Instant Replay: Giants snap skid behind Cueto, power bats

Instant Replay: Giants snap skid behind Cueto, power bats


SAN DIEGO — Thanks to Johnny Cueto and a power-packed day from the heart of the lineup, the Giants avoided the sweep. 

Cueto went seven strong and the Giants hit two early homers, beating the Padres 5-3. They lost season-opening series in Phoenix and San Diego, but won both of Cueto’s starts, finishing 2-5 on the trip. Mark Melancon closed the week with his first save as a Giant. 

Facing left-hander Clayton Richard, the right-handers in the lineup tried to take the tension out of the game early on. Chris Marrero’s first hit as a Giant drove Buster Posey in and an error on the play made it 2-0. Hunter Pence hit a two-run blast to left in the third inning and Posey made it back-to-back jacks when he went the opposite way. 

Cueto worked around two singles in the first and then retired 14 of 15. The streak ended with a walk of Travis Jankowski in the sixth and Will Myers took advantage of an elevated fastball, crushing a two-run shot off the Western Metal Supply Co. building. A bizarre infield single, walk and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases as Cory Gearrin warmed up in the bullpen. But Cueto got Erick Aybar to pop up to third, ending the threat. 

Cueto threw 109 pitches, and the Padres immediately inched closer once he got the handshake from Bruce Bochy. Yangervis Solarte greeted Derek Law in the eighth with a solo homer and Ryan Schimpf drew a walk, but Law got out of the inning without further damage. 

Melancon was going to pitch no matter the score Sunday, as he had been off since Opening Day. He put two runners on, but Myers bounced into a game-ending double play. 

Starting pitching report: Cueto muscled through some late trouble, finishing with just two runs allowed in seven innings. He struck out seven, walked three, and hit one. 

Bullpen report: Moves on the field often tell you more than answers off of it. Cueto hit for himself to lead off the seventh, even though he had thrown 95 pitches and had his roughest inning in the sixth. Tells you a lot about the trust in the bullpen’s ability to hold leads. 

At the plate: Marrero’s single to right was the first hit of the season by a Giants left fielder. The trio — Marrero, Jarrett Parker, a little bit of Aaron Hill — had started 0-for-22. 

In the field: Nothing all that noteworthy happened either way. 

Attendance: The Padres packed the house again. That was the biggest surprise of the road trip. 

Up next: Matt Moore pitched the last home game of 2016. He gets the home opener, against Taijuan Walker and the Diamondbacks. 

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Eight years ago in this very space, I postulated that Brian Sabean had done a lucrative deal with Satan.Co to win the Giants’ first World Series in 56 years. He never denied it, so I took that as silent affirmation.

Now, it seems Beelzebub has brought the bill, to be paid in full on receipt of same.

The San Francisco Giants, who needed as few things as possible to go wrong to start this season, just got two full-on groin shots in the space of less than a week, the second of which was delivered when Madison Bumgfarner fractured his hand trying to repel a line drive from Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield during Friday’s Cactus League game.

The injury did not look serious at first because, well, because Bumgarner pretends to be made of adamantium, but an X-ray revealed the fracture and though no time for recovery was listed, Bumgarner may return to health before the Giants do.

And yes, I know spring training is no time for fans to lose hope for a cheery season, but you take the fact as they present themselves, and the Giants are already 40 percent down from their projected starting rotation. Jeff Samardzija is already on the disabled list with a hinky pectoral muscle, and as the Giants know all too well, things like this tend to come in sixes, if not eights.

The 2010 Giants hit on every midseason trade and parlayed that good fortune and the assets already on board to a storied October run. A year later, Buster Posey got Scott Cousin-ed, and his broken ankle snapped the team’s hope of repeating.

The Giants then won in 2012 and ’14 without too much incident, but starting midway through 2016, continuing into last year when Bumgarner flipped his dirt bike, and now down to today, it’s been nothing but seeds and stems for Giantvania.

The rumor mill has been quick to offer up possible replacements for the Bumgarner vacancy (though not for his expected results), but at a time in the game’s development when the best and most progressive-thinking teams are talking about four-man rotations and Staff on every fifth day, a strategic development that requires strength in numbers, the Giants have neither that strength nor those numbers.

Their best internal choices are veteran Derek Holland, who might already have been penciled in as Samardzija’s replacement, and phenom-in-training Tyler Beede. But that essentially uses up the in-house bank of usable goods, so Sabean can either buy something very off-the-rack or hope he and Bruce Bochy can fake it long enough for Samardzija (three to four weeks) and then Bumgarner (six to eight, according to ESPN's Buster Olney).

This seems awfully daunting, especially for a team that has buzzard’s luck and a rotting bat rack for a season and a half. But with six days before the regular season starts in Los Angeles against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers...oh, the hell with it. If you’re a Giant fan, start drinking, and continue until further notice. The evil lord of the netherworld will tell you when it’s time to stop.

Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season

Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after the Giants lost one of the game's most durable pitchers, they took a much bigger blow. 

Madison Bumgarner fractured the fifth metacarpal in his pitching hand when he was hit by a line drive Friday in what was to be his final appearance before facing Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Opening Day. The Giants did not have an immediate timetable for how long their ace will be out, but he is expected to miss a significant portion of the season for a second straight year. The rotation is already without Jeff Samardzija for the first month of the season because of a strained pectoral.

Bumgarner told reporters he will have surgery on Saturday to insert pins into his hand. He expects the pins to be removed in four-to-six weeks, and that he'll be able to pitch before the All-Star break. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that, in all, Bumgarner will be out for six-to-eight weeks.

Bumgarner looked poised for a huge season, and he threw well all camp. He was injured when hit by a liner off the bat of Kansas City's Whit Merrifield. Ironically, Bumgarner and Merrifield grew up close to each other in North Carolina, and Merrifield has told a story about getting beamed by an intimidating 11-year-old Bumgarner in little league.

The Giants had little rotation depth coming into the season, and the group is now in shambles. Derek Holland, a non-roster invitee, may be the No. 2 starter. The Giants will also have to lean heavily on young pitchers Chris Stratton and Ty Blach. Johnny Cueto is the de facto ace, but he's coming off a down year and at times has struggled this spring. 

There are not many appealing options left in free agency and the Giants likely would have to go into the tax to sign one. Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez are the top in-house options.