Astros as good as advertised, Giants shelled to start road trip in Houston

Astros as good as advertised, Giants shelled to start road trip in Houston


HOUSTON — Well. The Houston Astros are as good as advertised.

Their deep lineup hammered Andrew Suarez and a series of Giants relievers, and Gerrit Cole had little trouble on the other side, as Houston took the opener 11-2 at Minute Maid Park. The Astros scored multiple runs in four of the first seven innings, improving to 31-18 on the season. The Giants fell back below .500 (24-25) and the road doesn’t get any easier. They’ll face Justin Verlander and his 1.05 ERA on Wednesday. 

The Giants knew this could be the toughest 48-hour stretch of the season. Here’s what you need to know from the first night… 

—- Suarez retired six straight to start the night and then walked into a buzzsaw. The Astros scored three in the third on three doubles and a single, and added two more in the fourth. Suarez was charged with five earned on seven hits in four innings. He has a 5.68 ERA. It’s not clear if he’ll make his next start, which is scheduled to come at Coors Field. 

—- Brandon Crawford definitely earned Thanksgiving bragging rights. He blooped a single off Cole, his brother-in-law, in the second and then lined a two-run shot into the Crawford Boxes in left field in the fifth. Crawford has said he doesn’t like facing Cole because they’re so close (they hung out on the off day with the rest of the family). He’s 6-for-20 off Cole. 

—- Cole struck out eight in six innings. He has 101 strikeouts this season. The Giants’ leaders in strikeouts are Chris Stratton and Derek Holland, with 42. 

—- The Giants brought in another pitcher, Josh Osich, instead of an outfielder, because Bruce Bochy felt he needed the depth. He was right. The bullpen ended up soaking up five innings. Osich pitched two, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. 

Willie Mays honors Aretha Franklin, 'I truly admired her'


Willie Mays honors Aretha Franklin, 'I truly admired her'

The world lost the Queen of Soul on Thursday. Music icon Aretha Franklin died at 76 years old. 

Franklin, who had perhaps the greatest voice of all-time, connected to people from all walks of life. Willie Mays is one of those people. 

Mays first met Franklin while starring with the New York Giants in the 1950s. After learning of her passing, Mays sent out the following statement where he shows how much he admired Franklin as both an artist and a person. 

Franklin passed away from pancreatic cancer at her home in Detroit. She will be missed from everyone in the music field, athletic field and beyond.

Giants notes: On hot night in LA, McCutchen gets enough carry to tie the game

Giants notes: On hot night in LA, McCutchen gets enough carry to tie the game

LOS ANGELES -- Andrew McCutchen claims he's never really up at the plate looking for a home run. Even in the situation Wednesday, with the Giants trailing by three and two on ahead of him, he was just thinking about having a good at-bat. This one turned into a great one. 

The Giants fell 4-3 in extra innings, but McCutchen was the one who made sure this night got extended. He had one of his best moments as a Giant, smoking a three-run shot to center off Caleb Ferguson to tie the game in the eighth. The homer was McCutchen's 14th. He said he briefly thought it might be just a long fly ball. 

"I've played in San Francisco all year," he said. "You hit the ball pretty good sometimes and it doesn't go out. I was hoping it would carry out."

On a hot night at Dodger Stadium, this ball did, providing one of two big highlights on an otherwise sour night. The other came from Gorkys Hernandez, who threw Brian Dozier out at the plate with a 94.9 mph strike from center field. Dozier was initially ruled safe. 

"I saw Buster point to the dugout to try to review the play," Hernandez said. "When I saw the umpires go right to the side to see the replay, I said, we're going to have a good chance."

The Giants usually have it right in those situations. They're now 17-for-22 on replays, the best mark in the league. 

--- Here, in the game story, I wrote on a missed opportunity. 

--- If you're keeping track at home, the Giants are at .500 for the 23rd time. They have spent 72 days this season either .500, or one game above or below. 

--- In five second-half starts, Derek Holland has a 2.96 ERA, with 27 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. At some point, the focus will turn to bringing him back next season.