BOX SCORESAN FRANCISCO Tim Lincecum struggled out of the gate, Tim Hudson cruised through the Giants lineup for seven innings, and the Braves beat the Giants 7-1 on Sunday to split the four-game series after losing the first two contests.Starting pitching report With the rare 5:00 start time, Tim Lincecum had the benefit of the baseball leaving his hand in sunlight and reaching home plate in the shadows to start the ballgame. It didnt appear to help, however, as the Giants right-hander walked Braves leadoff man Michael Bourn and continued to unravel en route to allowing two first inning runs. After Lincecum induced a fly out from Reed Johnson, Bourn stole second and advanced to third on a single by Jason Heyward, who also stole second. A walk to Freddie Freeman loaded the bases for Martin Prado, who drove in Bourn with a fielders choice. Brian McCann followed with a bloop single into the Bermudas Triangle behind second base in right-centerfield for a 2-0 Braves lead. Lincecum has allowed 25 first-inning runs this season, the most in the big leagues.Lincecum kept the Braves off the board in the second, but gave up a single to the opposing pitcher Tim Hudson and allowed Bourn to steal his second base in as many innings.The Lincecum of yesteryear returned briefly in the third, as Heyward struck out chasing a high, tailing fastball and Freeman and Prado both grounded out for the first Atlanta 1-2-3 inning. But the nostalgia didnt last long, as Lincecum hung a one-out, 1-1 change-up to Juan Francisco in the fourth inning that ended up halfway up the centerfield Bleachers above the VISA sign. Since Barry Bonds retired, not many players have hit one to that part of the ballpark.Lincecum cruised through the fifth inning with three consecutive groundouts for his second 1-2-3 inning, but was lifted for pinch-hitter Ryan Theriot in the bottom half of the frame having thrown 90 pitches on the evening.Lincecums line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, one tape measure home run. Fifty-three of his 90 pitches were strikes.The two-time Cy Young winner has now thrown just nine quality starts in his 27 outings this season. He had 26 quality starts in each of those award-winning seasons (2008 and 2009).Bullpen report Jose Mijares relieved Lincecum to open the sixth inning and didnt last long. He walked Prado, gave up a single to McCann and struck out Francisco swinging before giving way to George Kontos. Kontos allowed both of his inherited runners to score on a triple by Paul Janish that was aided by some sloppy defense by Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan. He made up for the fat pitch to Janish by spoiling a suicide squeeze attempt, though. As Janish broke for home, Tim Hudson sent a bunt right back to Kontos, who fed catcher Hector Sanchez with an underhanded throw to get the out at home and keep the Atlanta lead at 5-0. Kontos finished the sixth inning and stayed in for a 1-2-3 seventh before giving way to Jeremy Affeldt in the eighth.Affeldt, who had allowed six runs on 10 hits and six walks over his last nine appearances, bounced back with a scoreless inning, but it wasnt without some drama. After Prado grounded out to shotstop for the first out, McCann worked around Bruce Bochys shift with a perfectly placed bunt down the third-base line. Affeldt followed with a walk to Francisco, then got Janish to fly out to center, which allowed McCann to move up to third. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called upon Chipper Jones to pinch-hit and he doffed his batting helmet to the crowd giving him a standing ovation for what could be his final appearance at AT&T Park, barring a playoff rematch. Jones hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop that ate up Brandon Crawford, but he recovered in time to get Jones at first and avoid a run-scoring error.Clay Hensley got the call in the ninth and, after two quick outs, served up back-to-back home runs to Heyward and Freeman for some Atlanta insurance. Pence bailed Hensley out of a longer inning with a sliding catch to send the game to the bottom of the ninth. At the plate Tim Lincecum threw 32 pitches in the top of the first inning. Tim Hudson needed just seven to set down the Giants 1-2-3 hitters in the bottom of the opening frame.The Giants didnt put up much more of a fight as the game moved along, either. Hudson worked around singles in the second, third and fourth innings, but still threw just 43 pitches through his first four innings of work. Hudson struck out three as he set down the Giants in order and the fifth and sixth innings before running into his first bit of trouble following the seventh-inning stretch.Buster Posey and Hunter Pence led off the seventh with back-to-back singles. Hector Sanchez almost hit the Giants 62nd splash hit, but his drive over the right-field arcade hooked foul. He eventually flew out to center before Gregor Blanco walked to load the bases for Brandon Crawford, who sent a ball to shallow center that allowed Posey to tag up and score the Giants first and only run. Hudson responded to the destruction of his shutout bid by getting pinch-hitter Brandon Belt to ground out to shortstop to end the threat.Dating back to August 29, 2006, Tim Hudson owns a six-game winning streak against the Giants, spanning nine starts. The Giants didnt fare much better against the Braves bullpen, as Jonny Venters worked around a one-out walk by getting Sandoval to ground into an easy 4-6-3 double play to end the eighth inning. Sandoval finished 0-for-4 on his bobblehead night. Pence laced a one-out single off Cristhian Martinez in the ninth inning for the Giants sixth hit of the game. But Sanchez popped out behind third base and, after a Blanco walk, Crawford flew out to Heyward in right to end the homestand.In field In the fourth inning, Angel Pagan appeared to lose a shallow fly ball in the sun off the bat of Braves pitcher Tim Hudson, who was credited with his second single of the game.Reed Johnson hit a high chopper to open up the fifth inning. Pablo Sandoval patiently waited for gravity to bring the ball back to his glove, then rushed the throw and sent it very low across the diamond. Brandon Belt has bailed Sandoval out of a few low throws recently with some slick glove work, but this time it was Buster Posey at first who took care of the one-hop throw for the out.On the bases The Braves stole three bases in the first two innings against the Tim Lincecum-Hector Sanchez battery. The Giants didnt attempt a single theft.Attendance The Giants announced a crowd of 41,735 for their 149th consecutive sellout. A number of Pablo Sandoval bobbleheads were already for sale on eBay before the games final out was recorded.Up next The Giants will enjoy a scheduled day off Monday before opening up a three-game series against the Astros in Houston. Matt Cain (13-5, 2.83 ERA) will start the opener for the Giants against Northern California native Bud Norris (5-11, 5.19 ERA).
There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.
But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.
Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.
General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.
Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.
But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.
So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"
I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.
With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.
Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.
The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.
Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.
As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.