Instant Replay: Braves 7, Giants 3


Instant Replay: Braves 7, Giants 3


SAN FRANCISCO Cant win em all. Isnt that what they say?

After the Giants had played just about as well as they can play in winning seven of eight and five in a row, the streak ended with a thud, a 7-3 loss to the Braves on Saturday at AT&T Park.

The Giants did a little of everything wrong. Madison Bumgarner had a shaky outing, including trouble with the opposing pitcher. The Giants offense was stymied by lefty Mike Minor and the hitters didnt wake up until he was out of the game.

And then, just when a quiet afternoon turned exciting on a Gregor Blancos two-run double that brought them within a run in the seventh, the Giants bullpen had an eighth-inning meltdown that put them back in a three-run hole.

Starting pitching report
Bumgarner, who will have to wait until his next start to try to become the Giants first left-handed 15-game winner since Shawn Estes in 2000, was pretty good except for a few costly lapses.

Bumgarner issued four walks, equaling his season high, and none was more regrettable than a leadoff walk to Minor in the third. Walking any pitcher is bad, but walking Minor is truly unforgivable. He came into the game batting .024. He had one hit and one walk in 45 plate appearances this season.

Bumgarner walked him, and then an out later he walked Martin Prado. Then he missed his location to Jason Heyward, and it really cost him. Catcher Buster Posey was set up outside for the 1-0 fastball to Heyward, but Bumgarner left it over the inner half of the plate, right where Heyward likes it, and he jacked it over the right-field fence for his second homer in as many days.

After that, Bumgarner didnt give up another run until the seventh when he gave up a double off the wall to Minor. Yes, his second hit of the year. Michael Bourn then singled up the middle to drive in Minor with the fourth run of the game.

Bullpen report
The eighth inning was the killer. Just after the bullpen had escaped a jam in the seventh and the Giants hitters had rallied to within a run in the bottom of the inning, Clay Hensley started the eighth. He allowed three of the four batters he faced to reach base, and he left with the bases loaded.

Jeremy Affeldt got the first out, but then he walked Michael Bourn and Martin Prado, forcing in two runs and allowing the Braves to push their lead back to three runs.

Affeldt has given up six hits and six walks in four innings in his past six games.

Eric Hacker then gave up another run in the ninth.

Before that, George Kontos and Jose Mijares had done their job in the seventh. Kontos would have retired the only batter he faced if not for his own error. Mijares then got Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, the Braves dangerous lefties, to hold the Braves at four runs.

At the plate
The Giants didnt do much with Minor, and they probably got a break when Braves
manager Fredi Gonzalez gave his lefty a quick hook in the seventh inning.

Minor had a 2.29 ERA in his previous eight starts and hed stymied the Giants on one run and four hits with two outs in the seventh. Rookie Francisco Peguero, who had not looked good in the first two at-bats of his career, was due. But Gonzalez pulled Minor in favor of right-hander Chad Durbin, and that prompted Bruce Bochy to bring former Brave, Blanco, off the bench. He delivered a two-run double to get the Giants back into the game.

That hit woke up a Giants team that had been virtually silent against Minor.

Marco Scutaro singled in the first, but then the next 11 Giants hitters went down before they got a rally started when Hunter Pence was hit by a pitch. Joaquin Arias then smoked a double into left on a pretty good pitch, up and in, by the way to move Pence to third. Belts well-placed grounder drove in Pence and moved Arias to third with one out, but the Giants couldnt get Arias in.

Peguero had the chance to knock in Arias simply by putting a ball into play, but he struck out.

Even sizzling Angel Pagan, who had four hits on Friday night and an eight-game hitting streak, went hitless.

In the field
Scutaro had a great day at second base. His biggest play was a diving stop of a Heyward grounder with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning. He also made a nice play to get a force in the seventh, and he ranged over the middle to start a double play in the fourth inning.

Arias, at shortstop, had a day when nothing was routine. He had to go into the hole in the first to try to nab Martin Prados hot smash, and it got past him for a hit. Then he went over the middle to make the play on Paul Janish in the second. In the seventh he went back to his right against Janish, and this time he made a nice play, with Belt making a nice play on the one-hop throw. Arias also couldnt handle a throw from Posey on a stolen base attempt in the fifth. Poseys throw was wide, and the catcher was charged with the error, but Arias got his glove on it.

The ball found Peguero in a huge spot in his first inning in the big leagues. With two on and two outs, David Ross smoked one toward the left field fence, and Peguero had to race back and make a nice running catch to save at least two runs.

Kontos tried to hurry to get the lead runner on Prados dribbler in the seventh. Instead, he mishandled the ball for an error and he got nothing.

It was the 148th consecutive regular season sellout at AT&T Park, with an announced crowd of 41,679.

Up Next
The Giants finish this homstand yep, thats it, just four games with a 5:06 p.m. start against the Braves. The game was scheduled for 1:05 but it was moved back for ESPNs Sunday Night Baseball. The pitching matchup is a good one, with Tim Lincecum (7-13, 5.30) taking the mound against Tim Hudson (12-4, 3.69). A national TV appearance will certainly put a big spotlight on Lincecums struggles. Although the season ERA is still ugly, Lincecu has a 3.03 ERA in his past five starts.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far


Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

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.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

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.