Lincecum in the sixth and later drove home the go-ahead run with another hit in the eighth as the Marlins beat the Giants 6-3 on Friday.

The win was inexplicably the Marlins’ ninth in a row at AT&T Park.

Just as surprising was Ozuna’s pre-game meal.

Before batting practice the Marlins rookie downed three In-N-Out cheeseburger and three cookies, although some Miami teammates told a different story.

“My teammates say five (burgers),” Ozuna said. “Just three cheeseburgers and three cookies — 3 for 3. That’s a good deal.”

Ozuna, who delivered a clutch two-run pinch-hit single in Thursday’s win, also make a big defensive play when he threw out Andres Torres trying to stretch a double into a triple in the sixth inning.

Ozuna spoiled another solid start from Lincecum, who sports a June ERA of 2.92. Lincecum also recorded his second career triple two batters after Torres was thrown out at third base.

“It’s about spotting the ball,” he said. “That can be game to game, whether or not you feel you need to dig deeper. Today, pitches were coming out with that extra oomph.”

Pablo Sandoval goes on the disabled list … AGAIN

San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval, right, rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run as Arizona Diamondbacks Martin Prado looks on during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, April 30, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

San Francisco Giants’ Pablo Sandoval, right, rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run as Arizona Diamondbacks Martin Prado looks on during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, April 30, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The San Francisco Giants took another injury hit on Tuesday when they placed third baseman Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list.

There was a little bit of confusion over the nature of the injury. Giants CEO Larry Baer said on Monday it was a hairline fracture in his foot. The Giants corrected that on Tuesday, saying that the MRI revealed a previous hairline fractured that had healed. The team says the nature of the injury is a strained tendon in his foot.

Sandoval hurt his foot back in late May and aggravated it on Friday. The Giants feel that two weeks off is the only way for Sandoval to heal and expect him back with the team on June 24 when his 15 days are up.

Because of the shortest possible DL stint, the Giants are going to fill Sandoval’s vacancy with a combination of Joaquin Arias taking over the starting role at third base and Tony Abreu and Nick Noonan as backups. Noonan was recalled from Triple-A Fresno after only playing one game for the Grizzlies after his recent demotion.

“With (Arias) and Noonan and Abreu, we can ham-and-egg this until we get Pablo back,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

When asked to comment, Sandoval said “Mmmmm, jamon y huevos.”

OK, OK, we like to have fun with the Sandoval’s weight, but the Giants say there is no way of telling if the Panda’s girth had anything to do with the injury.

But the Giants did want Sandoval to work on his conditioning during his DL stint. Why? Well, obviously Sandoval’s fitness has been a problem since spring training. Unlike previous offseasons, Sandoval didn’t spend time last winter trying to shed pounds.

Plus, he’s put on weight during his previous stints on the DL. He added pounds when he broke his hamate bone in one hand in 2011, when broke his OTHER hamate bone in 2012, when he pulled his hamstring in 2012.

In the meantime, the Giants will turn to Arias. Arias did a nice job filling in for Sandoval last season, which earned him a spot on the team all the way through the postseason.

He has not done much this season, hitting .220. But he also has been limited to 10 starts. He got off to a very cold start, but is hitting .276 over the past four weeks.

There has been some chatter about the Giants bringing up another third baseman to replace Sandoval’s bat, but there really aren’t any plausible options.

I saw someone mention Adam Duvall, who is playing third base at Double-A Richmond. But he’s only played 27 games above Class A, and those all came this year as Duvall missed time this season with an injury.

What?!? Only two San Francisco Giants leading All-Star voting?

San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey pushes a ground ball single to right field  in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego, Saturday, April 27, 2013. (AP photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey pushes a ground ball single to right field in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego, Saturday, April 27, 2013. (AP photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

San Francisco Giants fans should be ashamed.

The first results of All-Star voting was released Tuesday and two Giants — catcher Buster Posey and third baseman Pablo Sandoval — lead their position in NL voting.

