Giants

A familiar story: Kershaw brings an end to Giants' winning streak

A familiar story: Kershaw brings an end to Giants' winning streak

SAN FRANCISCO — Johnny Cueto and Yasmani Grandal started jawing at each other at the end of the top of the third inning Wednesday, and as they do, the benches cleared. As coaches tried to calm the two and players glared at the other side, Clayton Kershaw burst from the visiting dugout. He did not join the fray.

Kershaw pounded his fist into his glove as he crossed onto the grass. He split the crowds and went straight to the mound, where he started warming up as players filed off the field. He wasn’t here to argue. He was here to end a winning streak.

The Giants, winners of five straight, ran into a familiar buzzsaw. There’s nothing you can do when Kershaw is on his game, and with Cueto off his, this one was over early. Kershaw threw seven shutout innings in a 6-1 Dodgers win. He lowered his career ERA against the Giants to 1.62.

“I think pretty good might be an understatement,” catcher Buster Posey said of Kershaw's day. 

The Giants had three hits — all singles — before Eduardo Nuñez took old friend Sergio Romo deep in the ninth. This one was over long before that. Given the way Kershaw pitched, it was just about decided when Grandal smoked a two-run double in the first. 

Cueto gave up a single and double with one out. He got Cody Bellinger swinging with a good changeup and he went down in the zone again with two strikes on Grandal. As Buster Posey spread his legs out and got ready to block a scud, Grandal found a way to turn on the slider and knock it off the wall.

“It was a good pitch,” Cueto said. “Grandal beat me on that one. I didn’t think he was going to be able to hit that ball.”

The two were in the middle of most of Wednesday’s drama. When Grandal came up in the third, a fastball flew up and in for a run-scoring wild pitch. Cueto said the ball slipped, but the two exchanged words after Grandal’s flyout.  

“I explained that the pitch slipped,” Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “I told him I wasn’t trying to throw at his head. I told him that if I’m going to hit him, I’ll do it low.”

The two spoke during Cueto’s first at-bat, and all was fine. They were sorry for the misunderstanding, Cueto said. There was one other aspect of the incident where there was no misunderstanding for Cueto. Asked if he might have been annoyed with the Dodgers for stealing signs, he paused. 

“What I’ll say is not to use that as an excuse, but they were relaying signs (from second),” he said. 

To do that, you need a runner on second, and the Giants never made Kershaw sweat. The win was his 20th over the Giants. 

“He was right on today,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Very tough. We had mostly right-handed bats out there but he had great stuff. We couldn’t put any pressure on him.”

The Giants have gotten used to these games. It was a bit easier to take because of what happened on the rest of the homestand. The Giants went 5-2, taking series from the Reds and Dodgers. They’re 17-25, which is nowhere near good, but they finally feel headed in the right direction. 

“We’ve got to be happy with it,” Posey said. “Obviously we would have liked to win today, but you have to be happy going into the off day.”

Giants CEO Larry Baer won't face criminal charges over incident with wife

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AP

Giants CEO Larry Baer won't face criminal charges over incident with wife

The San Francisco district attorney's office announced Tuesday that it has decided not to charge Giants CEO Larry Baer in relation to the March 1 incident with his wife, Pam.

"After a careful review of the relevant evidence, including multiple videos, statements from several witnesses and the parties themselves, the evidence does not support filing criminal charges," Alex Bastian, a district attorney’s office spokesman, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Giants said March 4 that Baer was stepping away from day-to-day operations of the Giants. MLB said on the day of the incident that it was “aware of the incident and, just like any other situation like this, will immediately begin to gather the facts. We will have no further comment until this process is completed."

Giants' new role players must step up for team to have successful 2019

Giants' new role players must step up for team to have successful 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before you start reading this, knock on wood a couple dozen times. 

The Giants have stayed healthy this spring, and that's the first step towards being better than they were the last two years. 

But that could change at any moment. After all, Madison Bumgarner got hurt in his final start last spring. Whether it's next week or next month, the Giants will need to start dipping into their depth, and while this has been a remarkably quiet offseason, they have done a decent job of upgrading the back ends of the active and 40-man rosters. 

The 2018 Giants were bad, but the 2018 Sacramento River Cats were also bad, which gave the big league club little hope of finding adequate replacements when injuries popped up, or regulars became ineffective. 

That's one area where this year's team should be better, and if you're looking for a way Farhan Zaidi can automatically pick up a few wins in Year 1, look no further than last year's roster. This is some of what he has had to replace:

Gorkys Hernandez: Despite the homers, he had a .656 OPS in 451 plate appearances
Hunter Pence: He is beloved, but posted a .226/.258/.332 line in 248 plate appearances
Gregor Blanco: Also a #ForeverGiant, but he hit .217/.262/.317 in 203 plate appearances 
Austin Jackson: Had a .604 OPS in 59 games before he was salary-dumped
Kelby Tomlinson: Great dude, fan favorite ... slugged .264 in 152 plate appearances
Chase d'Arnaud: Great dude, great with fans ... had a .618 OPS in 100 plate appearances

The pitching staff was better, but the Giants still had a lot of appearances Zaidi believes can be more effectively replaced. Notably, Hunter Strickland, who was non-tendered, had a 3.97 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 49 appearances and Pierce Johnson had a 5.56 ERA in 37 appearances. This year's bullpen is deeper and the rotation is deep enough that Andrew Suarez won't be in it to start the year. 

Of all the players listed above, Hernandez (0.5) was the only one with a positive WAR. The rest combined for negative four Wins Above Replacement.  

[RELATED: How will Giants narrow bullpen options before Opening Day?]

Will Yangervis Solarte make better use of those spare infield at-bats? Will Travis Bergen or Trevor Gott be better than the relievers who were let go? Will Mac Williamson, Gerardo Parra and Cameron Maybin greatly outperform Hernandez, Pence and Blanco? 

We'll see, but the standard set in 2018 was not at all a high one, and improvement from the complementary pieces on this year's roster would help the Giants inch a bit closer to meaningful September baseball.