Royals rough up Cueto, Giants swept in two-game home series

Royals rough up Cueto, Giants swept in two-game home series


SAN FRANCISCO -- Royals slugger Mike Moustakas didn't care to get caught up in a debate concerning whether or not his latest home run landed in the waters of McCovey Cove.

With Kansas City finally finding a comfortable groove after a rocky start to the season, Moustakas is thinking big picture.

Moustakas hit his 18th home run leading off the second inning, Jorge Bonifacio and Lorenzo Cain followed with back-to-back shots in the third and the Royals beat the San Francisco Giants 7-2 on Wednesday to complete a two-game sweep.

The win was Kansas City's fourth straight and left the Royals at 30-34 - not bad for a ballclub that was nine games under .500 one month into the season.

"We're trending in the right direction," Moustakas said. "We've been playing great baseball on this road trip and if we keep this going we're going to be in a good spot after the end of this month."

Moustakas, one of Kansas City's top hitters over the past two weeks, stayed hot with his home run off former Royals pitcher Johnny Cueto (5-6) that initially appeared to land in McCovey Cove. Officials later determined that the ball landed on a walkway and bounced into the water.

It was the fifth homer in 12 games for Moustakas, who is already just four shy of his career-high.

"It's all good, a homer's a homer," Moustakas said.

Bonifacio finished with two hits and three RBIs, Whit Merrifield added three hits and three runs while Alcides Escobar singled three times to help Jason Hammel end an eight-game winless stretch on the road that dated to 2016.

Hammel (3-6) allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings to beat the Giants for the first time in 12 starts. The right-hander gave up eight hits, struck out four and walked one.

"He commanded the ball really well, he changed speeds, he used his slider effectively, got some big swings and misses," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "His last couple of starts, he's really come on for us."

Bonifacio homered in the third after Merrifield opened the inning with a bunt single. Two pitches later, Cain lined an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left-center that put the Royals up 4-0.

Cueto struggled in his first appearance against his former team since signing with San Francisco after helping Kansas City to the 2015 World Series. He allowed five runs and 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings with three walks and five strikeouts.

Kansas City has scored seven or more runs in each of its last four games, all wins.

Eduardo Nunez had two hits and an RBI for San Francisco. The Giants have lost 11 of 15.

San Francisco had two on and two outs twice but failed to score each time. Hammel fanned Brandon Crawford to end the fourth and reliever Peter Moylan got Buster Posey to ground out to end the seventh.

"The way we're swinging, it's a steep climb," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "This is humbling to go through something like this. It's a tough time for these fellows."


Brandon Belt's walk in the seventh inning was the first free pass issued by Hammel since May 29. It also was the last batter the right-hander faced, as Yost came scurrying out of the dugout to replace him with Moylan. Hammel hardly resisted. "I don't ever want to say I was getting tired but that inning the pitches were up," he said. "Probably the right move there."


Giants: 2B Joe Panik returned to the lineup after being sidelined for four games with a sprained left thumb he injured last week in Milwaukee diving for a ground ball. He went 2 for 4.


Royals: LHP Matt Strahm (1-3, 4.05) makes his first career start Thursday in Anaheim against the Angels. Strahm has made 20 appearances out of the bullpen this season.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore (2-7, 5.28) faces the Rockies for the third time this season when the teams play at Colorado in the opener of a four-game series Thursday. Moore is winless in his previous five starts.

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.