Instant Replay: Giants score four in seventh, Cueto earns third win

Instant Replay: Giants score four in seventh, Cueto earns third win


SAN FRANCISCO — The first week of the season was filled with blown leads. The second week has included a pair of failed comeback attempts. 

On Friday, the Giants let their manager relax. 

This one turned into a good old-fashioned blowout. Johnny Cueto threw seven sharp innings and the lineup scored four runs early and four more in the seventh. The Giants beat the Rockies 8-2 as Cueto became the first pitcher to three wins this season. 

The Giants are getting close to sending Michael Morse and Melvin Upton Jr. to Triple-A Sacramento, but left fielder Chris Marrero dropped a “not so fast” swing into the night’s action to get things going. After a walk of Eduardo Nuñez and the first of two Tyler Anderson balks in the second, Marrero crushed a 2-2 fastball into the left field seats.

Brandon Crawford, who has had an emotional week, lined the first pitch of the fourth the other way for a solo shot that gave Cueto a 4-0 lead, but the Rockies immediately chipped away. 

Two singles and walk loaded the bases with one out in the fifth. Stephen Cardullo hit a bouner to second and Joe Panik tried to tag Tony Wolters to start a double play, but the ball flew out of Panik’s glove as he touched Wolters. A run scored, and the Rockies would tack on another before Crawford and Panik turned an inning-ending double play. 

The Giants do not typically compile their run on homers, and the seventh-inning rally had a more familiar feel. With two outs, Denard Span drew a walk and then watched as five straight hitters knocked singles. Brandon Belt’s at-bat was the best of of the bunch, a 13-pitch marathon that ended with a 96 mph Jake McGee fastball getting lined into center. Belt fouled off seven pitches after falling behind 0-2. 

Starting pitching report: Cueto's night: 7 innings, 6 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts. 

Bullpen report: Derek Law is settling in after a shaky start. He was sharp in the eighth. 

At the plate: Marrero had 4,005 minor league plate appearances before picking up his first homer. 

In the field: Belt spent a chunk of Thursday’s game chasing down popups to deep right. Crawford made a similar play on the left field side Friday. 

Attendance: The sellout crowd tried to push the seventh-inning rally along with cell phone lights. If those people think I'm forgetting that they did the wave two weeks ago, they're nuts. 

Up next: Matt Moore will face right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who gave up one earned run in 13 innings at AT&T Park last season. 

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.”