Sandoval extends hitless streak, Giants go down quietly at Coors


Sandoval extends hitless streak, Giants go down quietly at Coors

DENVER — As Jae-Gyun Hwang flies back to South Korea, at some point he might ponder an important question: What if the Giants had given me a marketable nickname?

Hwang had hoped to get some serious time in September for the Giants. The team chose instead to remove Hwang from the roster and take a second look at Pablo Sandoval, and after some mildly encouraging early returns, the gamble has backfired. 

Sandoval was 0-for-4 on Monday at Coors Field and he’s hitless in his last 33 at-bats. That’s the longest streak by a Giant since Johnnie LeMaster made 37 consecutive outs in 1984. Sandoval is batting .196 in 97 at-bats since returning to his first home, with an OPS that’s about 100 points below the mark that inspired the Red Sox to cut bait and swallow $50 million. 

Asked about Sandoval after a 4-3 loss, Bruce Bochy said sharply, “We’ve got a few guys cold.”

“It’s not like any young players are tearing it up, either,” Bochy said. “I’m just being honest. He’s had some success here (at Coors) and against their pitcher (Chad Bettis). We’re trying to finish strong and give Pablo a good look with (Ryder) Jones and (Mac) Williamson.”

Before Monday’s game, Bochy said Sandoval is drifting too much in his swing as he prepares to take hacks. It doesn’t help that his aggressiveness on pitches out of the zone is what it was in his first go-around. 

The Giants appear to have been wrong about Sandoval, but Bochy is right about one thing: He has plenty of cold hitters, a list that includes Jones, another option at third. Jones didn’t play Monday but the guys who did didn’t do much. Joe Panik and Denard Span had six hits at the top of the order. The other Giants were 1-for-25 at the best hitter’s park in the game. 

That made for a tight game, and the Giants generally blow those. Three different players made mistakes in the ninth. Williamson was too far back with a lefty, Charlie Blackmon, at the plate to lead off. He said he didn’t want to let a ball get behind him in the thin air, and the wind was swirling. When Blackmon hit a pop-up to shallow left-center, Williamson’s diving attempt ended with the ball hitting off his glove. Blackmon reached second, and Steven Okert intentionally walked Nolan Arenado and then unintentionally walked Gerardo Parra to put Cory Gearrin in a tough spot. 

Gearrin struck out Pat Valaika, but Joe West did him no favors by Joe West-ing it up and opening the next at-bat by ruling a clear strike was a ball. Gearrin sprayed three more to Carlos Gonzalez, walking in the winning run. 

“Regardless (of the first pitch) I have to come in there and throw strikes and make better pitches,” Gearrin said. “It’s just unacceptable for me to come in and not throw strikes and make that a competitive at-bat.”

The Giants didn’t have many competitive at-bats once it got past the top two in their order. Afterward, Bochy sat in the dugout for a few minutes and stared out at the field. When he met with reporters, he acknowledged that Sandoval will need another day off to try and clear his head and fix his swing. 

“We just gave him a day off,” Bochy said. “We just gave him a day off not too long ago.”

Dodgers crush Cubs in Game 5 to reach 2017 World Series


Dodgers crush Cubs in Game 5 to reach 2017 World Series


CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by Hernandez's home run trilogy, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 victory in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping this group of Dodgers. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and Justin Turner anchoring a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Los Angeles to its last championship in 1988.

The Dodgers will host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead in the ALCS heading into Game 6 at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

The Dodgers made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when Los Angeles was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

He was just OK in his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' loaded lineup picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts in his sixth career playoff win - matching Burt Hooton for the franchise record.

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on. The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small, but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitor's dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

Report: Giants interview Chili Davis about becoming new hitting coach


Report: Giants interview Chili Davis about becoming new hitting coach

Chili Davis spent the first seven years of his big league career with the Giants where he made two All-Star teams and hit 101 home runs. 

Fast forward 37 years from his debut in 1981, and Davis may now be the one teaching Giants how to hit balls over the wall in 2018. The Giants met with Davis Thursday about becoming the team's new hitting coach, according to The Mercury News

The only problem is, there is no open vacancy on the Giants' coaching staff. 

Current hitting coach Hensley Meulens is a candidate for the Tigers' head coaching vacancy, but reports surfaced Thursday that former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will take that role. Meulens could become a candidate to manage another team or take a different spot on the Giants' staff. 

The Giants' offense sputtered in 2017. Overall, the offense ranked 23rd in batting average (.249), 29th in runs scored (639) and last in home runs (128). By comparison, the Pirates were the next worst team at hitting home runs in 2017 and still launched 23 more long balls than the Giants. 

Over his 19-year career, Davis hit 350 home runs. He has spent the last three years as the Red Sox's hitting instructor.