Instant Replay: Offense, Cain power Giants past LA, to fourth straight win

Instant Replay: Offense, Cain power Giants past LA, to fourth straight win


SAN FRANCISCO — Even when they were the worst team in the league earlier this season, the Giants had success against the Dodgers. On the fourth night of their resurgence, they pulled away early.  

The Giants scored four in the fourth and kept tacking on, winning 8-4 in the first game of a big three-game set at AT&T Park. A day after clinching their first three-game winning streak of the season, they pushed it to four. 

As he did April 24 — a much different time for the team — Matt Cain dominated the Dodgers. He gave up one run over 6 2/3, walking off to a standing ovation. 

The Giants had everything tilting their way early. Cain put six runners on in the first four innings but benefited from two strange double plays. With the leadoff runner on in the second, Chase Utley smoked a ball right at first baseman Brandon Belt, who stepped on the bag for two. Cain walked Utley with one out in the fourth and he got a good jump on a stolen base attempt. Chris Taylor’s bouncer up the middle went right to a covering Brandon Crawford, who stepped on second and threw over for an easy double play. 

A Corey Seager single and Yasmani Grandal double got the Dodgers on the board in the third, but the Giants tied it against Brandon McCarthy in the bottom of the inning. Mac Williamson lined a single to right and went to second on a bunt. He scored when Denard Span’s two-out bloop landed in shallow left. 

There was no luck involved with the way the fourth started. Belt and Buster Posey singled and Crawford lined a double down the right-field line, giving the Giants the lead. Then the Dodgers melted down. 

With two runners in scoring position, Eduardo Nuñez hit a broken-bat bouncer up the middle. When Seager fielded it on the grass and tossed it back to McCarthy, Crawford was hung up halfway between third and home and Nuñez was headed for second. McCarthy didn't see Crawford and he threw to second, where Nuñez slid in safely. Crawford jogged across the plate. Nuñez would score on a sacrifice fly, making it 5-1.

Starting pitching report: Cain became the 12th pitcher in franchise history to reach 2,000 innings with the Giants. He came into the night at 1,997. He threw 112 pitches, his most since 2014. 

Bullpen report: Bochy turned to Bryan Morris with one of Cain’s runners on in the seventh. He struck out Scott Van Slyke to end the inning. 

At the plate: Posey went deep to left in the seventh for his fifth homer in seven games. 

In the field: After a weekend spent writing about Crawnik, a nod to Belt, who saved a couple of wayward throws Monday. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,397 human beings who got to jam to Usher in the seventh. 

Up next: A battle of lefties. Ty Blach takes on Rich Hill, who is coming off the disabled list (blister).


Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts


Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants moved closer to setting their opening day roster on Monday when they made a significant round of cuts to their spring training roster. 

A total of 15 players were reassigned or optioned, bringing the total to 31 players remaining in camp. Many of the players cut Monday entered the spring competing for jobs. 

In the outfield, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater were optioned to Triple-A and Chris Shaw was reassigned to minor league camp. Williamson had a huge spring and was the likeliest of the trio to push for an opening day spot, but he'll start his year in the minors. Steven Duggar was not among the cuts, and he remains an option to make the team, with the Giants also looking at Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernandez and Jarrett Parker for backup spots. Hernandez and Parker are out of minor league options. 

Tyler Beede was optioned and Andrew Suarez was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving three players vying for the final two rotation spots. Ty Blach and Chris Stratton have been the favorites all along, although both struggled the last time out and Derek Holland has had a strong spring. 

Both backup catchers -- Trevor Brown and Hector Sanchez -- were reassigned, along with Orlando Calixte, who saw time in the big leagues last year. Joan Gregorio, Jose Valdez, Justin O'Conner and Kyle Jensen were also reassigned. Chase d'Arnaud, who appeared to be making a strong push, was on the list, too, leaving Josh Rutledge as the only competition for Kelby Tomlinson for the final infield spot. 

Finally, Derek Law and Roberto Gomez were optioned to Triple-A. Josh Osich remains and appears the frontrunner for a bullpen job. Julian Fernandez, the Rule 5 pick, also remains in camp. 

The Giants break camp on Friday.

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.