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 Review: Chris Shaw showed potential, needs more time at Triple-A

Giants Review: Chris Shaw showed potential, needs more time at Triple-A

SAN FRANCISCO — Every August, Bobby Evans would make the drive to Sacramento to meet face to face with members of the Triple-A squad. He would either give them the good news that they were joining the big league club in September, or the bad news that their season would end with the River Cats’ final out. 

Chris Shaw was told he was somewhere in the middle. 

The Giants were not planning to call Shaw up in September, but when Evans, since fired, visited his Triple-A players, he was in the process of trading Andrew McCutchen to the Yankees. A few hours after that deal was announced, Shaw was on his way to San Francisco. 

The month surely did not go the way Shaw hoped, but he got his first taste of the big leagues, playing in 22 games before heading back to Boston for the winter. Here are the highs and lows of the first month in The Show for a 24-year-old prospect. 

What Went Right

Shaw had just one homer after getting called up, but man, did he make it count. On Sept. 3, Shaw blasted a pinch-hit, go-ahead homer at Coors Field, picking up his first career hit in the process. He became the first Giant since Damon Minor, his Triple-A hitting coach, to get his first career hit on a pinch-hit homer. The bomb had an exit velocity of 108 mph and went 468 feet, giving Shaw the longest homer of the year by a Giant and their longest since a Brandon Belt blast at Coors Field in 2015. 

Shaw got off to a brutal start, striking out 13 times in his first 22 at-bats and picking up just that one homer. But he worked on swing adjustments and found traction, batting .281 over his final 11 appearances with a pair of doubles. He struck out 10 times over that stretch, but balanced that with five walks. For a minute there, Shaw was the everyday left fielder, and he generally handled himself fine on defense. That shouldn’t be a concern going forward. 
Before he got called up, Shaw posted his second consecutive 24-homer season in the minors.

What Went Wrong 

Shaw had to spend much of his time in the big leagues answering questions about the strikeouts, and they remain a legitimate concern. You can strike out a lot in the modern game, but the Giants still want to see Shaw cut them down, and he has tried to make that an emphasis. Shaw whiffed 144 times in 394 at-bats in Triple-A and drew just 21 walks. At the big league level, Shaw struck out in 37.1 percent of his plate appearances, which would have been worst in the majors over a full season (Chris Davis led MLB at 36.8). 

Overall, Shaw hit .185/.274/.278 in his cameo, and while the one homer was impressive, the Giants were hoping to see him run into a few more. On the other side of the ball, Shaw looked fine in left field, but the staff has concerns about his arm, and teams would surely run on him if he were made the everyday left fielder. 

Contract Status

Shaw is as fresh as it gets. He earned a prorated portion of the MLB minimum — $545,000 — in September. He has all three options remaining. 

The Future

At the end of the season, Brian Sabean described Shaw’s stint as “baptism under fire.” Bruce Bochy said the 24-year-old was rushed, and while the manager went out of his way to compare Shaw to other power hitters who needed a while to develop, he added, “he needs more reps.”

Unless the Giants go into full rebuild mode, it’s hard to see a scenario where Shaw starts the 2019 season in the big leagues. Team officials have made it clear they believe he needs to continue making adjustments and playing every day in the minors, but there is some good news for Shaw. This is a lineup that desperately needs power, and Shaw is pretty much the only option at the upper levels of the minors.

He’s now on the 40-man roster, so he should get another shot at some point early next season to show that he can bring a different dimension to a light-hitting lineup.

Giants Review: Gregor Blanco's future with team would be as a coach


Giants Review: Gregor Blanco's future with team would be as a coach

SAN FRANCISCO — Gregor Blanco had a fascinating Giants career. Only once did he start more than 100 regular season games, mostly serving as a fourth outfielder. And yet, in 2012 and 2014, Blanco was on the field at the start of every postseason game. 

The Melky Cabrera suspension made Blanco the starter in left field in 2012. Two years later, an injury to Angel Pagan put Blanco in the lineup in center field. He will be invited to World Series reunions for decades to come, and when he shows up, he can do so knowing he was a big contributor to two title teams. 

Blanco’s final Even Year with the Giants ended in a far different way. He probably did not get the send-off he deserved, with the final week dominated by the firing of a general manager and the celebration of fellow outfielder Hunter Pence. Here, we’ll look back at the highs and lows of Blanco’s 2018 season ... 

What Went Right

Coming off of a quiet season in Arizona, Blanco was still looking for an opportunity as spring training approached. So consider it a huge positive that he — for the second time — made the Giants opening day roster as a non-roster invitee. On top of that, he made it back at the end of August for one last run at AT&T Park, and he had a smile on his face the entire time. 

Blanco’s single off Jordan Hicks on Sept. 21 came on a 102.4 mph sinker. In the Statcast era, that’s the fastest pitch a Giant has turned into a base hit. 

What Went Wrong

Blanco had a .242/.289/.350 slash line going when he was designated for assignment on June 2. He cleared waivers and spent most of the next three months in Triple-A. For the season, Blanco hit .217/.262/.317.

If he was hoping September would boost his 2019 job chances, he came up short. Blanco posted a .453 OPS in his final month with the Giants. Blanco has three consecutive seasons with an OPS+ under 80, and he’s probably past the point where his glove and speed will allow that offensive production to stay on a roster. 

Contract Status

Blanco was on a one-year, $1 million deal signed in late January. He will again head into free agency. 

The Future

Blanco turns 35 this offseason and just spent most of his season in Triple-A. He has expressed a desire to continue playing, but also knows 2018 might have been his last shot. It would not be a surprise to see Blanco at Scottsdale Stadium next spring, but he won’t be there as a player. 

Blanco has talked about getting into coaching and manager Bruce Bochy gave a long, passionate answer when asked about the possibility late in the year. Bochy noted that Blanco is passionate, positive, knows many different parts of the game, and has already helped others — most notably Brandon Crawford — make swing adjustments. “He would make an outstanding coach,” Bochy said. 

The Giants keep their popular players involved in the organization. Blanco would certainly be welcomed as a spring instructor if he cannot find a playing job, with the possibility for more responsibility down the road.