Andrew McCutchen joins exclusive clubs with walk-off homer

Andrew McCutchen joins exclusive clubs with walk-off homer

SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey is out of the lineup today after catching 14 innings last night. Brandon Crawford is out because Bruce Bochy preferred Kelby Tomlinson to face clayton Kershaw. Ditto with Pablo Sandoval replacing Brandon Belt. 

But Andrew McCutchen is in there, of course, and he’ll try to keep the good vibes going after one of the best individual games in Giants history. Here’s a rundown of some of what McCutchen did in a 7-5 win Saturday night … 

  •  He became the eighth San Francisco Giant to hit a walk-off homer in the 14th inning or later. Posey was the last one to do it when he walked the Reds off in the 17th inning last year. (The next day he explained it was dad strength.)
  • McCutchen is the first player since Detroit’s Jim Northrup in 1969 to have six hits and a walk-off homer (per Elias).
  • He’s the first since Guillermo Quiroz in 2013 to have his first homer as a Giant be a walk-off. Quiroz also walked off the Dodgers. 
  • He became the fourth San Francisco Giant to have a six-hit game. Crawford, of course, had seven hits against the Marlins two years ago. 
  • McCutchen became the first big leaguer to hit a walk-off with his team trailing in the 14th inning or later since July 11, 2015 … when Andrew McCutchen did it to the Cardinals. 
  • Per Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions, he’s the first big leaguer with a walk-off at least 12 pitches into a plate appearance since John Flaherty of the Rays in 2000. And finally, from Daren Willman of Baseball Savant, that was the longest plate appearance o McCutchen’s career. 

So yeah, that was one hell of a moment. And it led to some varied celebrations. 

--- I wrote last night about the bullpen, and Bochy today raved about Reyes Moronta. He said Moronta has the equipment to throw in the eighth or ninth, he just needs to tighten up his mechanics a bit. At times, he overthrows. 

--- The Giants have hit 10 homers and allowed two. The latter is more impressive, and more important given how often they got hit by the long ball last year. “That’s two mistakes to this point,” Bochy said. “That’s pretty impressive against the guys we’ve seen.”

--- No, Belt was not preparing to pitch last night. Derek Holland had his spikes on and would have followed Roberto Gomez. Instead, Gomez got his first big league win. He had the ball in his locker this morning. 

Down on the Farm: Steven Duggar finds his stride in Sacramento, but where does he fit?


Down on the Farm: Steven Duggar finds his stride in Sacramento, but where does he fit?

Bruce Bochy compared him to Steve Finley in spring training. Talks of future Gold Glove awards were heard all around the desert. He even hit a dinger against the Dodgers. 

Steven Duggar grabbed the spotlight in Scottsdale and he's starting to in Sacramento, too. 

The Giants prospect ranked No. 3 by MLB Pipeline and No. 6 by Baseball America turned heads in spring training with his glove in center field and his improvements at the plate, showcasing more power as well. The Giants took a long look at Duggar for the Opening Day roster, but wanted to get him consistent at-bats in Triple-A after an injury plagued season in 2017. 

After a slow start at the plate, Duggar is heating up for the River Cats. On Monday, he snapped a seven-game hitting streak with an 0-for-3 showing. Over those seven games, Duggar hit .379 (11-for-29) with four doubles. 

So, where does he fit with the Giants? It's not easy to find the answer. 

The Giants already have a situation on their hands when Hunter Pence returns from the DL as Mac Williamson has crushed the ball since his call-up and is the clear answer over the beloved veteran right now. Williamson was an easy call with his previous big league experience plus his dominant numbers in Sacramento with his new swing. Finding a spot for Duggar won't nearly be as easy. 

None of the team's outfielders except for Williamson have minor-league rosters. Losing Gregor Blanco or Gorkys Hernandez through waivers would be a tough pill to swallow for the front office. Bochy loves his veterans and both Blanco and Hernandez can play all three positions in the outfield. 

Then there's Austin Jackson, whose start to his San Francisco career sure hasn't gone as planned. Heading into Wednesday's game, Jackson is only slashing .211/.258/.228. He is still hitting left-handers better than right-handers, but better is just .227 vs. .154. 

Jackson is signed for two years at $3 million annually. He's here to stay, though the plan was always for him to eventually turn into more of a fourth outfielder. As he has dealt with lingering leg issues, don't be surprised if he finds himself on the DL soon. 

If Jackson does hit the DL, would it be for the return of Pence or the debut of Duggar? It's becoming more clear Duggar is inching closer to big-league ready. He is now slashing .283/.377/.367 with five doubles and his defense will make an immediate impact. 

When and how Duggar finds himself at AT&T Park could be the Giants' next big question. 

The Mac Williamson Show rolls on: 'It's been fun to watch'

The Mac Williamson Show rolls on: 'It's been fun to watch'

SAN FRANCISCO — During his pre-game media session on Tuesday, Bruce Bochy was asked about the “elephant in the room.” What will he do with Mac Williamson when Hunter Pence is ready to come off the disabled list?

“That’s a big elephant,” Bochy joked. 

These things do tend to settle themselves, and in the fifth inning against the Nationals, it looked like the most unfortunate resolution might be in play. Williamson went hard after a Bryce Harper pop-up in foul territory and slammed his head and neck into the padded wall alongside the home bullpen. He took a second to take inventory of his body and trainer Dave Groeschner walked him back to his position. When he got to the dugout, Williamson was given a quick concussion test. He came back fine. 

There’s another way to settle a position battle, and Williamson showed it an inning later. His laser shot into the net beyond the center field wall was the difference in a 4-3 win over Washington. It was also his third homer in five starts since being recalled. He has three of the four hardest-hit homers of the season for the Giants in just 19 at-bats. 

At the moment, there’s no way the Giants can think about removing Williamson from left field. If anything, Bochy needs to ponder moving him up in the order. 

“We’ve talked about what a shot in the arm he’s been,” Bochy said. “It’s been fun to watch. Good for him, because he’s worked hard at it.”

Williamson’s offseason mechanical adjustments are well chronicled at this point. But the key Tuesday may have been the confidence that comes with making changes that click. In the past, coaches have been frustrated by an occasional lack of aggression in big spots. When Williamson came up with two outs in the sixth, he got a first-pitch curveball from Tanner Roark and smoked it towards the batter’s eye. 

“Now his confidence is so high,” Bochy said. “He’s up here and having success here against good pitching. It’s something we need, a guy who can provide offense and power, and he’s more than done that.”

Williamson was not alone on this night. Brandon Belt, who recently made a swing adjustment of his own, homered for the fifth time in six games. Ty Blach overcame a bout of food poisoning that cost him nine pounds over the weekend and managed to give Bochy five innings. Reyes Moronta went two and got his first career win. Sam Dyson, relegated to mop-up duty early in the year, induced a big double play to get out of the eighth. Hunter Strickland shut it down for a second consecutive night. 

The end result is a team that is now rolling. The Giants have taken back-to-back series from the Angels and Nationals. They are hitting for power and continue to pitch well. They’ll have their hands full Wednesday when they go up against Max Scherzer, but they have a new secret weapon, and Williamson hopes to be up for the task. He said he’s sure he’ll be sore once the adrenaline wears off, but he did not sound like a player who will need a day off. Any issues he had as he got up from the brutal-looking collision were not related to the bruise on his elbow or tweak to his calf. 

“I was just a little frustrated that I didn’t come up with the play, to be honest,” he said. “I had it in my glove.”

He more than made up for it an inning later.