Instant Replay: Hernandez drives in four, Giants beat D'backs 8-4

Instant Replay: Hernandez drives in four, Giants beat D'backs 8-4


PHOENIX — This time, the lineup made sure the final frames wouldn’t matter as much. 

After blowing their season opener in the eighth and ninth, the Giants ran away from the Diamondbacks in the early going Tuesday, riding Johnny Cueto and a five-run fifth to an 8-4 win at Chase Field. The lineup, which left too man opportunities on the field Sunday, had 15 hits. 

The Giants scored three runs off Patrick Corbin in the first three innings and responded right away when the Diamondbacks cut it to 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth. 

Brandon Crawford opened the fifth by chopping a high 92 mph fastball into the right field seats for his first homer of the year. After Eduardo Nuñez reached with a nifty feet-first slide into first, Joe Panik singled and shortstop Chris Owings booted a double-play ball from Cueto. The Giants took advantage of the mistake, with Gorkys Hernandez smoking a two-run double and Brandon Belt hitting an RBI double off the wall. 

At Chase Field you always need the extra runs, and the Diamondbacks chipped away in the fifth when Jake Lamb — who used to hammer Cueto’s friend Santiago Casilla — hit a two-run bomb into the pool. 

Cueto turned it over to the bullpen, which had 48 hours to stew over a demoralizing season-opening loss. The group responded. Cory Gearrin pitched a scoreless sixth, George Kontos had a dominant seventh, Derek Law pitched a perfect eighth, and Hunter Strickland closed it out in the ninth. 

Starting pitching report: Cueto ran out of gas a bit near the end and it cost him. Lamb’s two-run homer left Cueto with a line he doesn’t post often: 5 innings, 6 hits, 4 earned.  

Bullpen report: Kontos might as well be the second lefty in the bullpen, and if he keeps pitching like this, he might be the eighth-inning guy. Kontos entered with a runner on in the seventh and got David Peralta to fly out before striking out Paul Goldschmidt and Lamb. He has 10 strikeouts in his last four appearances, going back to spring training. 

At the plate: Hernandez only started because Denard Span’s left hip tightened up in the morning, and he drove in four runs. He drove in four runs in 26 appearances last season.

In the field: Don’t hand that Gold Glove to Javy Baez quite yet. Joe Panik showed off his range with a diving stop to end the second inning. He also owes Belt a steak for an eighth-inning scoop. 

Attendance: The Diamondbacks announced a crowd of 19,378 human beings after drawing 49,016 on opening day. Same drop every year here.

Up next: Matt Moore makes his first start since a brilliant turn during Game 4 of the NLDS. He’ll face Taijuan Walker, the talented young right-hander picked up in the offseason.


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.”