Gorkys Hernandez

Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers

mad-gorkys-us.jpg
USATSI

Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — A 2-1 victory Saturday night at Dodger Stadium all but assured that the Giants will not lose 100 games. They still could, sure, because any sort of downslide is possible in this 2017 season, but they would really have to finish with some sort of ugly stretch. 

Still, it’s been a long season, so it was no surprise when Madison Bumgarner admitted to some sleepless nights since Opening Day. As for Saturday night …

“It’s going to be much easier to go to sleep tonight, because we won,” Bumgarner said.

The big lefty did the heavy lifting, throwing 7 2/3 dominant innings and offering one more reminder that his shoulder is 100 percent fine after a season-halting dirt bike accident. Bumgarner topped out at 93.5 mph, and even though Bruce Bochy thought Dodger Stadium might have had a hot gun on this night, the swings told the story of a good fastball. Bumgarner said this was as good as he has felt in a while. 

“He did look strong,” Bochy said. “He did have really good stuff tonight. It was really crisp.”

It was the kind of night that reminds you that, for all their issues, the Giants will start 2018 with a leg up on many others. They have Madison Bumgarner and you don’t, and that should lead to plenty of good over the course of 32 or 33 starts. 

“I think it’s good for the club to know, hey, he’s back,” Bochy said. “This is the kind of ball we can play.”

It was the brand Bochy appreciates: A strong start, a good bullpen, strong defense, and just enough offense. That’s how the Giants will win in 2018, if they are to do so, which bodes well for the man at the center of Saturday’s offense. The Giants plan to move Denard Span to left field and acquire a new center fielder, but they still lack depth in the organization, and Gorkys Hernandez has made it clear he would like to stick around. He had three hits — including two doubles — and a walk, scoring both Giants runs. 

After a slow start that almost got him released, Hernandez took off over the summer, providing a high average and sparkling defense at three spots. A left wrist tendon issue has slowed him in September, but he surprised the staff by being available for the final two weeks of games, and he said he’ll play through the end of the year before considering any rehab options 

“He certainly has made a statement,” Bochy said. “He’s one of our better athletes. He can play anywhere in the outfield, and what’s impressive is how he’s come on with the bat. A kid like this that plays defense the way he can, and shows he can do some things with the bat, he’s in the mix.”

Hernandez said he loves playing in San Francisco. He intends to spend his offseason getting healthy at his home in Scottsdale before competing for an outfield job. 

“Every time Bochy puts me in the lineup I’m trying to show everyone that I can be here and that I can be part of this team for a long time,” he said. 

Giants lineup: Hernandez takes over at top of the order

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USATSI

Giants lineup: Hernandez takes over at top of the order

Despite the Brewers starting a right-handed pitcher, Bruce Bochy is going with Gorkys Hernandez to set the table for the Giants Wednesday.

Milwaukee Brewers (66-61)

1. Jonathan Villar (S) 2B
2. Domingo Santana (R) RF
3. Ryan Braun (R) LF
4. Travis Shaw (L) 3B
5. Jesus Aguilar (R) 1B
6. Manny Pina (R) C
7. Keon Broxton (R) CF
8. Orlando Arcia (R) SS
9. Matt Garza (R) P

San Francisco Giants (51-77)

1. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
2. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
3. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
7. Carlos Moncrief (L) RF
8. Ryder Jones (L) 1B
9. Matt Moore (L) P

As Giants look to future, a couple of bench bats keep coming up big

As Giants look to future, a couple of bench bats keep coming up big

OAKLAND -- The Giants have some big decisions to make before next opening day. They also have smaller decisions to make, and those are sometimes just as impactful. 

For years, the Giants have had a talent deficit on the bench. It shows up when players get hurt. It shows up when the weather heats up. It shows up when they spend a series with deeper teams, most notably the Dodgers.

To compete next season, the Giants will need to move around some big pieces, but they'll also need to be better equipped for the injuries and rest days of a long season. In that respect, Tuesday night's 10-4 win was a big one for two players.

Gorkys Hernandez hit leadoff and played center field. He had two hits, including a double. Over his last 36 games he's batting .327, raising his average to .260. He also showed off in center, making a running catch at the wall.

"Gorkys, what a job he's done," manager Bruce Bochy said. "In the early going I know there were questions about him and he wasn't playing much, but he's been one of our better players. You look at the way he's swinging the bat and you saw the range he has (in center)."

The Giants have always viewed Hernandez as a sort-of right-handed Gregor Blanco-type. It's possible that they'll look around this offseason and realize they are best off with his glove in center, which would allow for a power addition in left.

When the Giants look around for bench infielders this offseason, they probably shouldn't look too hard. Experience is always welcome, but Tomlinson continues to contribute. He reached three times Tuesday and scored twice while handling all his chances in left. He’s batting .261 with a .330 on-base percentage, numbers that are more than acceptable from a bench bat. He’s also a .344 batter as a pinch-hitter. 

"Tommy, he's showing his versatility by doing a good job in left," Bochy said. 

Of course, these two are primarily viewed by management as bench bats. They're extremely helpful to winning teams, but the Giants need the big guns, too. Brandon Belt hit his 17th homer and Hunter Pence added a huge insurance blast. Nick Hundley's first-inning homer was one of a season-high-tying three.

Bochy said Hensley Meuelens has been working with select regulars to try and add a little more pull-power. The Giants have fallen behind the rest of baseball, but they feel there's more power in this roster. They'd like to join the home run revolution, too. 

"You don't do it with all of them," Bochy said of swing adjustments. "You don't cookie-cutter hitters. But with guys you think can handle it and do it, it's okay to do it."