After last season, when the Giants had three players voted as NL All-Star starters and several other less-than-deserving players finish high at their position in the voting, the first release of numbers may be a surprise.

Only two Giants lead their positions? Well, actually, several Giants are faring well in early voting in 2013. Three players — Marco Scutaro, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt — are second at their position. Hunter Pence is sixth among outfielders.

Buster Posey is the leading vote-getter among NL players, by almost 100,000 votes over Atlanta’s B.J. Upton.

Generally, the biggest movement in vote totals comes in the final week of ballotting. But so far in the early going, the Giants are in good position.

Here are the leaders at each position and where the Giants currently stand.

CATCHER
1. Buster Posey, Giants, 1,275,956
2. Yadier Molina, Cardinals 938,911

FIRST BASE
1. Joey Votto, Reds, 1, 044,742
2. Brandon Belt, Giants, 513,371

SECOND BASE
1. Brandon Phillips, Reds, 1,019,240
2. Marco Scutaro, Giants, 801,754

SHORTSTOP
1. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, 1,025,844
2. Brandon Crawford, Giants, 668,140

THIRD BASE
1. Pablo Sandoval, Giants, 1,094,475
2. David Wright, Mets, 967,299

OUTFIELD
1. Justin Upton, Braves, 1,184,249
2. Bryce Harper, Nationals, 1,182,532
3. Ryan Braun, Brewers, 945,665
6, Hunter Pence, Giants, 624,972
8, Angel Pagan, Giants, 572,400
11. Gregor Blanco, Giants, 475,662

MoreSplashHits hates to say ‘I told you so’ about Chad Gaudin, but …

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Chad Gaudin throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, June 2, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Chad Gaudin throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, June 2, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

We’ve been busy here at MoreSplashHits over the past two weeks, so we haven’t been blogging much.

But the last time we posted on the blog we discussed options to replace Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation.

For those of you missed it, our conclusion was Chad Gaudin was the best option.

Bruce Bochy decided to go with Mike Kickham in his major league debut last Tuesday against the A’s.

And as you’ll recall, it didn’t go so well. And that shouldn’t be a big surprise. Making the adjustment from Triple-A to the big leagues is not easy for pitchers.

Mistakes become home runs in the big leagues. That isn’t always the case in the minors. In the minors, you’ll see more hitters who will help you out of a jam than in the bigs.

Those two lessons were taught to Kickham in his start on Tuesday, and they were the reasons he could not make it out of the third inning. After his one start, Kickham was sent back to Triple-A and he’ ll make a start for Fresno on Monday. It’s worth keeping an eye on him. We think he’ll be back with the big club soon as the need arises.

After Kickham exited on Tuesday, who came in to carry the pitching load? Chad Gaudin.

While Gaudin hadn’t started a game since 2008, his work in the bullpen this season in long relief made him seem like the best option. The Giants have a lot of good relievers in Fresno, and it seemed like the best move to start Gaudin and call up someone from Fresno to fill his void in the bullpen.

The Giants went with their Plan A (Kickham) and it didn’t work. They went with Plan B (Gaudin) on Sunday, and it did work.

No surprise to us.

Gaudin pitched six solid innings, giving up only a two-run home run to David Freese in the fourth inning, in a 4-2 win over the Cardinals.

Sunday’s performance earned Gauin another start on Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s a decision that’s a little odd, since the Giants have three days off over the next eight days, meaning the Giants don’t need a No. 5 starter until June 15.

By pitching him on Sunday, it seems that Bochy intends to throw Gaudin in the No. 5 spot all month. On June 11, the Giants begin a stretch in which they play 16 games in 16 days, a stretch in which Gaudin would make three starts.

So while we like the Giants’ decision to go with Gaudin in the rotation, we question the decision to not use the off days to skip his spot in the rotation.

Hopefully that decision won’t come back to bite Bochy, too.

