Giants Notes: Blach pulls a Bumgarner; Moore rocked on road again

Giants Notes: Blach pulls a Bumgarner; Moore rocked on road again

DENVER — In the seventh inning Thursday, manager Bruce Bochy walked out to see the home plate umpire and signaled for his rookie left fielder to play third base for the first time as a professional. It kept getting weirder from there. 

In the top of the eighth, with two on, Bochy called on rookie left-hander Ty Blach to pinch-hit for reliever Josh Osich. He was out of bats on the bench, having used Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson as pinch-hitters and Nick Hundley and Gorkys Hernandez as injury replacements. What did Bochy tell Blach? 

“We just want you to get a base hit,” he said, smiling. “You don’t need to hit it out.”

Blach obliged, lining an RBI single up the middle at 100 mph. An inning later, Bochy again had to turn to the rarely seen move. This time it was Jeff Samardzija pinch-hitting for Bryan Morris, and that led to a more urgent conversation between a coach and player. Denard Span was on second and third base coach Phil Nevin got his attention. 

“Phil gave me a look like, ‘Come right now.’ (Greg) Holland is slow to the plate and we’ve got Shark up there. Let’s try to make something happen,” Span said. 

Span immediately took off for third, stealing without a throw. When he got there, Nevin told him they would still have to be aggressive. Span took off on a ball in the dirt and was thrown out on a play so close that a long replay was needed. The call was confirmed. Span said he thought it was a coin flip at the plate. 

It was the right move, and it very nearly put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. As with most plays recently, the Giants just came up an inch short. 

--- From last night, updates on Buster Posey and Eduardo Nuñez. The news was mostly good, but you have to figure the Giants will make a move or two today. With Posey and Nuñez likely out a couple of days, they’re down to two healthy bodies on the bench. The Hunter Strickland suspension should begin any day now, so the bullpen will be short, too. 

On that note, it’s worth writing here that Joan Gregorio, a starter at Triple-A, was a late scratch Thursday night. Gregorio is on the 40-man roster and could serve as a long reliever this weekend. We’ll see if he shows up today. 

--- I wrote before the game about how Bochy is baffled by the delay with the Strickland ruling. He expressed his displeasure after the game, saying he was told a decision would be made two days ago. 

“This suspension thing is hanging over us,” Bochy said. “That’s disappointing.”

--- Early in the game, Span was robbed of a two-base bloop single by a diving Trevor Story. 

“It’s the story — pun intended — of how our season has been,” Span said of the unlucky play. 

--- Matt Moore was rocked, and he now has a 9.24 ERA on the road. 

“At times it felt they knew what was coming and that’s a bad feeling as a pitcher,” Moore said. 

He did not think he was tipping, but said he’ll review the tape as he always does. 

“It just wasn’t a good night,” Moore said. “I felt I did a decent job of getting ahead and there were some two-strike swings that weren’t defensive — they were big swings.”

Moore said he’ll try to be better about burying change ups and off-speed pitches with two strikes. 

“They were floating over the zone,” he said.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”