Giants

Giants enter All-Star break with a whimper, lose second straight to A's

Giants enter All-Star break with a whimper, lose second straight to A's

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SAN FRANCISCO -- There were many positives in the first half for the Giants, but the All-Star break came with a whimper. 

The lineup scattered five hits, Andrew Suarez had a rare dud, and the Giants fell 6-2 to the A's in the third game of this six-game set. They've lost two straight after a good win on Friday night and enter the break with a 50-48 record and in fourth place in the National League West. 

Here's what you need to know from "Don't Miss Your Red-eye Flight" Day... 

--- Suarez was cruising through his final start of the half before the wheels came off in the fourth. Suarez didn’t allow a hit to that point, but Jed Lowrie walked with one out and the A’s followed with four consecutive singles. A sacrifice fly capped the four-run inning. Suarez gave up four earned in five innings, walking two and striking out five. He had allowed four total runs in his four previous starts. 

--- Because of all his injuries, Ray Black often wasn’t allowed to pitch back-to-back days in the minor leagues. Bruce Bochy tested him Sunday, sending him out for the seventh a few hours after Black got a couple outs in relief of Tony Watson. Black easily handled the test, striking out two and getting a pop-up to center. His fastball was down a tick… to 97. 

--- Chase d’Arnaud hit a solo shot, his second since being called up. The veteran is tied with Pablo Sandoval for the team lead in homers in July. That’s nice for d’Arnaud, not so great for this offense. The Giants have just six homers this month. 

Travis Ishikawa didn't expect Giants call-up before 2014 MLB playoffs

Travis Ishikawa didn't expect Giants call-up before 2014 MLB playoffs

Travis Ishikawa provided one of the most memorable postseason moments in Giants history, blasting a three-run walk-off homer in Game 5 of the NLCS to advance San Francisco to the 2014 World Series.

It was Ishikawa’s second stint with the organization after making his MLB debut with the Giants back in 2006. In a recent appearance on 95.7 The Game, the now-retired first baseman said he wasn’t even sure he’d get a chance to play in the majors during that 2014 season.

“At that moment, I felt like there was no possible way I was getting called up,” Ishikawa said Friday. “I was struggling, [and] at one point, I was actually benched. I was a backup for about two weeks in Fresno, wasn’t even getting starts. Being a defensive replacement for somebody else at first base.

“They’ve got other guys that kind of do what I do, they don’t need me. I mean, there’s no way I see myself getting called up.”

[RELATED: Giants extend stipends for most minor leaguers but release 20 players]

Ishikawa ended up being called up to the Giants on July 29, and the rest, as they say, is history. The Giants' Triple-A team at the time was the Fresno Grizzlies, and the organization switched over to the Sacramento River Cats in 2015.

Ishikawa ended up winning two World Series titles in San Francisco (he also was on the 2010 Giants roster), but there likely isn’t a more thrilling moment in his baseball career than that fateful night in McCovey Cove.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Giants extend stipends for most minor leaguers but release 20 players

Giants extend stipends for most minor leaguers but release 20 players

The end of the month brought a bit of good news for most Giants minor leaguers, but a potentially career-ending blow for 20 of them.

The Giants have extended their stipend program for minor leaguers through at least June 30, continuing to guarantee them $400 per week. At the same time, 20 minor league players were released Thursday, continuing a trend around the game.

The releases were not a surprise and did not involve any elite prospects. The players being let go around the game right now -- some estimates are that it could be more than 1,000 minor leaguers -- generally are players who were filling out minor league rosters and had slim chances of soon reaching the big leagues. But this is still a rough time for those players, many of whom will see their dreams end this year as the sport deals with the fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19).

With the draft shortened to five rounds and more than 40 minor league clubs already on the chopping block entering the season, big changes are expected over the next year regarding minor league baseball. Teams generally release prospects at the end of the spring and again before signing a new class of draft picks, but this year's group is larger than past ones. Baseball-America did research that showed teams release 22-25 minor leaguers through May in typical years, with 30-35 still falling in a normal range. The Giants had previously released 17 players in March.

[RELATED: Could Luciano make Giants roster? Zaidi considering it]

While there are some teams that have released significantly more prospects in recent days, others have committed to keeping all of their minor leaguers through the end of what would have been the minor league season. The Giants, by using June 30 as a date for extended pay, fall in line with most of the rest of the sport thus far, although they certainly have the resources to extend the program through August or even later at some point. 

The A's had previously informed minor leaguers that they will not pay players past May 31. When COVID-19 first shut down the sport, MLB announced stipends across the minors through that date.  

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]