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9:43PM

Giants: Glass half full, bleachers half empty

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — So we deal with that question of whether the glass is half full or the bleachers are half empty, which they were again Wednesday at AT&T Park when the Giants played well enough to tease but not to win.

These are new times for the San Francisco nine. You lose nearly 100 games, you’re not thinking of championships — unless your brain is half empty — but of progress.

And although the home stand ended with a 7-3 loss to the Goldschmidts, a.k.a., the Diamondbacks, the Giants seem to be improved.

They are 5-6 in this young season. A year ago after 11 games they were 4-7. One small step for the Giants, one big leap for, well, not Hunter Pence, who has lurched and swung (and missed) his away to a .194 batting average so far.

Of course, one of the new guys in town, Evan Longoria, is — yikes —hitting .132.  What’s with these free agents who changed teams and leagues? Longoria and the guy the Giants wanted but didn’t get, Giancarlo Stanton, about to strike out more in two weeks than Joe DiMaggio did in a season?  

Yes, the Giants need power, as verified again by losing to Arizona. On Tuesday night, slumping Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs hit a ball nearly to Alameda, although the Giants managed to win.

On Wednesday, he hit another just as far for another homer and one far enough for a double, prompting a journalist to semi-seriously ask Giants manager Bruce Bochy whether Goldschmidt ought to be walked at every at bat, as opponents once did with Barry Bonds.

“He was one of the coldest hitters when he came here,” Bochy said of Goldschmidt, who still is only at .190 with two homers. “He took advantage of some mistakes, some pitches up in the strike zone. But the guy behind him (A.J. Pollock) has been swinging the bat pretty good (now .283), and you don’t want to start putting a lot of guys on right away.”

The Giants had their own guys on, early, and Buster Posey hit a two-run homer to tie the game, 3-3, in the fifth. But San Francisco is missing its three top starting pitchers, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, forcing new kids to start and everyone to work in relief.

The new kids, Tyler Beede on Tuesday night and Andrew Suarez on Wednesday, both making their major league debuts, weren’t bad at all. The bullpen? Can we talk about the attendance (35,041)? Yes, a new era.

In six of their 11 games, the Giants have scored two runs or fewer. So after the Wednesday defeat, someone asked Bochy about the offense, as it were. “These guys are too good,” he replied, implying the hitters will hit eventually.

On the trip, the Giants play the Padres, the Diamondbacks (yes, again) and then the Angels. Scoring a run or two against Los Angeles or Arizona won’t be enough.

“Hunter Pence’s timing is off,” said Bochy, still believing his outfielder can overcome the years and the injuries. “He’s pulling out a little bit. Maybe he’s trying to hit home runs.”

He doesn’t have a single one.

What Sam Dyson is trying to do as a relief pitcher is get batters out when runners are on. In the top of the sixth, he failed. Replacing Suarez after Ketel Marte doubled, Dyson faced Goldschmidt, who banged one off the left field fence for his own double, an RBI and a D-backs lead.

“He’s been up and down,” Bochy said of Dyson. “He’s a guy with experience. We put him in a tight ballgame. We’ve got to get him on track. I’d like to think he’s going to find his game here. That pitch to Goldschmidt was nowhere near where he wanted it.

“This bullpen has been taxed quite a bit. He knew we needed him.“

That they do. They need everybody. They also need a man who can hit home runs like Paul Goldschmidt.

 

7:45AM

S.F. Examiner: Opening Day reminder of last season’s woes

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

PHOENIX — Somewhere beyond the usual platitudes and justifications, the expected words that it was only one game and yes, baseball can be bewilderingly strange, is the unavoidable fact the Giants started the 2017 season exactly the way they ended the 2016 season: With a massive bullpen failure.

Say what you want, and what manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday was true to his character, that the Giants should have scored more, that the Arizona Diamondbacks had some good fortune — “seeing-eye hits,” is the phrase — and that a couple of calls by the umpires could have, more specifically, should have gone the other way.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner

9:24AM

S.F. Examiner: Optimism escapes Bochy as Giants lose fifth-straight

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

He’s normally a man of silver linings and orange-and-black optimism. Bruce Bochy has spent a career believing everything’s not as grim as the rest of you would think. But there was a different Bochy after the Giants, his San Francisco’s Giants, were smacked around again Thursday by the Arizona Diamondbacks, a Bochy whose frustration could be sensed, whose disappointment could be heard.

Baseball, we’re told, is a game of ups and downs. There have been no ups for the Giants of late.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner 

9:15AM

Giants do everything they can to lose

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants did everything they could to lose it. And succeeded.
  
