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2:04PM

Just another game for Giants — and just another loss

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — Just another game. That’s what it was for the Giants. Another game and, yes, another defeat, if at home as opposed to the one the day before on the road.

For the Giants, it is obvious, it doesn’t matter who they play or where they play — or in many games, how they play.

In fact, Monday night they played well, relatively speaking. They had fine pitching, especially by starter Drew Pomeranz. He made only one mistake. At another time, the mistake is irrelevant. But for the Giants of 2019, there are no irrelevant mistakes.

The Colorado Rockies beat the Giants, 2-0, Monday night at Oracle Park. The runs came on a home run in the third by David Dahl with Charlie Blackmon on second. Blackmon had a bloop double and Dahl’s homer barely cleared the left field fence.

But those guys can hit. They’re both batting .300-something. Nobody on the Giants can hit, other than Pablo Sandoval. Which is why San Francisco scored no runs after scoring only two runs on Sunday against the Diamondbacks.

Two runs in 18 innings. Not exactly overwhelming.

Just another game in what sadly isn’t going to be just another season. It’s not even July and the Giants are 11 games under .500.

Attendance already is rotten (tickets sold Monday night, 30,018; people in house, maybe 20,000). Where do the Giants go from here?

The main man, Larry Baer, is supposed be back from his suspension at the end of the month to provide leadership. Is it too late to sign Bryce Harper? Sorry.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy came out to face the media after this one, as he always does every game. Poor Bruce, in this lame-duck season. Poor Giants, in this going-nowhere season.

Bochy has too much class to be rude or abrasive like Mickey Callaway of the Mets, a franchise at war with itself. So Bruce simply offers platitudes and occasionally, as when asked why in the fifth he pinch hit for Pomeranz — who equaled a career-high with 11 strikeouts — an explanation.

It was a necessity, that’s why. There was a runner on second — Joe Panik had doubled — and one out. Brandon Belt became the batter instead of Pomeranz and walked. But then Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson each struck out.

Yaz and Dickerson could be part of the new wave, if there is going to be a new wave. Each came up from Sacramento within the past few weeks. Might as well learn what they can do. When you’re not very good, why not make some changes?

The dreaded Dodgers keep hitting home runs and winning. About the only thing the Giants seem able to hit is rock bottom. 

In the seventh, with Panik on first and two outs Yastrzemski doubled to left. Panik was sent home. You have to gamble now and then. The throw clearly beat the runner who was called out, but might have been safe. The Giants can’t win games. The Giants can’t win TV replay decisions, either.

“I didn’t look at it,” said Bochy. “It was that close. The ball beat him, but I don’t know about the tag.” The officials back in New Jersey, doing the review, knew about the tag. Or thought they did.

Pomeranz has been inconsistent this year, but he was sharp Monday night. So, unfortunately for the Giants, was Colorado starter Jon Gray, who in six innings gave up just four hits.

“I just simplified my approach,” said Pomeranz. “I quit trying to set up guys. I didn’t want to walk guys.” On Monday night, he walked two.

“On the home run, I was trying to stay in on him and it just kind of cut back to the middle of the plate. That’s the one pitch I’ll probably think about the rest of the night. That’s baseball. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes one pitch decides the game.”

Even when it’s just another game.

10:18PM

Giants: Now even Bochy seems discouraged

SAN FRANCISCO — Even the manager sounded depressed. For good reason. Yes, Bruce Bochy, eternal optimist, from whom there’s almost never a discouraging word, who rarely says anything downbeat about his players, even when their play seemingly demands it, was sounding all too negative.

These San Francisco Giants, the team Bochy will suffer through this one last season, is playing the sort of ball that is intolerable and, the way it is missing grounders, virtually indefensible.

Now, before end of May, it is legitimate to believe the Giants have reached the end of the road.

Two days ago, they were pathetic, losing — collapsing, if you will — to the Arizona Diamondbacks 18-2. Embarrassing. And then Saturday, the D-Backs again scored in double figures, thumping the Giants 10-4.

The only difference is that Saturday, when the announced attendance was 31,551 at Oracle Park, the fans stayed to the end, enjoying the sunshine and breezes if not the result of a fourth straight loss and fifth in six games.

“It’s hard to put a positive spin on this one,” agreed Bochy.

Other than mentioning the defense of Kevin Pillar, who Saturday was in right, and started a remarkable double play by catching a ball, throwing to Joe Panik who then fired to Brandon Belt to get the runner trying to return to first. Otherwise, the D-Backs would have had more than two runs in the inning.

