Entries in Giants (199)


Bochy on the Giants: ‘I like to think this was a start’

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — Still learning. “That’s the goal,” said Buster Posey, "to learn.” About the Giants, and himself. To learn how to improve, and even for a former MVP, a World Series hero, the education never stops.

For Buster. For manager Bruce Bochy. For the fans, after a week of successful baseball that finally arrived after too many weeks of failing baseball.

They learned, and we learned, that for a few games at least the Giants were able to combine pitching and hitting, play as they once played, play — yes — as they were supposed to be playing.

They won five in a row, five out of seven on a home stand that concluded Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park with a defeat, not surprising since the other team was the Dodgers and the other pitcher was Clayton Kershaw.

“He was his usual good self,” said Bochy, an understatement of sorts. Pitched the first seven innings. Didn’t allow a run. Impossible to win if you don’t score, although the Giants finally did, on an Eduardo Nunez bases-empty home run off of ex-Giant Sergio Romo in the ninth. It was a bit of face-saving in a 6-1 defeat.

In effect, the game was over in the first when Yasmani Grandal doubled in two runs off of Johnny Cueto. Kershaw with a 2-0 lead before two innings had been played? “Very tough,” said Bochy.

Two words that apply to the Giants' road trip, which starts Friday at St. Louis and then goes to Chicago. The Cardinals are in first in the National League Central. The Cubs are World Series Champions. Posey will learn something about the Giants.

“I like to think this was a start,” said Bochy of the home stand. “We lost the opener (falling 12 games below .500), and everyone is thinking we’re out of it.

“The thing I liked is we played Giants baseball. We were in games, got quality pitching, which gave us a chance.”

In the previous few games, at Cincinnati and New York, they barely had a chance, losing 13-3, 14-2 and 6-1. The return to San Francisco, to AT&T, a pitcher’s park, changed scores and perhaps attitudes.

“We kept people away from the big inning,” said Bochy. “The thing I like about this team is there’s a sense of confidence. We just have to keep playing the way we have been.

What appeared to be a reminder of the historic Dodgers-Giants rivalry popped up — in a manner of speaking — in the third. Cueto, possibly upset with himself after giving up the first-inning hits on two-strike counts, yelled at Grandal in the third for stealing signs from Posey after the first-inning double. An inside pitch, and like that both dugouts and bullpens emptied. And that was it.

In fact, Kershaw walked through the three dozen or so players from both teams that, as is the situation in most baseball confrontations, were just grabbing or yelling and marched to the mound to take his warm-ups for the bottom of the inning.

After the game, Grandal and Cueto (now 4-3) apologized to each other. No ejections, no fines and, for the usual sellout crowd at AT&T Park, no real excitement.

“It caught me by surprise,” Grandal said of the Cueto pitch, and no, he wouldn’t dare steal a sign and relay it to a batter, one of the many unwritten rules of a sport that has many.

“We talked about it,” said Grandal, the Dodgers' catcher. “We apologized, so we’re on good terms, I guess. Let’s not make it a larger deal than it really is.”

Everything between the Giants and Dodgers is large. San Francisco fans have forever chanted “Beat L.A.” Dodgers fans, and, wow, were there great numbers at AT&T, many of them hoisting a blue banner that covered much of the right centerfield bleachers, shouted “Let’s go, Dodgers.”

On Wednesday, after losing Monday and Tuesday, the Dodgers went. It’s obvious they’re a very good team. The Giants? We, and they, still are learning.


S.F. Examiner: After finally winning three straight, maybe the Giants are on to something

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

AT&T PARK — Maybe. That’s the only appropriate word. Maybe the Giants are about to play as everyone thought, as their manager Bruce Bochy conceded, to expectations. Maybe the breakout — their first three-game win streak of this so-far rotten season — is an indication.

Or maybe it’s just a tease.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner 


Bochy on consecutive 2-1 games: ‘That’s who we are’

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — That’s who they are. Bruce Bochy said it about the Giants. He didn’t mean losing to the Dodgers, as they did, 2-1, Tuesday night. He meant pitching well and fielding well and having chances to win, unlike those three games at the end of last week against the Rockies in Denver.

The Giants, built on pitching, desperate for hitting, lacked both in those games, losing them 12-3 and 8-0, respectively. That can happen at Coors Field, said Bochy.

But it didn’t happen for the Giants, just against them, against a staff that is supposedly among the best in baseball but last in the National League with an earned run average above 5. After two beautifully pitched games at AT&T Park against L.A., a 2-1 win followed by a 2-1 defeat, their ERA is still is up there at 4.39.

You allow only three runs total in two games, win or loss, and you can’t be displeased. Bochy wasn’t. The way Matt Cain pitched Monday, then Ty Blach — the spot starter, filling in for Madison Bumgarner — pitched Tuesday, had Bochy believing once again.

Had he been on the mound, and not on the disabled list — you do know about that dirt bike accident, of course — Bumgarner couldn’t have pitched much better or had much less offensive support than Blach. Then again, the guy starting and starring for the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw, is a Cy Young Award winner.

“All we ask,” said Bochy, “is our starters give us a chance to win.” Blach, a lefty like Bumgarner — and Kershaw — certainly did that. He also doubled to lead off the third, then after a couple of strikeouts scored the game’s first run on Buster Posey’s single. That the Dodgers, quality team that they are, responded with two runs in the top of the fourth, showed why L.A. is the favorite in National League West.

