Giants' bats 'aren't clicking' as team loses ground in playoff race

Giants' bats 'aren't clicking' as team loses ground in playoff race

SAN FRANCISCO -- There is the section in the game notes handed out by the Giants that summarizes the head-to-head record with each opponent. The blurb about the Nationals includes this line: "The Giants are not slated to face Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer in this three-game series."

Yes, the Giants caught a break as they returned home for a big week against the Nationals and Phillies. They were lined up against Erick Fedde, Anibal Sanchez and Joe Ross. 

So far, they have not taken advantage of it. 

A night after Fedde dominated, the lineup did little against Sanche -- a veteran having a solid year -- and the Nationals before a couple of big late hits from bench bat Pablo Sandoval. It wasn't enough, as a 5-3 loss was the eighth in the last 12 games. The Giants are back behind six teams in the NL Wild Card race and sit two games under .500. 

The formula lately has been a familiar one: The Giants aren’t hitting. Again. They’ve scored more than three runs just four times in the past 12 games and entered with a .698 OPS over their previous 11. That scorching July is a distant memory right now.

“It was going to be hard to keep that pace and I do think at times we’re having some tough luck,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re just not clicking, that’s fair to say, too. That’s why I put (Stephen) Vogt in left field. You just keep going. You’re going to have ruts.” 

Bochy added that the Giants will need to pitch well and win close games, but that’s putting an awful lot of pressure on a young staff. On Tuesday, rookie lefty Conner Menez gave up a pair of homers and five runs in his second career start. 

The solution isn’t coming from Triple-A at this point. The Giants need more from their core, and that’s what makes this recent skid so concerning. This is wildly similar to the first two months -- down to the fact that Sandoval is providing most of the punch off the bench. 

Bochy said Sandoval, Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt will split time at first and third for now, and Donovan Solano is expected to play more. The production will have to come from within, as the big move already was made. A few hours before they took the field, the Giants designated Joe Panik for assignment. Bochy didn't think that impacted his team. 

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"The focus was good," he said. "It was on the game. That's a tough day for a lot of us who spent lots of time with Joe. We just got behind and had an uphill climb there."

Giants GM Scott Harris grew up Cubs fan, brother favored San Francisco

Giants GM Scott Harris grew up Cubs fan, brother favored San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Scott Harris said goodbye to family members on Monday, a Giants employee walked over and dropped off two big bags full of jerseys and orange-and-black gear.

One of his parents needed to load up on the gifts more than the other. 

Harris grew up in Redwood City with a mother who is a Giants fan, but his father, who is from Chicago, is a diehard Chicago Cubs fan. When it came time to pass on their rooting interests, they came up with an easy solution for their children.

"They divided the sons," Scott said, smiling. "I was raised a Cubs fan and my brother was raised a Giants fan, which put my nephew Teddy in an awkward spot because his dad loves the Giants and his uncle was working for the Cubs. Now at least Teddy has a little more clarity."

As Scott finished telling the story, his brother, Chris, laughed and quickly clapped. This worked out well for half of the Harris family. Scott will try and help his mother and brother's favorite team get back to the postseason, and his father has already benefited from the son's talents. Scott was part of the front office that finally brought a championship to Wrigley. 

On his first full day on the job, Scott talked about what made the Giants such a good fit -- aside from the family's rooting interests. He's excited to be back in the Bay Area and noted that as he took profile pictures under the sun at Oracle Park, the temperature was in the mid-20s back in Chicago. Harris has also been through a winter in New York, so he was thrilled to be working back in the Bay Area. The entire Harris family was fired up, too. His parents and brother sat in the fourth row for an introductory press conference and then got a tour of the clubhouse. 

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"I want to thank my family for always supporting me and their relentless pursuit of a way to get me back to the Bay Area. It worked, thank you," Harris said as he looked out as his parents and brother. "It's such a privilege to be here. It's a privilege to come back home. It's a privilege to work for a flagship organization with such a passionate and deserving fan base. 

"I grew up in Redwood City and vividly remember learning what the game looks like at the highest level by watching generations of Giants players come through Candlestick and come through this park."

Giants closing in on new manager after hiring Scott Harris as their GM

Giants closing in on new manager after hiring Scott Harris as their GM

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Giants officials and members of the media filed out of the press conference room at Oracle Park on Monday, a team employee reached over and flicked off one set of lights. Nobody bothered to take down the podium or remove the temporary seating. That all might be needed again in a few hours.

The Giants introduced Scott Harris as general manager on Monday and are poised to hold another press conference for their new manager. Harris is in the process of meeting with the remaining candidates and Farhan Zaidi said he would "have significant input into the final decision."

Zaidi said the manager announcement would come this week, and the Giants were internally preparing to introduce a new manager as soon as Tuesday. There are still three known finalists, and no decision had been made as of Monday morning. There are two who have separated from the pack, though. Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and Astros bench coach Joe Espada both have high-level supporters in the organization, per sources, and Kapler met with Giants officials again on Monday. He is said to be the frontrunner at this point. 

The search has lasted more than a month now, in part because it ran as the same time as the search for a new GM.

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"Having both of these balls in the air at the same time has made scheduling difficult and tricky at times," Zaidi said. "I'm just really happy that we have been able to get (Harris) in place and he does have that chance to connect with those candidates and provide input and really have a say in the final decision that I expect us to make this week."