Giants change strategy in 'September baseball'-type loss to Dodgers

Giants change strategy in 'September baseball'-type loss to Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- When the Giants claimed left-hander Wandy Peralta from the Reds on Saturday, they announced that he would join the team back in San Francisco. But Peralta showed up in the Dodger Stadium clubhouse Sunday morning, so there he was in the seventh inning, summoned from the bullpen with a couple of left-handers coming up for the Dodgers. 

Welcome to September baseball.

The Giants suited up 13 relievers Sunday and had a fully stocked bench, which led to a unique sequence for manager Bruce Bochy, who is three weeks from the end of his tenure. The Giants knew Dodgers lefty Julio Urias only had about 50 pitches in him, so Bochy started right-handed-hitters Donovan Solano at second and Austin Slater at first but told his Brandons to be ready. When right-hander Kenta Maeda took over in the third, Crawford pinch-hit for Solano and Belt hit for Slater. 

It didn't work. Both made outs and neither had a hit the rest of the way. Nothing worked, really. The Giants lost 5-0 in a game that would make anyone wish for a return to August and 25-man rosters. The Dodgers used six pitchers; Bochy countered with Dereck Rodriguez and four relievers who joined the club when rosters expanded. The strangest part came in that third, when two longtime members of the core entered to face the man who followed The Opener. 

"I told both Belt and Crawford that (others) are going to start the game but (Urias) is probably going 50 pitches, so be ready," Bochy said. "That was the plan. You have to be (ready). It's September baseball. It might be a little tougher on the hitters. They're getting a different look. Maeda, we just couldn't do anything against him."

The Dodgers felt the same about Rodriguez early. He struck out the side in the first and didn't allow a hit until the fourth, when Matt Beaty took him deep. Corey Seager hit a three-run homer an inning later. Rodriguez allowed just three hits but gave up five runs, three of which were unearned because of a Mauricio Dubon error. 

"I feel more frustrated than probably any other outing," Rodriguez said. "I felt good, was throwing the ball well. The one to Beaty was right in the middle but the one to Seager was down and he put a good swing on it."

Rodriguez himself is another example of how the game has changed. A rotation anchor last season, he heard this offseason that the Giants hoped to start him in Triple-A. That didn't end up happening, but Rodriguez still has bounced back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen and the big leagues to Triple-A. That's baseball in 2019. 

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The end result is that Rodriguez has never found his rhythm. He has a 5.09 ERA but said he hopes to finish his sophomore year on a high note. 

"I feel like I've learned more this year than I did last year," he said. "Last year I felt I could close my eyes and throw the ball where I wanted. This year it's the complete opposite. I feel I've learned more about baseball this year than in my whole life."

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."