Not that it really mattered. Arizona just kept slamming balls off and over the fences we’re told are too distant at Oracle — at least for the Giants. The game began, boom, with a Ketel Marte triple off Andrew Suarez. And away they went.

Oh, how times have changed. Five seasons ago the Giants won their third World Series in a stretch of five years. Now they’re not only in last place, they’re boring — other than an inning or three.

No one expected miracles when Farhan Zaidi took control of baseball operations at the end of last season — it was an old team with a poor farm system — but he could have worked some sort of transaction to keep everyone interested.

The former baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, used to advise fans that the entire idea is to provide hope — to keep everyone believing that a team is going to be up there in the final days of the schedule, Right now, the Giants appear to be without hope.

The starting pitching is getting pummeled. The offense is minimal, which is a nice way of saying terrible. The Giants scored three runs in the seventh, although when you’re trailing 10-1 that’s just window dressing. They did get runners on before that. And failed to bring them home.

“We couldn’t keep the line moving,” said Bochy.

How do you fix this mess? Zaidi warned last summer, when he came from the Dodgers to take over the Giants, that he did not believe in the quick fix, although even if he did — you know, signing a zillion-dollar free agent such as Bryce Harper — it was beyond the realm of possibility.

The Chicago Cubs, where tradition and the ballpark, “beautiful Wrigley Field,” were enough to fill the seats, and Houston Astros, who had no tradition but did have a lot of talent in the minors, were willing to go through a complete rebuilding — and each won a World Series.

But places like New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco won’t accept a tear-down and rebuild. They won’t accept losing either. You have to at least be competitive. Or season tickets will tumble along with the ball club.

Bochy did point out the Giants have a fine defensive outfield, anchored by Pillar and Steven Duggar, who Saturday made another one of his airborne catches. Added to those two as of Saturday when he was called up from Sacramento is Mike Yastrzemski, who Giants partisans can only wish will remind all of baseball of his grandfather.

Carl Yastrzemski, now 79, played his entire magnificent career (Triple Crown, Hall of Fame) with the Red Soxand when Mike was in high school gave him a few lessons on the art of hitting. Mike was 0-for-3 Saturday, but that was only Day One.

Maybe the kid comes through. Maybe he doesn’t. For sure it will be more enticing to follow his progress than the lack of progress of his new team, the San Francisco Giants.

11:22AM

Baseball gods, Longoria team to get Giants a win

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — This one goes to the baseball gods. And to Evan Longoria, who wouldn’t have been in the game if Pablo Sandoval, a switch hitter, hadn’t hurt his leg the day before and felt he couldn’t swing righthanded.

“Sometimes it works out,” Bruce Bochy, the Giants' manager agreed, “sometimes it doesn’t.”

In a convoluted sort of way it worked Monday night against the Dodgers, and for the Giants, who had lost three in a row, there could be nobody better against whom something would work.

It was Longoria, “Longo” as everyone calls him, who delivered what arguably was the biggest hit of the year and a month he’s been with the Giants, a bases-loaded double in the bottom of the seventh that scored all three runners and beat the Dodgers, 3-2.

“He needed that hit,” said Bochy. “We needed it.”

Let’s back up to the sixth inning, where the Dodgers scored their two runs in the top half — Cody Bellinger, naturally, drove in one, and his 37 RBI are the most before May in major league history.

In the bottom of the inning, Buster Posey doubled, and with Sandoval coming to the plate, the Dodgers brought in a new pitcher, Scott Alexander, a lefty, which wouldn’t have mattered it Pablo could swing righthanded comfortably.

But he couldn't, so Bochy pinch hit another righthanded batter, Longoria, who plays third base, as Sandoval has been doing in the game.

Longoria, struggling — he’s hitless in his previous 10 at bats — flied out to no one else but Bellinger, a.k.a. Superman. But at least Longo was in the game, and when he came up in the seventh he doubled off Dylan Florio.

Like that, the chants of “Dodgers, Dodgers,”  from what liberally might be called a crowd — only 32,212 fans at the place now called Oracle Park — were replaced by shouts of “Beat L.A.”

“I’ve been waiting for that hit in a Giants uniform,” said Longoria. “It’s been a year. It’s not for a lack of opportunity. I’ve been in situations. I was feeling good. I just haven’t been able to come through.”

Although he grew up in Southern California, Longoria had spent nine years with the Tampa Rays.

“Dodgers-Giants is a huge rivalry,” said Longoria, “but it’s new to me. It gives me chills when you’re out there and hear that kind of enthusiasm from the home crowd.”

