Conner Menez

Giants' bats 'aren't clicking' as team loses ground in playoff race

Giants' bats 'aren't clicking' as team loses ground in playoff race

SAN FRANCISCO -- There is the section in the game notes handed out by the Giants that summarizes the head-to-head record with each opponent. The blurb about the Nationals includes this line: "The Giants are not slated to face Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer in this three-game series."

Yes, the Giants caught a break as they returned home for a big week against the Nationals and Phillies. They were lined up against Erick Fedde, Anibal Sanchez and Joe Ross. 

So far, they have not taken advantage of it. 

A night after Fedde dominated, the lineup did little against Sanche -- a veteran having a solid year -- and the Nationals before a couple of big late hits from bench bat Pablo Sandoval. It wasn't enough, as a 5-3 loss was the eighth in the last 12 games. The Giants are back behind six teams in the NL Wild Card race and sit two games under .500. 

The formula lately has been a familiar one: The Giants aren’t hitting. Again. They’ve scored more than three runs just four times in the past 12 games and entered with a .698 OPS over their previous 11. That scorching July is a distant memory right now.

“It was going to be hard to keep that pace and I do think at times we’re having some tough luck,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re just not clicking, that’s fair to say, too. That’s why I put (Stephen) Vogt in left field. You just keep going. You’re going to have ruts.” 

Bochy added that the Giants will need to pitch well and win close games, but that’s putting an awful lot of pressure on a young staff. On Tuesday, rookie lefty Conner Menez gave up a pair of homers and five runs in his second career start. 

The solution isn’t coming from Triple-A at this point. The Giants need more from their core, and that’s what makes this recent skid so concerning. This is wildly similar to the first two months -- down to the fact that Sandoval is providing most of the punch off the bench. 

Bochy said Sandoval, Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt will split time at first and third for now, and Donovan Solano is expected to play more. The production will have to come from within, as the big move already was made. A few hours before they took the field, the Giants designated Joe Panik for assignment. Bochy didn't think that impacted his team. 

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"The focus was good," he said. "It was on the game. That's a tough day for a lot of us who spent lots of time with Joe. We just got behind and had an uphill climb there."

Nationals vs. Giants lineups: Conner Menez makes second big league start

Nationals vs. Giants lineups: Conner Menez makes second big league start

The Giants lineup will be without Joe Panik as they continue their series against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday after the longtime second baseman was DFA'd

Scooter Gennett will have starting honors. 

Panik sent out a heartfelt message to the organization and fans saying he will forever be a Giant. 

This, of course, started a slew of moves, with Conner Menez being promoted to the big league club to get the start on the mound and Williams Jerez was added to the roster from Triple-A. Sam Selman was optioned in order to clear an additional roster spot.

The Nats will send Aníbal Sánchez to the mound which could create some trouble for the Orange and Black. The 35-year-old has not recorded a loss since May 10. The 12-game stretch has him going 6-0 with a 2.88 ERA. And against San Francisco across his career, he's 3-0 with a 0.58 ERA in four starts -- two of those have been complete-game shutouts.

The Nationals on Tuesday announced the team has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera. He's not in the starting lineup.

As far as the Giants' side of the ball, Menez will make his second major league start and the team continues to be without Alex Dickerson. He's been placed on the 10-day IL with a right oblique strain.

Here are how the lineups look to take shape at Oracle Park on Tuesday night.

You can follow the action on NBC Sports Bay Area or by downloading and streaming on the MyTeams app.

Washington Nationals (59-53)

Trea Turner, SS
Gerardo Parra, RF
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Juan Soto, LF
Kurt Suzuki, C
Brian Dozier, 2B
Matt Adams, 1B
Victor Robles, CF
Aníbal Sánchez, P (6-6, 3.80 ERA)

San Francisco Giants (56-57)

Brandon Belt, 1B
Mike Yastrzemski, RF
Buster Posey, C
Stephen Vogt, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Scooter Gennett, 2B
Kevin Pillar, CF
Brandon Crawford, SS
Conner Menez, P (0-0, 3.60 ERA)

Conner Menez rises, Chris Shaw falls on new Giants' top prospects list

Conner Menez rises, Chris Shaw falls on new Giants' top prospects list

The Giants entered this season with one of the worst farm systems in baseball. That has changed in a flash, just as the team looks to make another magical run in manager Bruce Bochy's final year sailing the ship. 

As top prospects Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano have lived up to their hype, many others have been pleasant surprises. Everything can't be perfect, however, and there certainly have been a few disappointments this year as well. 

MLB.com recently released their new top-30 rankings for each organization and there are a plethora of changes for the Giants. Here are the risers and fallers, and who joins the list from the team's 2019 draft class. 

Risers

Conner Menez (No. 16): The left-hander wasn't even ranked in the Giants top 30 prospects to enter the season. Menez, 24, had average numbers at best his first two seasons in the minor leagues. 

He broke out last season and led all lefties in the minors with 171 strikeouts in 135 1/3 innings between three levels -- Advanced Class-A San Jose, Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento. Menez started the season in Double-A this year and jumped all the way to making his major league debut. 

Between Richmond and Sacramento, Menez has gone 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA and has 129 strikeouts in 99 innings. He struck out six and allowed two earned runs over five innings in his Giants debut.

Seth Corry (No. 8): Corry, the Giants' third-round pick in 2017, has developed slowly but it's paying off now. The fellow lefty has been downright filthy this season in Low-A Augusta. Corry tossed 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball with 10 strikeouts Monday night before hitting his pitch limit. 

The 20-year-old struggled with his command at the start of his career. This season, he's greatly improved in that area and hasn't allowed more than two walks in his past seven starts. Corry is 8-2 with a 1.85 ERA on the year and has 129 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings. 

Franklin Labour (18): Labour, 21, also entered the season unranked. The Giants signed Labour out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 for $70K and have slow-played the start to his career in the minors. This year, though, he's enjoying a huge season at Class A Short Season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. 

The 6-foot-1 outfielder has raw power and that's translated to 14 home runs in 39 games. He's also hitting .312 with a 1.053 OPS. 

Fallers 

Chris Shaw (19): The former first-round pick keeps sliding down the rankings. Shaw made his major league debut last season but struggled in 22 games with the Giants. He then started the year back down in Double-A.

Between Richmond and Sacramento, Shaw has done everything that's asked of him. He's slashing .302 with 20 home runs and has a .371 on-base percentage. Shaw could be a late bloomer in the bigs or he simply could be a "Quadruple-A" player. 

Heath Quinn (30): Quinn, 24, came into the season as the Giants' No. 13 prospect. He has some of the most power in the farm system, but can't stay consistent or healthy. After starting the year in Double-A, he's back in Single-A San Jose. 

2019 MLB Draft Class

Hunter Bishop (4), Logan Wyatt (13), Grant McCray (22), Trevor McDonald (24), Tyler Fitzgerald (27), Garrett Frechette (28), Dylan Rosario (29)

Bishop clearly is the cream of the crop from the draft class. He's only hit .194 since being promoted to Salem-Keizer, but he still only has one more strikeout than walk to start his career in the minors. 

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Frechette is a name to watch who can rise up the ranks. He has a sweet swing and his 6-foot-3 frame should help him unlock his natural power. At only 18 years old, keep an eye on him in the coming years.