Giants lose season-high seventh straight as late rally falls short

Giants lose season-high seventh straight as late rally falls short


MILWAUKEE — Some of the Giants have spent the past two days talking about a team hotel that’s supposedly haunted. What’s happening on the field this past week is scarier. 

The Giants lost 4-3 to the Brewers, continuing a winless road trip. They have lost a season-high seven straight and they're a season-high seven games under .500. 

This one started slow, but the Giants twice had chances to get the tying run across in the final two innings. They failed to do so. Here's what you need to know from the second night in Milwaukee... 

— Chris Stratton gave up four total runs in his first three starts back. He matched that in five innings Saturday. Stratton allowed a solo homer to Travis Shaw in the first, two more runs in the fourth, and another solo shot by Christian Yelich in the fifth. 

— Ryder Jones got the Giants within one in the eighth, smoking the first pitch he saw from Joakim Soria into the seats in right. Jones’ second homer of the year left the yard at 112 mph. His first homer was also hit 112. Jones, who has played four games this year, has two of the seven hardest-hit balls of the year by the Giants. 

— The Giants got the tying run to third after Jones’ homer, but Jeremy Jeffress blew 95 mph past Hunter Pence to end the inning. 

— Kelby Tomlinson, a late addition to the lineup because Brandon Belt has a sore knee, was caught stealing second base in the first inning. That snapped a streak of 17 consecutive stolen bases for the Giants that was their longest in 11 years. 

— Abiatal Avelino played six innings in his big league debut. Avelino, acquired for Andrew McCutchen, struck out twice before giving way to pinch-hitter Alen Hanson. He swung through an 88 mph fastball at the letters to end his first at-bat and got rung up on an outside pitch in his second at-bat (Phil Cuzzi is going to Phil Cuzzi.)


Giants' Will Smith attracts trade interest in crowded relief pitcher market


Giants' Will Smith attracts trade interest in crowded relief pitcher market

SAN FRANCISCO — On the last night of the MLB Winter Meetings, two deals sent a shockwave through the crowds gathered at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s lobby bars. The Mets gave Jeurys Familia $30 million, and the Dodgers guaranteed $25 million to Joe Kelly. 

The wall had come crashing down in the crowded relief pitcher market, and in the Giants, suite, it was all smiles. 

The Giants have been patiently waiting for some big-name free-agent relievers to come off the board, knowing they have intriguing alternatives to offer teams looking for cheaper solutions. 

“We’ve gotten a lot of calls on guys in our bullpen,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. “Both veteran guys and even some of the younger guys.”

The majority of the calls, league sources confirmed, center around closer Will Smith.

The St. Louis Cardinals are among the teams that have checked in on Smith, one of the more attractive pieces potentially available this offseason. Smith is coming off a strong season during which he posted a 2.55 ERA, saved 14 games, struck out well over a batter per inning, and showed his pre-Tommy John velocity and command. 

Why would the Giants trade such a piece? They find themselves confronted with an old team-building adage: If you’re not going to contend, the first player you should trade is your closer.

The Giants hope to play competitive baseball down the stretch in 2019, but they also are realistic about how many holes there are on the roster, and they’re willing to trade players such as Smith or Madison Bumgarner if the team is stronger in the long run. 

[RELATED: Why Bumgarner trade now seems more likely at July deadline]

Zaidi kept his cards close for most of the four days in Las Vegas, but he was open about the fact that he’s listening on his relief pitchers. He said he tried to trade Hunter Strickland but could not find a taker, so the Giants non-tendered the right-hander, who remains a free agent. Tony Watson and Sam Dyson are other cost-efficient options, although Smith is the biggest prize.

The left-hander could fit just about any team in the majors. Smith is expected to make only about $4.1 million in his final year of arbitration and could slide in as a closer for a team in need of ninth-inning help, or a late-innings lefty for a team already possessing a solid closer. He can pitch multiple innings and proved to be durable once he returned.

The Giants, per sources, are marketing Smith as an appealing alternative to Andrew Miller and Zach Britton, two veterans who expect to cash in as free agents. Zaidi noted that for teams looking at the high end of the relief market, the "cost certainty of the trade targets may be attractive."

The Giants are looking for young outfielders and cost-controlled starting pitchers in most discussions. If nothing materializes, Zaidi believes he'll go into 2019 with a strong bullpen. Perhaps all of this will be revisited before the July 31 trade deadline. 

"That’s an area of strength for the team. If we keep this group intact, it’s one of the best groups in the National League," Zaidi said of his bullpen. "If it makes sense for us to move somebody to fill needs on the position player side or in the rotation, I think we’re still going to go into next year with a pretty good core." 

MLB rumors: Mike Fiers on Giants' free agency radar; competition high


MLB rumors: Mike Fiers on Giants' free agency radar; competition high

Mike Fiers' stay in the Bay might not be done after all.

The 33-year-old right-hander, whom the A's surprisingly non-tendered earlier this offseason, has drawn interest from the Giants, among other teams, per's Jon Morosi.

While Fiers' most recent stays were in the American League (Oakland, Detroit, Houston), he's no stranger to the National League, having started his eight-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers and pitching four-plus seasons for them. Fiers is known for giving up a lot of homers -- 141 in 898 innings -- but spacious AT&T Park could help mitigate that.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reported last month that the Giants would like to add to their rotation, and Fiers certainly makes sense at the right price. With so many teams in the mix, though, you have to wonder if the cost would rise past the Giants' comfort level.

If not, and Fiers comes on board, he could be a solid piece behind Madison Bumgarner and a mentor-like presence for young starters Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez. And with AT&T Park holding in those long fly balls that would be homers in smaller ballparks, the Giants might have a pitcher who can give them 150-plus innings with an ERA around 4, as he's mostly done the past four seasons.