Moore's error on underhanded throw proves costly in loss to Indians

Moore's error on underhanded throw proves costly in loss to Indians

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s an odd thing about pitchers. Many of these guys, who make millions by hitting a tiny target 60 feet away, just don’t feel comfortable making the much shorter throws to bases. 

Matt Moore has never been in that camp. Oh, he can lose his command to the plate quite often, but he has never felt the need to cut back on throws to first. Moore couldn’t remember ever making an underhanded throw over there. He sets his feet and fires it as he always does, but in the fifth inning Monday, Moore felt rushed and he changed it up. It likely cost the Giants the game. 

Moore’s underhanded throwing error turned what would have been a 3-1 game into a tied one and cost him nearly an inning's worth of pitches. Jae-gyun Hwang’s error in the sixth compounded that damage, and the Giants couldn’t touch a dominant Indians bullpen. They lost 5-3 on the first night of a lengthy homestand, one that also started with the official death of the seven-year sellout streak. 

Moore pitched well and said he was happy with his conviction and command. Bruce Bochy complimented his confidence on the mound. Overall, this was a big step in the right direction, but that underhanded throw left Moore with what he called “a dark spot.”

“I knew (Bradley) Zimmer is fast and I did what felt natural. I grabbed it and picked it up and threw it underhanded,” he said. “As soon as I let it go, I knew it was too high.”

Brandon Belt likely would have come down with it, but he has a sprained left wrist and that left the shorter Hwang out there for the first time. He had no chance. Moore said he would have thrown it overhanded if he had not dropped the initial grounder. He was left shaking his head after a night where he went seven.

“It’s a shame what happened,” Bochy said. “He’s 15 feet from first base and he just held onto it too long and that’s the difference in the game. It’s been a tough go. We get home and we want to get off to a good start and win the ballgame. To lose like that, sure, it’s always tough to lose. You hate shooting yourself in the foot, which we did.”

--- The Giants announced during the game that their sellout streak officially ended at 530 regular season games. That’s a National League record. Look, I’ve made fun of the streak quite a few times. I think it ended a night or two in 2013, if only just barely. But the Giants have a lot of people who worked very hard to find creative ways to sell some losing teams, and this was a tough night for them. It’s a hell of an accomplishment, and it tells you something about the experience here that the Giants still drew nearly 40,000 tonight given what their record is. 

“It’s incredible the support we’ve had,” Bochy said. “This season couldn’t have gone worse. I don’t think any of us could have seen it unraveling the way it has. It’s been a tough go and the one constant has been the support. We can’t thank (the fans) enough. We appreciate it. We’re disappointed we’re not in a better place for our fans.”

The Giants expect to sell out again as soon as Wednesday. 

--- Another streak ended tonight: Eduardo Nuñez was 0 for 4, ending his MLB-best streak of 33 consecutive games reaching base. That was the longest streak in the majors this season.

--- Ryder Jones was reinstated from the DL and optioned to Triple-A Sacramento after the game. He’s expected to be in their lineup Tuesday night.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”

Will Clark says Steven Duggar can play 'Gold Glove center field right now,' trusts the bat too


Will Clark says Steven Duggar can play 'Gold Glove center field right now,' trusts the bat too

Will Clark won his first and only Gold Glove at first base for the Giants at age 27 in 1991. It was Clark's sixth year in the major leagues. 

Steven Duggar won't have to wait that long to win the biggest hardware for his defense in Clark's eyes. 

"He can play Gold Glove center field right now in the big leagues. He can flat out go get it in center field," Clark said on the Giants' prospect Tuesday on KNBR. "He can definitely, definitely play a Gold Glove center field." 

Clark, who now serves a role in the Giants' front office after playing in five straight All-Star Games for his former team from 1988-92, has watched Duggar closely for more than just this spring training. When asked about his feelings on the 24-year-old, Clark made them clear right away. 

"I've seen Steve parts of the last two seasons in the minor leagues and I am definitely a Steven Duggar fan," Clark said. 

The question with Duggar has always been his bat. He has elite speed, gets great jumps in center field and everyone from Bruce Bochy to Buster Posey has praised his ability to track down fly balls. 

"His thing is, how quick is he going to make the adjustment in the big leagues with the pitching. I know there's a lot of people that are asking that question right now," Clark. 

Count The Thrill as one of the leaders in Camp Duggar. He joined many others in complimenting his glove left and right. But what he has to say about the Clemson product's bat is what puts him over the top. 

"He's succeeded at each level he's been at," Clark pointed out. "He will do it at the major league level and I'm kind of staking my reputation on that."

This is confidence -- to say the least -- coming from someone who was a .303 lifetime hitter and bashed 284 home runs in 15 seasons. 

Over three years in the minor leagues, Duggar is a .292 career hitter with a .384 on-base percentage and .427 slugging percentage. Duggar started off scorching hot this spring with the Giants, but has cooled down with the Cactus League soon coming to a close. In 16 games, Duggar is slashing .250/.353/.545 and has shown more pop with four home runs.