Andrew McCutchen

Giants flame out again, but don't expect lineup changes yet

Giants flame out again, but don't expect lineup changes yet

SAN DIEGO — It is common, when a team is going through a stretch like this, for the manager to be asked about shuffling the lineup. Perhaps a struggling star needs to be moved down in the lineup, and after Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Padres, Bruce Bochy was asked if he thinks Evan Longoria needs a break from the No. 5 spot. 

“I don’t know… do you think?” he said, his eyes wide. “Obviously these are things we’re talking about, what is the best way to go, but it’s not one guy. We’ve got three or four guys who are still trying to find it here in the early go.”

You could argue it’s even more than that, and Bochy later had a more telling comment. 

“When someone gets really hot, you move them, but that’s not the case right now,” he said. 

The staff can meet for hours a day, but there’s not much that can be changed when most of a lineup is slumping or inconsistent. Joe Panik got off to a hot start and has remained on track, and he looks poised to hit first or second all year. Buster Posey saw his hitting streak snapped Friday, but he’s still batting .341. 

Other than that … 

  • Andrew McCutchen has two walk-offs but he’s also batting just .204. He came up in a big spot in the seventh and bounced into a double play, dropping to 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position. 
  • Brandon Crawford had three singles on Friday but he entered the day batting .225. 
  • Brandon Belt had two singles, but he continues to strike out in big spots. 
  • On his birthday, Hunter Pence went hitless in four at-bats, dropping his average to .200. 
  • Longoria struck out three times, dropping to .149. 

“We’re still having a tough time getting that big hit,” Bochy said. “That’s got to pick up here. We’ve got to find a way to get these runners in.”

The game was the 13th of the season and the Giants have been held to zero or one run in seven of them. But they also scored 10 runs against Felix Hernandez, seven in a thrilling win over the Dodgers on Saturday, and seven here on Thursday. That kind of inconsistency has managed to keep them around .500. It has also made it difficult to truly make lineup changes. 

Bochy said the staff will continue to talk, but don’t expect anything drastic on Saturday. The Giants are facing a left-handed starter, so it’s not an ideal time to give too many of the regulars a breather. The heart of the lineup is right-handed. 

The frustration is building, but Bochy remains hopeful this group will come out of the funk. He’s hoping the inconsistency ends soon.

“You look at how the season has gone and we’ve been pretty good or it’s been a rough go,” he said. “Seven games, one run or less, that’s not going to work.”

Andrew McCutchen joins exclusive clubs with walk-off homer

Andrew McCutchen joins exclusive clubs with walk-off homer

SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey is out of the lineup today after catching 14 innings last night. Brandon Crawford is out because Bruce Bochy preferred Kelby Tomlinson to face clayton Kershaw. Ditto with Pablo Sandoval replacing Brandon Belt. 

But Andrew McCutchen is in there, of course, and he’ll try to keep the good vibes going after one of the best individual games in Giants history. Here’s a rundown of some of what McCutchen did in a 7-5 win Saturday night … 

  •  He became the eighth San Francisco Giant to hit a walk-off homer in the 14th inning or later. Posey was the last one to do it when he walked the Reds off in the 17th inning last year. (The next day he explained it was dad strength.)
  • McCutchen is the first player since Detroit’s Jim Northrup in 1969 to have six hits and a walk-off homer (per Elias).
  • He’s the first since Guillermo Quiroz in 2013 to have his first homer as a Giant be a walk-off. Quiroz also walked off the Dodgers. 
  • He became the fourth San Francisco Giant to have a six-hit game. Crawford, of course, had seven hits against the Marlins two years ago. 
  • McCutchen became the first big leaguer to hit a walk-off with his team trailing in the 14th inning or later since July 11, 2015 … when Andrew McCutchen did it to the Cardinals. 
  • Per Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions, he’s the first big leaguer with a walk-off at least 12 pitches into a plate appearance since John Flaherty of the Rays in 2000. And finally, from Daren Willman of Baseball Savant, that was the longest plate appearance o McCutchen’s career. 

So yeah, that was one hell of a moment. And it led to some varied celebrations. 

--- I wrote last night about the bullpen, and Bochy today raved about Reyes Moronta. He said Moronta has the equipment to throw in the eighth or ninth, he just needs to tighten up his mechanics a bit. At times, he overthrows. 

--- The Giants have hit 10 homers and allowed two. The latter is more impressive, and more important given how often they got hit by the long ball last year. “That’s two mistakes to this point,” Bochy said. “That’s pretty impressive against the guys we’ve seen.”

--- No, Belt was not preparing to pitch last night. Derek Holland had his spikes on and would have followed Roberto Gomez. Instead, Gomez got his first big league win. He had the ball in his locker this morning. 

How three Giants rookies set stage for McCutchen's heroics

How three Giants rookies set stage for McCutchen's heroics

SAN FRANCISCO — Andrew McCutchen was honest. He had not heard of Pierce Johnson, Reyes Moronta or Roberto Gomez before sharing a clubhouse with them this spring. 

“No, no, no, not at all,” he said. “But it shows what they’re capable of doing.”

The three rookies allowed McCutchen to show what he’s capable of doing. The former MVP was the runaway star in a thrilling 7-5 win over the Dodgers, but you don’t get to the bottom of the 14th without some quality work from your bullpen, and the Giants leaned heavily on three right-handed rookies. 

Johnson, the 26-year-old who entered the season with one big league inning under his belt, came first. It was six up, six down for the Dodgers in the 10th and 11th, and Johnson now has five scoreless innings in his first three appearances in orange and black. 

Moronta, a 25-year-old who threw 6 2/3 innings last season, took over from there. His first inning might have been the most entertaining of the season for multiple reasons. A walk of Corey Seager had the Giants worrying that wild Moronta might have shown up, but he made Yasiel Puig look foolish with a series of sliders on the outer edge. Cody Bellinger swung through 97 mph for the second out. After a single by Logan Forsythe, it got interesting. The Dodgers were out of position players so Clayton Kershaw got ready to take the on-deck circle with two on. Bruce Bochy went out to talk to Moronta. He wanted him to know that he would intentionally walk Enrique Hernandez to load the bases for Kershaw. Bochy wasn’t worried about Moronta throwing a wild pitch or walking a pitcher, he was worried about Hernandez. 

“I would've felt worse if (Hernandez) got a hit,” he said. “I would’ve felt a lot worse.”

The Dodgers pulled Kershaw back and sent Hyun-jin Ryu up. Moronta struck him out before getting through the 13th with the same electric repertoire. 

“Every time, I just try to throw strikes,” he said. “And I never forget I have a good fastball.”

If he can harness it, Moronta will soon elevate to a much bigger role. Gomez has a big fastball, too, but he had some tough luck in his one inning. The Dodgers got three straight singles to open the 14th, but the third was a hard shot to third that clanked off Evan Longoria’s glove. Bochy credited Gomez, a 28-year-old with just four appearances prior to this season, with buckling down and keeping it a one-run game. That set the stage for McCutchen, who was all too happy to share the credit with three rookies. 

“Those guys did an amazing job,” he said. “They kept us in the ballgame.”