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. 

Giants sign No. 2 pick Joey Bart to largest upfront bonus ever for position player

Giants sign No. 2 pick Joey Bart to largest upfront bonus ever for position player

SAN FRANCISCO — After he visited AT&T Park for a pre-draft workout, Joey Bart said the cool weather made him feel like he could take swings all day. He’ll be back there on Monday. 

Bart was one of 32 Giants draft picks to sign, the team announced Sunday. The No. 2 overall selection in the draft will get a signing bonus of $7.025 million, per Jim Callis of, which is the largest upfront bonus ever for a position player. 

Bart, the highest Giants draft pick since Will Clark in 1985, led the ACC in batting average last season (.359) and hit 16 homers. He posted a .471 on-base percentage and slugged .632. Bart has been working out at the team facility in Arizona but will be introduced at AT&T Park before Monday’s game. 

In addition to Bart, the Giants signed the rest of their top 16 selections and 23 of their first 25. 

Bumgarner looks sharper, but Giants once again go down quietly at Dodger Stadium

Bumgarner looks sharper, but Giants once again go down quietly at Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES — We’ll start with the positive, because the alternative is so stunning that you almost need to build up to it. 

Madison Bumgarner had his pitch count removed in his third start back and responded by throwing 112 pitches, and showing signs of his old self. Bumgarner took the loss in a 3-1 clunker at Dodger Stadium, but all involved felt he took a big step forward in his six innings.

“Each time out I’ve felt better and better,” Bumgarner said. “That’s the only think you can ask for. I don’t know how long (until I’m in midseason form) but I’ll try to get there as fast as I can.”

Catcher Buster Posey said Bumgarner’s fastball was “jumping” more than in his previous two starts.

“He’s only going to get stronger as he goes on,” Posey said. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner is already plenty strong.

“I thought it was a good day for him,” he said. “Everything was crisper. He’s getting real close … [T]onight was real close to Madison and where he’s going to be.”

As for the rest of this one, well the production wasn’t close to enough. Bumgarner gave up a solo homer to Matt Kemp and a two-run shot to Enrique Hernandez and that easily held up. The Giants had no hits through four, wasted a golden opportunity in the seventh, and couldn’t take advantage of a wild Kenley Jansen in the ninth. 

Here’s the stunning negative. In their last 11 games at Dodger Stadium, their run totals are: 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 2, 1.

Asked to explain that amazing stretch of futility here, Posey paused for a long moment and then said he had no explanation. Bochy noted that the Dodgers play excellent defense — Posey was robbed of two hits by outfielders Saturday — and pitch well.

“It’s their pitching,” he said. “They have really good pitching. You saw a well-pitched game (tonight) and a guy who has been throwing the ball well yesterday. They’re a team that has really good pitching and really this isn’t a ballpark conducive to scoring lots of runs.”

All that said, going 11 consecutive games in a park without even reaching three runs is amazing, no matter who you are facing. For a while Saturday, it looked like Bumgarner might pull it out anyway. But Hernandez jumped on a hanging curveball in his third at-bat and hit his fourth career homer against Bumgarner. 

The lefty was well aware of the numbers — Hernandez is 15-for-33 off him — and said he has changed his approach in recent matchups. After Hernandez repeatedly pounded his fastball, he saw a steady diet of curveballs. Seven of the eight pitches he saw the first two times up Saturday were curveballs. The eighth curveball was the difference. 

“It’s no secret that I’ve thrown Hernandez a ton of curveballs the last few times and he made the adjustment,” Bumgarner said. “It wasn’t the best spot, either. He for sure made the adjustment. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap. That’s the cat and mouse game, the game within the game.”