Ryan Vogelsong out 4-6 weeks with broken finger; what are the options?

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong grabs his hand after being hit by a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of a baseball game on Monday, May 20, 2013 in San Francisco. Vogelsong left the game after the game. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong grabs his hand after being hit by a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of a baseball game on Monday, May 20, 2013 in San Francisco. Vogelsong left the game after the game. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Last season, the Giants have five pitchers make 30 or more starts. No team has done that in back-to-back seasons in about 30 years.

And the Giants won’t be doing it again.

Ryan Vogelsong, in the midst of easily his best start of the season, broke two bones in the pinkie of his pitching hand when he was hit by a pitch while swinging at the ball.

Vogelsong will have surgery on his hand Tuesday and is expected to be out four to six weeks. That would put his return date in early July.

“It stinks,” Vogelsong said. ” Especially because it’s been so rough. To go out there and feel like my old self again … it stinks.”

Vogelsong pitched five shutout innings against the Nationals, giving up three hits with two strikeouts.

After Vogelsong’s last start in Toronto, there was talk about taking him out of the rotation. After five innings Monday, it appeared that Vogelsong had put to rest that discussion.

Now, the Giants must consider options. Here are a couple.

CHAD GAUDIN: Gaudin was signed last offseason to work as a long man out of the bullpen — something the Giants have gone without frequently in recent seasons — and a spot starter. Gaudin has been very good out of the pen, posting a 2.10 ERA in 25.2 innings. Gaudin has made 75 starts over his 11-year career, but none since 2009 with the Yankees. He also had a 72-pitch relief appearance in Vogelsong’s previous start in Toronto. Manager Bruce Bochy said Gaudin is a candidate, but added that he likes his value as a long reliever.

YUSMEIRO PETIT: Petit was considered a candidate for the rotation when Barry Zito struggled in spring training last season. And he was one of only two pitchers not named Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Zito or Vogelsong to start a game for the Giants last season. But he is 2-3 with 6.69 ERA at Triple-A Fresno and has allowed nine home runs. But but he also has 46 strikeouts against just nine walks.

SHANE LOUX: Loux has been Fresno’s most consistent starter at 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA. But his stuff doesn’t really translate into big-league stuff. He made a brief stint with the Giants last season, posting a 4.97 ERA in 25.1 innings.

CHRIS HESTON: The Giants had hoped Heston, the 2012 Eastern League pitcher of the year, would be the next arm produced in the system. But his transition to Triple-A has been bumpy. He’s 5-2 with 5.33 ERA. He gave up three runs in 5.0 to 6.2 innings in six of his nine starts. He got tagged for 5 runs in 5 innings in one other start, and seven innings in 3 innings in another. But he had his best start in his most recent start, giving up 0 runs on 3 hits in 7 innings.

MIKE KICKHAM: The lefty had a rough spring, then got off to a slow start at Fresno. He’s 2-4 with a 4.72 ERA. But in his last four starts, he’s 2-1 with 1.80 ERA with 25 strikeouts against six walks.

WHAT MORESPLASHHITS THINKS: The Giants should start with Gaudin. Yeah, he’s been good out of the pen, but the Giants have a lot of good relievers down in Fresno: Dan Runzler, Steve Edlefsen, Ramon Ramirez, Sandy Rosario or Jake Dunning. They could even call up Loux to work as the new long man.

And please, Bochy, use the schedule in your favor. The Giants have four days off in June, including three in an eight-day stretch (June 3-10). Even if Bochy doesn’t take advantage of Thursday’s day off — which would only gain them a couple of days — Gaudin could start on Sunday and May 31, then he wouldn’t be needed again until June 15.

If Vogelsong returns quickly (four weeks), the Giants would only need three starts from Gaudin (or any fifth starter). If Vogey’s hiatus is on the longer side (six weeks), it would be five starts IF they use the days off to skip the No. 5 starter.

That’s the best plan.

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