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."

MLB Power Rankings 2019: Giants, A's open in middle of the pack

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USATSI

MLB Power Rankings 2019: Giants, A's open in middle of the pack

The MLB standings have an odd look right now. The Mariners are 2-0. The A's are 0-2. The other 28 teams are 0-0. 

That's what happens when you have two teams open their season overseas a week in advance, but the rest of the league will catch up on Thursday.

There will be early-season surprises and disappointments, and you can count on panic in at least one big market. That's the case every year.

But before the other 28 teams officially get going, let's take a look around the majors for our first edition of the Power Rankings, with a special focus on some guys who have Giants ties:

VIEW MLB POWER RANKINGS HERE

These Giants can reach major career milestones during 2019 MLB season

These Giants can reach major career milestones during 2019 MLB season

SAN FRANCISCO -- It has been 10 years since we first saw Buster Posey take the field for the Giants at Oracle Park. That emotional moment in Bruce Bochy's office when Brandon Belt found out he made the team? That was eight years ago. Brandon Crawford is about to begin his eighth season as the everyday shortstop. 

In other words, this core has been around a long time, and that means some of these guys are moving up the franchise charts and coming up on statistical milestones. Here are some to keep an eye on in 2019: 

Buster Posey

As a full-time big leaguer, Posey has only had two seasons where he wasn't worth at least four Wins Above Replacement -- and he had season-ending surgery both times. With another four-WAR season, Posey will move well into the top 10 on the franchise list, all the way up to seventh. He's currently 12th with 41.3 career WAR, per Baseball-Reference. He has a long, long way to catch franchise leader Willie Mays (154.8)

Brandon Crawford

It's been four years since the shortstop hit 21 homers, and the Giants haven't had anyone reach 20 since.

But Crawford needs just 13 this season to become the 31st player in franchise history to hit 100 homers with the Giants. He has 14 each of the past two seasons. 

Posey vs. Crawford

These longtime friends like to take good-natured shots at each other when it comes to stats (usually when stolen bases are involved), so we should point out that Crawford (58) is just three intentional walks behind Posey (61). Crawford needs two free passes this year to pass Matt Williams and move into 10th place on the franchise list. 

The Brandons

They like to tease each other, too, so we should also point out that Belt enters the season with 199 career doubles and Crawford is at 198. Game on. 

Madison Bumgarner

With 110 career wins, Bumgarner has surpassed former teammates Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. He needs 11 this season to move from 16th to 12th on the franchise's win list. Bumgarner will need an extension to get any higher than that. 

There's a nice round number at play, too. A couple of injury-marred years have bumped Bumgarner up to a 3.03 ERA. If he gets past 200 innings as he hopes and has an ERA in the 2.70 range, he would hit free agency with a career ERA that starts with the number two. That would surely please his agent. 

Bumgarner is also eighth on the franchise list with 1,591 strikeouts and he could move all the way to fourth, just ahead of Lincecum, if he spends the whole season in San Francisco. The left-hander needs 104 strikeouts to pass Cain (currently fifth) and 114 to pass Lincecum. 

Gerardo Parra

The next time Parra throws a runner out, he'll reach 100 assists for his career. He has 47 career assists in left, 38 in right and 14 in center.

If this feels to you like a rare arm on the Giants, you'd be correct. Over the last five seasons, the Giants rank 29th in the Majors with 103 outfield assists. Parra has 45 by himself during that time. 

Evan Longoria

If he matches last season's 54 RBI, Longoria will reach 1,000 for his career. He's also 23 homers from 300. Hitting that mark would be huge for the Giants offense. 

[RELATED: Giants open 2019 in middle of pack in MLB Power Rankings]

Bruce Bochy

Finally, there's the man who already has said this will be his final season. Bochy needs 74 wins to become the 10th to reach 2,000 as a manager. 

If the Giants can shake off the last two seasons and finish with a winning record (82-80), Bochy would tie Leo Durocher for 10th all-time in wins. It would obviously be pretty cool for him if he could get sole possession of that 10th spot, and given the state of today's game, it's unlikely that any future manager would ever knock Bochy out of the top 10. 

Finally, there's a goal that seems highly improbable. If the Giants win 90 games, Bochy would walk away with an even .500 record (2,016-2,016). Although if Bochy wins 90 games with this roster, Farhan Zaidi should probably talk him out of retirement.