Giants

Bruce Bochy meets with free-falling Giants ahead of 10th straight loss

Bruce Bochy meets with free-falling Giants ahead of 10th straight loss

SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy doesn’t like admitting that his team is out of the race no matter how many consecutive losses might pile up. He doesn’t like admitting that they’re playing poorly, and on three consecutive days he has talked about how many of the last 10 losses could have easily flipped the other way. 

But Bochy did make a concession to the reality of the situation on Tuesday afternoon. He met with his team, talking for about five minutes about the importance of playing hard and holding each other accountable. That is not a meeting you have when you’re trying to clinch a playoff spot. It’s the type of meeting you have when you’re losing every night and looking flat, as the Giants have while dropping 10 straight for the first time in 22 years. 

“This is a tough time of year when you’re going through something like this,” Bochy said after a 4-1 loss to the Braves. “It’s about character right now. You get in these tough times, it does build character.”

Bochy pointed out that there are only 16 games left, and while this season was long ago lost, the Giants are evaluating on a daily basis. It’s not just about hits or scoreless innings. He is looking for passion, effort, and fight. 

“This tells you a lot about players,” he said of the final three weeks. 

At the very least, the Giants have learned a bit more about two of their better ones. A night after Dereck Rodriguez took a brutal loss, Andrew Suarez gave up three runs over six innings against a tough lineup and had no chance of winning. He took the 11th loss of his rookie season, watching hard-throwing righty Mike Foltynewicz throw a 108-pitch complete game with relative ease against the coldest lineup in baseball. 

The Giants handed Foltynewicz his worst start of the season in May, but that was a different team. Andrew McCutchen hit second that day. Buster Posey hit third. Brandon Belt hit fourth, and on Tuesday he was limited to a pinch-hit appearance because of a knee that likely will require surgery. 

Without his stars, Bochy started five young players. The result was predictable, but the rookie pitcher took it in stride. 

“We really can’t do anything about that,” Suarez said of the lack of run support. “We’ve got to go out there and try to keep the game close.”

This is where Bochy has learned something. He is looking for character, and he sees it in Rodriguez and Suarez. On Monday night, Rodriguez asked to go out for the seventh inning despite a high pitch count. A night later, Suarez worked around plenty of traffic to try and keep his team in the game.

“They’re doing great,” Bochy said of the two, the pride clear in his voice. “They’re handling everything fine. Both of them are good kids, good competitors.”

Madison Bumgarner explains what's 'special' about being Giants player

Madison Bumgarner explains what's 'special' about being Giants player

Before the season started, Madison Bumgarner not only was the main topic of trade conversation for the Giants, but he was one of the main subjects to discuss in all of baseball.

What would the ROI be for an experienced guy with MadBum’s list of accomplishments? Where would he end up? The questions were endless.

And the thought of him no longer being a Giant was becoming more of a reality as the season trickled by.

During a recent interview with NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez, the three-time World Series champion was asked what it was like to be a Giants up until this point after receiving a heartwarming comment from a fan.

"It means everything," he said. "My career up until this point has been here, and we've done a lot of special things here -- man, it's so many good memories -- and some bad ones too, but you got to take the good with the bad. But this is a special place. Unbelievable fans, and it's really special and means a lot."

[RELATED: Will Smith on Twins' trade radar, not MadBum]

It's no secret how much Bumgarner loves playing for the Giants, and he's kept rather hush-hush on what the future holds for him. Despite knowing he more than likely won't be with the team for much longer, the memories he possesses are something that cannot be duplicated. 

Giants present spunky new lineup vs. Rockies, but it's not enough in loss

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USATSI

Giants present spunky new lineup vs. Rockies, but it's not enough in loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- It was a different look on Wednesday afternoon, and for three innings it was a pretty spunky one.

Bruce Bochy went with lefties -- mostly not the familiar ones -- atop the lineup and the Giants had some success against tough right-handed pitcher German Marquez, who nearly no-hit them earlier this year. It wasn't enough to overcome a grand slam given up by Jeff Samardzija, but as Bochy desperately searches for solutions at Oracle Park, perhaps he has stumbled onto something. 

Brandon Belt hit leadoff and the plan is for that to continue for a few more games, at least. Mike Yastrzemski hit second and scored in the first before doubling while leading off the fifth. Pablo Sandoval had an RBI double and solo homer while hitting third. Alex Dickerson had an RBI double in the two-run first and later drew a walk. Stephen Vogt, batting fifth, had hits in his first two at-bats. 

This is not at all what the Giants planned. Belt hit leadoff one time in his career before Tuesday. Yastrzemski and Vogt started the season in Triple-A and Dickerson was with the Padres. Sandoval, who has turned into Bochy's most dangerous hitter, ended a nervous spring thinking he would get mostly pinch-hit at-bats. 

But for about an hour there Wednesday, the lineup looked somewhat dangerous and worked Marquez hard. Bochy said he could take a look at that lefty-hitting group again depending on the matchups. 

"We had some great at-bats," he said. "We hit a lot of balls hard. I thought it was one of our better days offensively even though we only scored three runs."

The Giants will wait and see what they have in Yastrzemski and Dickerson, and while Vogt has seen more time of late, he won't be supplanting Buster Posey. Belt is the one with easily the tightest hold on a starting job, but Sandoval may not be far behind now given his play. He has started 13 games in June and isn't slowing down. The homer tied him with Kevin Pillar for the team lead at 10, and the double left the bat at 114.7 mph, a season-high for the Giants. The OPS is back above .900. 

[RELATED: Ramos ends slump in a huge way]

"He's got his rhythm and timing right now," Bochy said. "He's seeing the ball well and it's jumping off the bat."

Sandoval will continue to see time near the top of the order. Given where the team is, the rest of the guys who made up the upper half Wednesday probably should, too.