Giants

Bruce Bochy's take on Bryce Harper decision: 'Got to think it's close'

Bruce Bochy's take on Bryce Harper decision: 'Got to think it's close'

After a couple of quiet weeks, the Giants are back to being fully immersed in Harper Watch.

The front office and Bryce Harper have discussed a 10-year deal worth in excess of $300 million, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday, and there are indications that the slugger could make a decision before the end of the week.

A source familiar with discussions said the Giants believe Harper could choose his next team in the next couple of days, and manager Bruce Bochy seems to believe that, too.

“We don’t know what his decision is going to be,” Bochy said after Wednesday’s game, according to Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic. "We are grateful we are in the mix, and sure, we hope things work out, but I can’t be concerned with something we don’t have.

“I’ve got to think it’s close. I don’t know, but I’d think it would be.”

For a couple of weeks, it seemed Harper was close to signing with the Phillies. But he met with the Giants for a second time Tuesday, per Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. Harper and agent Scott Boras also met with the Dodgers on Sunday. 

For months, it seemed the Harper team might have overplayed its hand, but it now appears to be sitting pretty. Harper and Boras have pitted the Dodgers and the Giants against each other, with the Phillies — who were desperate to add one of the winter’s two biggest free agents — also still in the mix.

[RELATED: Harper the betting favorite for NL MVP despite no team]

It seems a lock now that Boras will comfortably clear the $300 million mark on Harper's next contract. It’s just a matter of picking a time, and picking a team. 

Madison Bumgarner passes Matt Cain in career strikeouts; Tim Lincecum next

Madison Bumgarner passes Matt Cain in career strikeouts; Tim Lincecum next

SAN FRANCISCO -- No matter what happens over the next week or the month after that, Madison Bumgarner will always be identified by what he did during a magical five-year postseason run with the Giants, one in which he often walked side-by-side with two pitchers who are legendary in San Francisco for their own accomplishments. 

It's appropriate, then, that at a time when every Bumgarner start seems bittersweet in a way, he is once again standing between Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. 

The trade rumors keep swirling and Bumgarner keeps setting down opposing hitters, and with 11 strikeouts in a 4-2 win over the Rockies he inched past Cain on the franchise's all-time strikeout list. With 1,695, he's one ahead of Cain and just nine from tying Lincecum.

Bumgarner expressed amazement that Lincecum piled up more than 1,700 strikeouts in what seemed like such a short time. He said he might have to send a message to Cain, his mentor and friend. More than anything, he seemed humbled by that kind of company. 

"It's pretty special to me to be on any kind of leaderboard or close to the top on certain things for this organization," Bumgarner said. "It's been around a long time and a lot of really good players have come through here, so that's definitely an honor."

With 10 more strikeouts, Bumgarner will trail just Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal and Amos Rusie on the franchise list, with Marichal the all-time leader (2,281) as a San Francisco Giant. It's not a lock that Bumgarner will get a chance to keep climbing. Every start these days could be his last in orange and black, but on Tuesday the 31,000 in attendance were treated to another throwback performance.  

Both pitchers seemed to take advantage of the shadows in the first inning, combining for five strikeouts, but Bumgarner was able to keep his momentum going as the lineup chipped away at Rockies right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez. Bumgarner struck out a pair in each of the first three innings and was perfect until Ian Desmond hit a flat changeup into the left field seats with one out in the fourth. 

Bumgarner struck out at least one hitter in each of his six innings, but a defensive misplay put him on his heels near the end of the rope. With two outs and a runner on second in the sixth, Alex Dickerson lost a pop-up to left in the lights as the Rockies cut the deficit to 3-2. Bumgarner responded by freezing Ryan McMahon with a fastball on his final pitch of the night. 

That strikeout gave Bumgarner 11 for the first time since April 2, 2017, which was his last double-digit strikeout performance and a start that came three weeks before the dirt bike crash. Six of the strikeouts came on a curveball that subtly changed speeds throughout the night. 

"He had his good fastball but at the same time, the off-speed pitches," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He had a good mix going with good command."

[RELATED: Giants, Dodgers not ruling out trade]

Bumgarner had something else, too. After a start in Los Angeles last Thursday that was one of the worst of his career, he realized he had become too predictable to one side of the plate. 

"These guys are too good to do that to," he said. "The plate is small enough as it is, so you'd better use the whole thing."

Rockies vs. Giants lineups: Why Bruce Bochy has Brandon Belt leading off

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USATSI

Rockies vs. Giants lineups: Why Bruce Bochy has Brandon Belt leading off

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants on Tuesday will have a No. 2 hitter who was in the minors when the season started, a cleanup hitter who has played just four games with the team, and a No. 5 hitter who began the season in Toronto. But that's not what stood out when the lineup went up. 

Brandon Belt is hitting leadoff for just the second time in his career. Belt is not your prototypical leadoff hitter but he leads the team with a .359 on-base percentage and nobody else is particularly close. Joe Panik is the next highest among regulars at .317. 

"Hopefully he gets on base. He's a good on-base guy, but also a power threat," manager Bruce Bochy said of the decision. "It's fair to say offensively we've had our struggles and sometimes you change thing to see if you get out of that rut, especially here at home. We've had a lot of games where we've scored two runs or less."

The Giants got blanked 2-0 in the first game of this series with the Rockies. They rank last in the Majors with 116 runs scored at home and have a .284 team on-base percentage at Oracle Park. Bochy said he has thought about making the change for a few days. 

"If it doesn't work you can look at me," he said, laughing.

[RELATED: Giants, Dodgers not ruling out trade]

Here are tonight's full lineups: 

Colorado Rockies (41-37)
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) RF
2. Ian Desmond (R) CF
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. David Dahl (L) LF
5. Chris Iannetta (R) C
6. Ryan McMahon (L) 2B
7. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
8. Garrett Hampson (R) SS
9. Chi Chi Gonzalez (R) P (2019 season debut)

San Francisco Giants (33-44)
1. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
2. Mike Yastrzemski (L) RF
3. Buster Posey (R) C
4. Alex Dickerson (L) LF
5. Kevin Pillar (R) CF
6. Evan Longoria (R) 3B
7. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
8. Donovan Solano (R) 2B
9. Madison Bumgarner (R) P (3-7, 4.28 ERA)