Giants

On big day for Slater, Nunez saves Giants from horrific time in Milwaukee

On big day for Slater, Nunez saves Giants from horrific time in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- In the second inning Thursday, a man burst from the seats along the left field line and headed for second base, his arms spread wide to show that he had left his pants and any underwear somewhere along the journey. The man was taken down hard, a soon-to-be pixelated section of his body grinding into the dirt where Brandon Crawford had just stood. It looked painful, possibly scarring. The infield dirt at Miller Park is firm and well-manicured.

We do not know why exactly a man would run naked across the dirt in the second inning, although we can guess. What we do know is that he still nearly had a better time at Miller Park than the Giants. If not for Eduardo Nuñez's vertical, he might have. 

Mark Melancon blew a two-run lead in the ninth but this time the Giants didn't fold. They responded with four runs in the top of the 10th, winning 9-5 and partially obscuring what had happened an inning earlier, and another potential issue. 

"You look at how it's gone for us -- we've had some tough times -- and we give up a two-run lead there in the ninth and find a way to win the ballgame," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That shows a lot about them, the character and how resilient they are, to come back and put a four-spot up, especially on a road trip that hasn't been good for us."

The trip ended up being a 3-4 swing through Philadelphia -- home of the worst team in ball -- and Milwaukee, where the Giants have always played well. This was not the trip that got things back on course. In fact, it likely further emboldened any in the organization ready for a change. Brian Sabean was on hand Thursday and nearly saw the latest collapse. Nuñez prevented it, snagging a hot liner headed for left with the winning run on third. Melancon bounced back to get the Giants out of the ninth. 

The big offseason acquisition, Melancon has three blown saves in 13 oppotunities. Of equal concern is the fact that Thursday was his first opportunity since May 27. It's been that kind of year, and it's clear the Giants still have some concerns in the bullpen. At least they finally have something to celebrate in left field. 

Bochy has been waiting for someone to grab the job and Austin Slater certainly showed he's worthy of an extended look. Slater reached base three times and smacked a 461-foot homer off the base of the scoreboard. Slater's first career blast was the longest by a Giant since Brandon Belt went 475 at Coors in 2015. 

"People were telling me where it went -- I put my head down and started running," Slater said. "I think I got a little better at (slowing the game down) these last two games in Milwaukee. Those first three in Philly it just felt like everything was racing by and everything was going 100 mph."

Bochy has encouraged his young outfielders to try and play relaxed baseball.

"Just show your talent," he said. "The only way to play this game is loose and free, that's when your talent surfaces."

Giants misplay grounder in shift, can't recover against Braves

Giants misplay grounder in shift, can't recover against Braves

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants did not take batting practice on Wednesday or run through any pregame drills on the field, but even with a six-hour workout they probably would not have practiced the play that helped put them in a deep hole. 

Jeff Samardzija should have been out of the second with the game still scoreless, but the Giants botched what looked to be an inning-ending double play. Ozzie Albies hit a one-hopper back to the mound and Samardzija spun to throw, but there was a shift on, and third baseman Evan Longoria, playing short, did not cover the bag. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, playing where a second baseman usually would, also did not cover. 

After a 9-2 loss, Samardzija called it a "freak thing," "unfortunate" and something the Giants hadn't really worked on. 

"I turned around and really just saw center field," Samardzija said. "I tried to lead one of them to the bag and obviously at that point it was too late. There are a lot of great things about the shift, but sometimes it does get guys out of position."

The Braves ended up with two on and one out, and Dansby Swanson blasted a flat cutter into the left-field seats for a three-run homer a few batters later. Freddie Freeman made it 6-0 two pitches after that with a solo shot to right-center. Samardzija mixed a costly wild pitch into the rally, too. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said the miscommunication in the shift was something the staff and players would discuss. 

"They're not set up like that very often, but it's all about communication and knowing who has got it," Bochy said. 

[RELATED: Bochy mixes up pregame routine looking for better starts]

In Cincinnati or Denver, perhaps the Giants would have rallied. But this being Oracle Park, the rest of the night was a slow crawl to loss No. 27.

All six runs on Samardzija's line went down as unearned. He said he was happy with the way he battled after the early mistakes. But that second inning was all it took. 

"You've got to be on your game the whole time and can't give them extra chances, and if you do, you've got to shut the door," Samardzija said. 

Watch Giants playoff hero Cody Ross sink hole-in-one at Pebble Beach

codyrossusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Watch Giants playoff hero Cody Ross sink hole-in-one at Pebble Beach

Cody Ross is famous for a few particular swings during his tenure with the Giants.

He has since retired, but apparently still has a knack for the memorable moment.

On Wednesday, the former playoff hero was jumping for joy again, but this time, it was due to a different sort of athletic achievement.

Ross, of course, was named the 2010 NLCS MVP and hit five home runs in the 2010 postseason on the way to the first of three Giants' World Series titles in a span of five years.

[RELATED: New rules would have prevented Giants from adding Cody Ross in 2010]

Clearly, he can still put a good swing on a ball.