Just one of 162, certainly, and there are going to be games like this, but, full of errors and other misplays, particularly worrisome nonetheless.
   
Maybe former Giants shortstop and current Comcast TV commentator Rich Aurilia was a bit strong when, after an erratic top of the 11th inning Tuesday that made the difference in Arizona’s 6-4 win, he tweeted, “Terrible baseball in this half inning.”
    
Strong but hardly inaccurate.
   
He was referring to Andres Torres watching a ball fall for a double in that half inning, then an error by first baseman Brandon Belt on a one-bounce throw from Pablo Sandoval, then a wild pitch by Santiago Casilla.
  
“We probably should have been better there,” said Bruce Bochy, the Giants’ manager.
   
Matt Cain, the Giants’ starter, still searching for the dominance of last season, also probably should have been better there.
  
He had some bad breaks — the first batter of the game was safe on one of the three errors San Francisco would make. And then against the nemesis, Paul Goldschmidt, he made a bad pitch in the third inning, a pitch that was immediately turned into two-run homer.
  
Bochy, always the optimist, didn’t seem displeased with Cain, who went six innings without a decision and still is winless in 2013.
  
“He threw well at times,” said Bochy of Cain, who struck out six and allowed five hits. “Matt settled down. One pitch got away. It was a mistake, and that was against a guy who did some damage.”
  
It was the Arizona starter, Patrick Corbin, who was doing damage to the Giants. He retired the first nine betters in order and gave up only three hits through seven innings.
  
San Francisco, with Brandon Crawford tripling to center, however, picked up two runs in the eighth, and then Brandon Belt, pinch-hitting for Joaquin Arias, homered into McCovey Cove in the ninth to make it 4-4.
  
The usual sellout crowd at AT&T, the 177th straight, shook off its torpor and the icicles (summer left in late morning), screaming, chanting and thinking that as Monday night the home team would find a way.
   
Yes, as Bochy says virtually every game, these Giants, the World Series Champion Giants, prove resilient. But also at times, they tend to inefficient.
  
You can shrug off Sandoval getting thrown out by what, 20 feet or 25, attempting to score from second on Hunter Pence’s two-out single to right. It was the onetime Giant, Cody Ross, who cut him down. It was the third base coach, Tim Flannery, who sent him home.
  
“A two-out base hit,” said Bochy, whose managerial skills are rarely questioned, “you try to score. Ross charged it well. That’s part of the game.”
  
Part of this game, a huge part, was the Giants looking bewildered at the plate against the left-handed Corbin and incompetent with the gloves against the ground balls.
  
Three errors mean the other team figuratively gets 30 outs instead of 27. And wild pitches with a man on third in a tie game are ruination.
  
As Bochy said, you play enough games and those things occur. But for a team constructed upon pitching and with only one starter, Sandoval, who could be timed by an hourglass, hitting at least .300, when errors and errant pitches occur, too often you lose.
  
The Giants had won seven in a row at AT&T, and since baseball is a game of averages, surely they were due to drop one. It’s the way they dropped it that causes dyspepsia.
    
In the mind’s eye there’s Sandoval, rumbling into the end of an inning — yes, we’ll shrug it off — then moments later Casilla bouncing a ball as if he were a bowler in cricket rather than a pitcher in baseball.
  
Maybe the Giants should find satisfaction that, for a second straight game against the Diamondbacks, they rallied. But this time, it only extended the time until the eventual disappointment.
  
Bochy was asked why he allows his starting pitchers to stay in a game when they don’t appear to be particularly sharp, but it’s obvious. They are the strength of this Giants team, even on nights when they’re not particularly strong. Besides, he doesn’t want to overwork his bullpen.
  
“They’ve earned the right to stay in,” Bochy reminded, not that anyone who’s studied the Giants needed reminding. “You’re going to allow your guys to work.”
    
Cain worked, and that’s a good description. It wasn’t easy. He left trailing by four runs. The Giants managed to get those four and get even. After that, it was an embarrassment and a defeat.

9:33AM

SF Examiner: Sun appears to be setting on Giants' season, Venus Williams’ career

By Art Spander
Special to The Examiner


It was here in the Big Apple 60 years ago that Chuck Dressen, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, declared in a statement that some English teachers defended on the grounds a team is a collective noun, “The Giants is dead.”

The New York Giants weren’t — coming back from a 13½-game August deficit to force a playoff with the Dodgers, which resulted in the “Shot Heard ’Round the World,” by Bobby Thomson.



Read the full story here.

Copyright 2011 SF Newspaper Company