Well, the temperature was in the high 50s and a Candlestick-type wind was blowing, but Longoria said that had nothing to do with the chills.

“I know my average is not good, but that doesn’t take away from my mentality in those situations. A bases-loaded double is cool.”

So, he said, is Sandoval starting at third, which is where Longoria normally is positioned.

“Pablo’s been swinging the bat good. I’m here to win. I’m ready off the bench. I’m happy to wait. I’m hitting .200 (actually .210). I can’t go into the office and ask why I’m not starting.”

What some of the media asked was why Bochy took out Giants starter Jeff Samardzija for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning of a 0-0 game. The manager had a quick response.

“We needed to score runs,” said Bochy.

They didn’t immediately, but Samardzija said he had no problem being pulled.

“After losing three in a row (to the Yankees) we needed to do anything to score runs. Another time I’ll go seven, eight innings. Anytime you win a close game, it’s awesome. It builds confidence.”

The Giants still are last in the National League West, hitting is poor and the pitching not what was expected — and now Derek Holland is on the injured list, Ty Blach having been called up from Sacramento.

“This is a game of momentum,” Samardzija said of baseball in general.

Whether the Giants have it is unclear, but they do have a victory over the Dodgers.

Something finally went right.

 

8:35AM

For Giants, on edge, wrong play and wrong pitch lead to defeat

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — They live on the edge. Or, as they did on this Saturday of wind, fog, sunshine and frustration, fall off.

Another team, the Dodgers for example, has the players and the punch to overcome mistakes, a burst of runs correcting whatever failures take place.

But the Giants do not. If they make the wrong call, the wrong play, the wrong pitch, they lose, as they did to the Yankees, 6-4, at Oracle Park.

If it seems the Giants were there, well, they weren’t. Until scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth, which didn’t prevent a second straight loss to New York but looked better cosmetically than getting shut out.

Still, it was a defeat, and shoved the Giants five games below .500, and we haven’t even reached May. Meaning the situation is apt to become a great deal worse, especially with no one in the starting lineup Saturday hitting above .280 and with Mad Bum, Madison Bumgarner, looking like Bad Bum.

But it was Derek Holland who threw the wrong pitches Saturday, most of all an inside fast ball to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth. Sanchez drove the ball 467 feet into the bleachers in left center, and like that, a 2-0 game was a 6-0 game.

Bruce Bochy wanted to take the blame. “It was my fault,” said the Giants' manager. “He (Holland) was ahead in the count, 1-2, and he still had his stuff. I gave him a chance to get through. He was making his pitches. He made a mistake.”

Holland said he deserved to take the blame, not the boss. “We were cruising,” Holland insisted. “One pitch took away a whole game. Those guys (his teammates) fought back. That’s what upsets me the most. Letting them down.”

These are upsetting times around the old ballpark. First is the Giants' incapability. Next is the attendance. There were only 33,071 on hand Saturday at what seemed like a marquee game, Giants-Yankees — and a great many in the crowd were cheering for the Yankees. True, it’s still only April, but it was the only game in the region, the Warriors and Sharks both idle Saturday.

Nobody expects the Giants to get a ton of hits and runs, and even in the championship seasons they won on pitching. Still, with Evan Longoria hitting .206, Brandon Crawford .207 and Buster Posey .247, you’re going to need near perfection from the pitchers. It doesn’t exist.

Bumgarner, who started Friday night, gave up two runs in the first. Bumgarner and Holland, two of the Giants big three, each are 1-4. Those combined eight losses are exactly half of the San Francisco total.

Maybe that’s why Bochy chose to squeeze as much as possible out of Holland, to get him confidence as much as to get the team a win. “But his margin of error is not real big,” said the manager, which of course only reflects the Giants as a whole.

San Francisco invariably is playing from behind, trying to extricate itself from a quick deficit.

The Giants did show resolve in the final inning Saturday, Yangervis Solarte hitting a three-run homer and then pinch hitter Erik Kratz hitting a bases-empty home run.  

“One pitch takes us out of the game,” said a rueful Holland. “I was told by an old pitching coach you’re one pitch from greatness and one pitch from humility.”

These are humbling days for the San Francisco Giants.

8:05AM

A’s a known quantity; Giants? It doesn’t get more S.F.

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

SAN FRANCISCO — The team president has been suspended. The new scoreboard remains unfinished, as presumably is the roster.

And the Giants completed a losing spring getting swept by the other team in town — well, team from the city across the Bay that has labeled itself “The Town.”

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven