Instant Replay: Pence, Posey homer as Giants vanquish Kershaw

Instant Replay: Pence, Posey homer as Giants vanquish Kershaw


LOS ANGELES — Did you think you had the 2017 Giants figured out? Try again. 

After a lifeless weekend at AT&T Park, the Giants came down to Dodger Stadium and handed Clayton Kershaw one of his worst nights against his rival (it still wasn’t all that bad). A slumping lineup had eight hits — including two homers — off the longtime Giant-killer and Johnny Cueto made it all hold up. A 4-3 win kicked off May and the three-city trip in style. 

Hunter Pence and Buster Posey combined for just two homers in April, but they found an unlikely way to get going in May. Pence blasted a Kershaw curveball a dozen rows into the left field bleachers in the first, giving Cueto a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers tied it up in the second, but Posey gave the Giants the lead back in the third inning with his first homer since the season-opening road trip. 

Gorkys Hernandez took advantage of the leadoff assignment in the fifth, bunting for a hit and reaching second on Kershaw’s error. He scored when Christian Arroyo — who had three great at-bats against Kershaw — lined a single to left to score Hernandez. 

The Dodgers got a run back in the seventh, but Bruce Bochy stuck with Cueto as trouble mounted and he was rewarded. Andrew Toles grounded out to end the inning and stranded a pair. 

Steven Okert took over and pitched a perfect eighth, and Bochy left him out on the mound to start the ninth. Adrian Gonzalez flied out to center and Cody Bellinger popped up. With Mark Melancon unavailable due to a high workload, Derek Law entered and got the final out. 

Starting pitching report: Cueto was charged with three earned in seven innings. He walked one and struck out six. On the other side, the eight hits and four runs both matched Kershaw’s highs against the Giants in 38 career appearances. 

Bullpen report: Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless seventh in his first home appearance against his former team. He still uses “El Mechon.” It is considerably less lit than it was at AT&T Park. 

At the plate: Pence entered the night with just seven hits in 70 at-bats against Kershaw, and all of those were singles. 

In the field: Drew Stubbs made a nice running catch of Corey Seager’s liner to left-center in the third. He hasn’t hit much, but he might be the best defensive center fielder on the roster right now.

Attendance: The Dodgers announced a crowd of 44,606 human beings. One of the Giants fans in the first row kept reading an old newspaper from the day after the 2014 title. A+ troll move. 

Up next: Matt Moore’s last two starts at Dodger Stadium: 8 2/3 shutout innings, 1 hit … 1 inning, 6 earned runs. So, I have no idea what you’ll get tomorrow. He’ll face Alex Wood.


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.”