Mac Williamson

Williamson goes deep, Giants bats explode for 8-1 win vs Angels

Williamson goes deep, Giants bats explode for 8-1 win vs Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Andrew McCutchen hit a towering, three-run homer, Mac Williamson hit a two-run homer in his first big league game this season and Nick Hundley also connected to back Jeff Samardzija in the San Francisco Giants' 8-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

The Angels had only five hits, including a homer by Mike Trout, a double by Albert Pujols for his 2,991st career hit and two singles by Shohei Ohtani.

Samardzija (1-0) just made it through five innings to qualify for the win. He walked the bases loaded with two outs before manager Bruce Bochy came out for a mound visit. Justin Upton drove Samardzija's next pitch to the warning track in left, where Williamson caught it. Samardzija flinched at first, thinking it was gone, and then smiled as he walked toward the dugout. Bochy smiled and clapped his hands.

Samardzija opened the season on the disabled list with a pectoral strain suffered during spring training. He allowed two hits in five innings, struck out four and walked four.

Ohtani had the Angels' first hit off Samardzija, a single to center with two outs in the second. Ohtani had gone 0 for 4 with three strikeouts the night before as the Boston Red Sox completed a sweep. The designated hitter singled again in the ninth.

McCutchen, the designated hitter, drove a 1-2 pitch from Andrew Heaney into the Giants' bullpen beyond the left-field fence with one out in the fifth to chase the left-hander.

Heaney (0-1) allowed the first five batters to reach in the fifth. He allowed Williamson's homer to right and an RBI single by Austin Jackson.

Hundley hit an opposite-field shot to right in the second, his first. He added an RBI double in the eighth.

Trout homered to left-center off Pierce Johnson in the eighth, his seventh. Two batters later, Pujols drove a ball to the base of the fence in center before being replaced by pinch-runner Jefry Marte.

OHTANI'S BLISTER

Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn't sure if the seams on big league baseballs are what caused the blister on Ohtani's right middle finger that forced the Japanese two-way sensation out after just two innings Tuesday night against Boston in his third major league pitching start.

"He worked very hard getting used our baseball starting last winter," Scioscia said. "Blisters...come and go with pitchers occasionally at some point. Exactly when they crop up with some guys is a mystery. There are probably a lot of things that came into play for Shohei to have his become significant to where it affected some of his pitches. But I don't know if there's any one reason that you could pin down right now. He feels much better. We got him out in time last start where it didn't get any worse and hopefully he'll be able to make his next start."

Some pitchers blamed slicker balls for blisters last season.

Scioscia remained noncommittal about when Ohtani's next start would be, but a six-man rotation would have him Ohtani pitching Monday at Houston.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Giants: Placed OF Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right thumb and recalled Williamson from Triple-A Sacramento.

UP NEXT

Giants: LHP Derek Holland (0-2, 4.60) is scheduled to start Saturday night. He has appeared in more games against the Angels than any other team, going 10-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 28 appearances, including 25 starts.

Angels: RHP Garrett Richards (2-0, 3.60) is scheduled to make his first career start against San Francisco on Saturday night.

Hunter Pence placed on 10-Day DL, Mac Williamson to make season debut

Hunter Pence placed on 10-Day DL, Mac Williamson to make season debut

The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence (right thumb sprain) on the 10-day DL on Friday, and recalled outfielder Mac Williamson from the triple-A Sacramento River Cats to take his place against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Pence missed his first game of the season on Thursday, as San Francisco lost the series finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1. He's batting .172 on the season, and was 1-for-17 in his last five games. 

After revamping his swing, Williamson started off red-hot at the plate in Sacramento. He slashed .487/.600/1.026 in 50 plate appearances at triple-A. He will bat seventh and start in left field against the Angels. 

Two-way star Shohei Ohtani will bat sixth as the Angels' designated hitter, while Jeff Samardzija will take the hill for the Giants for the first time this season.

Here's who else will start for Bruce Bochy and Mike Scioscia. 

Giants (7-11)

1. Austin Jackson (R) CF

2. Joe Panik (L) 2B

3. Andrew McCutchen (R) DH

4. Buster Posey (R) 1B

5. Evan Longoria (R) 3B

6. Nick Hundley (R) C

7. Mac Williamson (R) LF

8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) RF

9. Kelby Tomlinson (R) SS

SP: Jeff Samardzija (First start this season)
 

Angels (13-6) 

1. Ian Kinsler (R) 2B

2. Mike Trout (R) CF

3. Justin Upton (R) LF

4. Albert Pujols (R) 1B

5. Luis Valbuena (L) 3B

6. Shohei Ohtani (L) DH

7. Andrelton Simmons (R) SS

8. Kole Calhoun (L) RF

9. Martin Maldonado (R) C

SP: Andrew Heaney (0-0, 5.40 ERA)

Giants look poised to put Mac Williamson in left field Friday

Giants look poised to put Mac Williamson in left field Friday

PHOENIX — After his team was held to fewer than two runs for the 10th time this season, manager Bruce Bochy said Mac Williamson will be in Anaheim on Friday as part of the taxi squad. The Giants need the outfielder to be more of a tow truck. 

This is a lineup that has not gotten in gear in any way, but a red-hot reinforcement is on the way. Williamson was hitting .487 with six homers in 11 games in Triple-A, and while Bochy couldn’t say he’ll be active and in left field against the Angels, it was not hard to read between the lines. Hunter Pence said the thumb he sprained in the home opener continues to give him problems and needs a few days of rest. It seems likely that Williamson will officially be called up Friday, with Pence going on the disabled list. 

“We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Bochy said. “Mostly he’s coming up because he’s swinging the bat well. We’re hoping he’ll be a shot in the arm and provide some production, and we need some help in that area.”

The futility has the Giants six games out of first after just three weeks of action. The culprit is clear. Johnny Cueto, Chris Stratton and Ty Blach combined to give up three runs over 20 innings in a tough ballpark, but the Giants still dropped two of three. 

They need more than just one offensive fix, but Williamson represents a start. The 27-year-old has never stuck in the majors, but he rebuilt his swing in the offseason while working with Doug Latta, a private instructor in the Los Angeles area who helped Justin Turner became a star. Williamson’s swing has many of the same markers as Turner’s, and he had a huge spring as he continued to work on adjustments. Williamson lowered his hands and added a higher leg kick in hopes of keeping his bat in the zone longer and being shorter and more direct to the ball. 

“In the past I’ve been really active with my shoulders and hands late in the swing instead of just going and attacking the ball,” he said this spring. “I’m trying to just really calm down a lot of that non-essential movement.”

Williamson knew there was not a spot for him on the opening day roster, but hoped to make an impact sooner than later. His torrid start, plus the struggles at the big league level, have made this a daily question. 

“He showed this spring with the adjustments he made that he’s primed,” Bochy said. “He went out and did what we were hoping.”

The key for the Giants now will be to show more faith than they have in the past. Williamson is a .226 hitter in the big leagues, but his 212 at-bats have been scattered across three seasons and plenty of call-ups. It seems he is always one 0 for 3 night away from a demotion, but the Giants would be well served to let him work through any kinks this time. 

The incumbent in left field, Pence, is batting .172. His backups — Gorkys Hernandez and Gregor Blanco — are better fits as defense-first reserves. Pence hurt his thumb while diving in left field during the home opener and said it has never gotten better. An MRI back then showed a sprain. 

“It’s been going in a backwards direction,” he said. 

So have the Giants, but perhaps help is finally on the way.