In this agonizing season of injuries and inconsistency —  on Tuesday night, Brandon Crawford strained his right groin rounding first base after a single in the eighth — the Giants are trying to stay close and relevant. And, reminded Bochy, play their style of baseball, keeping in the game, as they did against the Dodgers, as they didn’t do against the Rockies.

They brought up the kid everyone thinks will be the star of the future, the next Buster Posey, infielder Christian Arroyo — only a few days after the front office said he would stay in the minors for a while. On Tuesday, Arroyo, 21, got his first major league hit, off the brilliant Kershaw, no less. His family was in the stands.

An omen for the Giants? Could be. As the injury to Crawford could be. Posey was out with a possible concussion. Cain pulled a hamstring. Bumgarner tumbling on his pitching arm and destined to miss two months. So much pain, and very little gain.

Crawford was to travel Wednesday to southern California to attend family services for his sister-in-law, who died last week. He would be on bereavement leave for three days. Bochy hoped Crawford would get an MRI before departing, but Crawford didn’t think it would be possible given time constraints.

“I’ve never had anything like this before,” said Crawford about the injury, “so I can’t tell you how bad it is.”

The other day, after losing four in a row, one to Kansas City and then the three to Colorado, the question was how bad the Giants might be. In the clubhouse Sunday, Bochy, invariably upbeat, sighed, “We’re not very good.” Then, maybe realizing how that sounded in just the third week of the season, added, “Right now.”

The two games at home against the Dodgers proved an antidote, a reassurance. “Ty did a real nice job,” he said of Blach. “He had his pitches going. It was a hard-fought, well-pitched game by both guys.

“This is our type of game. Two to one, close games, that’s who we are.”


S.F. Examiner: Bumgarner winless in three starts

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

Buster’s on the disabled list, if only momentarily. Mad Bum is on the outs with fortune. Brandon Belt is, well, struggling is the kind way to phrase it, although, glorioski he did get a hit after going, ooh, 0-for-18. Oh, those odd-year blues for the Giants.

Yes, the season isn’t two weeks old, and a year ago San Francisco started beautifully and ended less so, proving over 162 games and six months a great deal can change, sometimes for the better as opposed to 2016 when it was for the worse.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner


More odd-year agony for the Giants

By Art Spander

It’s an odd year, isn’t it? We should stop there, when it comes to the San Francisco Giants. It isn’t so much that in even years, at least three of them, everything goes right and the Giants win World Series.

It’s that in odd years too much goes wrong.

Buster Posey was run over at home plate in May 2011; he missed the rest of the season. Hunter Pence’s arm was broken by a pitch in spring training 2015; he never was completely healthy throughout the year.

And now, Posey again, in 2017. Hit by a pitch two days ago, the first home game of the season. Put on the disabled list with a concussion.

Odd years aren’t a jinx, they’re a curse. For the Giants, there’s nothing odd about the odd years, there’s something evil. Already they’re in a hole. And they had Buster.

A terrible opening week, losing every game except one. Now they lose Buster, who’s drilled in the head.

The Giants will take no chances with Posey, their main man, their cleanup hitter, their star. Nor should they. After Posey was run over at the plate in 2011, Major League Baseball changed a rule, providing catchers more protection. But that’s on defense.

In the National League, everyone comes to bat, and even wearing a helmet is vulnerable. Posey was unable to duck a Taijuan Walker fastball.

A pitcher’s job is to keep a hitter off balance, to instill fear. He throws inside, usually without any repercussion — or concussion. This inside pitch at 94 mph couldn’t be escaped.

“The fact he is a catcher, taking shots, it doesn’t take a lot,” said Bruce Bochy, the Giants manager, of being properly wary about bringing Posey back too soon.

Bochy knows. He was a catcher. We all know. The year Bochy took control of the Giants, 2007, their catcher the previous season, Mike Matheny, retired because of concussion symptoms, headaches and dizziness. That was a decade ago. Now Matheny is manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

"This is not a shoulder, a knee or an elbow,” Matheny explained on making the decision to quit playing.

"We're talking about the brain. ... I didn't expect this. I don't think anybody did."

Ten years later we have learned so much more, from studies of NFL players and athletes in other contact sports. Talking about the brain? All those stories of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Catchers are jarred by foul tips off their mask, dangerous for a man recovering from a head injury.

“You get hit in the head,” said Bochy, “it doesn’t take a lot.”

So Posey is out a week. At least. Are the Giants so quickly out of contention?

“I think we’re better able to withstand this short-term,” said Bobby Evans, the Giants' general manager. “We’re going to exercise caution.”

Nothing is more important than a person’s health. Whether it’s Buster Posey, an MVP, or a lesser player, the responsibility is to the individual. The Giants, a caring organization, will err on the safe side.

“I don’t anticipate it being a long time,” Posey said. “That’s based on how I feel.”

Also how the medical people feel. Football players, in the vernacular, would talk about “having their bell rung.” Trainers would show a hand and ask how many fingers were being held up. A correct answer would get the player back into the game.

Then two days later, the man would complain about headaches, about reacting slowly. Now the majority of sports have developed what is called concussion protocol, applied before an athlete can be cleared.

“Obviously,” Posey admitted, “we’ve seen some guys with lingering effects. Again, I feel pretty good.”

Pretty good, however, isn’t good enough.

“I think it was a smart move,” Posey conceded about being placed on the DL, “especially being a catcher and having the one (Monday), and you never know if you’ll get some more.”

In this odd year, the Giants — struggling, without Buster Posey for even a few days — don’t need any more.