Giants digging hole with first-inning woes, and they might not have solution

Giants digging hole with first-inning woes, and they might not have solution

PITTSBURGH -- Madison Bumgarner was mad at himself for digging too big a hole Friday night, and he certainly did just that. But as the Giants move past the 20-game mark, it's clear that it's another part of the team mostly digging the holes. 

The Giants are the only team in the Majors without a run in the first inning and they have scored first just six times in 21 games. When Bumgarner gave up four in the bottom of the first Friday, that was all it took. The Giants had not, of course, done any damage in the top of the inning. They would lose 4-1 on their first night with the Pirates. 

The first-inning woes have been there since the first at-bats of the season. The Giants are 6-for-66 in the first inning, and all six of the hits have been singles. They have just two walks in 21 first innings and have struck out 21 times. 

"Not scoring early again, that's making every game an uphill climb for us," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Friday's script was familiar. After an 85-minute rain delay, Steven Duggar opened the night by striking out. He is 3-for-17 while leading off games, with seven strikeouts. Joe Panik, who is batting .193, also struck out and Buster Posey, batting .217, grounded out to second.  

Bochy said the staff is talking about changes that can be made, but they are limited by their personnel. Kevin Pillar also brings speed, but he's batting just .167. Gerardo Parra is at .224. Up and down the lineup, there is nobody hitting, or reaching base at a rate that screams "put me up near the top of the lineup!"

"There's not a lot that you can do at this point," Bochy said. "These are our guys and you can move them a spot or two. But wherever you hit in the order, those guys have to come through. You look at the back end of (Pittsburgh's) order and they did a pretty good job in the first inning."

Bumgarner retired the first two batters he faced before walking third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who entered batting just .130. Josh Bell singled and Francisco Cervelli hit a two-run double. The exit velocity barrage continued a bit longer, and singles by Pablo Reyes and JB Shuck made it 4-0 before the rain drops on the dugout seats had even had time to dry. Bumgarner threw 38 pitches in the inning. 

"They weren't all bad pitches but a lot of them were," he said. "You've got to give those guys credit. With two outs and nobody on, to score four, that's hard to do even in batting practice."

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The first-inning blip was the only one for Bumgarner, who has always had a good time in this park. In his next five innings he allowed just two singles and struck out six. 

But the damage had been done. It was an uphill climb, and as they've done for most of a month now, the Giants didn't approach the summit.

Why Giants' Bruce Bochy had such a hard time DFAing Mac Williamson

Why Giants' Bruce Bochy had such a hard time DFAing Mac Williamson

SAN FRANCISCO -- It wasn't an easy conversation.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy had to break the news to Mac Williamson that the team had designated the outfielder for assignment Saturday. It was the second time the Giants DFA'd Williamson in the past two months.

As many times as the skipper has had these conversations, and as difficult as they must be, this was different.

"You pull for [the players] every day, but not as hard as I have for Mac, especially with him working hard to get this opportunity," Bochy said prior to the Giants' 10-4 loss to the D-backs later in the day.

But the team needed help, and Williamson was struggling at the plate. He had just six hits in 57 plate appearances with one home run and seven RBI. 

"You just get to a point where we just need some help and so it was not an easy one," Bochy added.

Bochy knows Williamson exemplifies being a Giant -- he was drafted by the team and he, by all accounts, is a Giant.

"He's had to deal with things like the concussion, so he'll go through waivers again and he can elect free agency. I don't know what's going to happen, but he's gotta keep pushing," Bochy said. "He'll get another opportunity and hopefully it works out well."

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A mere few weeks ago, Williamson posted an emotional message on Instagram following a stellar outing with the Giants the day after his big league return. It was just one game, as he said, but it was a good one. 

For Williamson, however, that day in Denver could be one of his last positive memories as a Giant. And that will never sit well with his former skipper.

Watch Kevin Pillar make insane catch vs. D-backs in Giants double play

Watch Kevin Pillar make insane catch vs. D-backs in Giants double play


You're not allowed to cheer from the pressbox, but I had my jaw practically on the floor during a crazy Kevin Pillar diving catch from the Giants right fielder.

In the top of the first inning of Saturday's D-backs vs. Giants game, Kevin Cron smacked a line drive to right field. If you watch the play, you were more than likely thinking there was no way Pillar would be able to snag it, but boy was I wrong.

Superman laid out and made the grab. But he wasn't done yet. He threw it in to second baseman Joe Panik who sent it to Brandon Belt for the double play to get Adam Jones out at first.


Future note for any batters facing the Giants -- keep it away from anywhere Pillar might be playing.