Giants

Giants notes: Pence not ready; Romo aiming for Atlanta

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Giants notes: Pence not ready; Romo aiming for Atlanta

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy rarely changes a lineup once it's posted in the clubhouse, but he hoped to on Monday night. Bochy was keeping open the possibility that Hunter Pence could slide into right field after taking BP, but Pence ended up taking just a couple of swings. 

Pence was confident after having an MRI in the morning, but after a bunt and two light swings in the cage, he walked out and talked to trainer Dave Groeschner. Pence then walked back to the clubhouse. An hour earlier, Pence told reporters that the MRI showed just a very mild strain.

"I'm doing well, I'm feeling great," Pence said. "It's gotten a lot better."

Bochy, during his pre-game media session, said his guess was that Pence wouldn't play, but it was possible, and the Giants hoped to get him back Tuesday. That might be a long shot at this point, and it's hard to believe Pence is actually on the list to pinch-hit as the Giants have insisted. Pence's strain is right behind his right knee. He said he first felt it during a slide last Sunday in Phoenix and again when he beat out that grounder to the mound in San Diego.

--- Sergio Romo will throw an inning for Triple-A Sacramento tonight, and then pitch again Wednesday and Friday. After that, he goes back-to-back on Sunday and Monday. If all goes well, Romo will join the Giants in Atlanta next week and be activated.

--- Joe Panik is fine. He's just getting a day off, and Bochy wanted to keep Kelby Tomlinson in the mix. Tomlinson has been one of the hotter Giants hitters of late.

[RELATED: Giants lineup: Panik, Pence out in series opener vs Padres]

"He's playing so well and he finds a way to get on base and score runs," Bochy said. "He's really adapted to this role."

--- The Padres have shifted Matt Duffy as aggressively as you can. Matt Kemp plays over on the line in right and the center fielder shifts over toward right field, with the left fielder playing a bit over toward center. That leaves huge gaps down the left field line and right up the middle of the field, and Duffy has noticed. He would love to be in a spot right now where he could play those gaps and run for a triple or more, but he's 8-for-his-last-49.

"It's frustrating, especially with Kemp making a couple of plays on me in the corner that could have gone for extra bases," Duffy said. "I think I have good enough bat control to make the adjustment if they want to keep playing me that way. I have to adjust."

The good news: Duffy knows what's wrong with his swing, and he's working to fix the small mechanical bug. It's an interesting little race at the moment. If Duffy can get back to his old self in the next three days, there's a lot of real estate out there against this Padres alignment. They won't shift back until he proves it, though.

Four Giants have chance to hit 20 home runs for first time in years

Four Giants have chance to hit 20 home runs for first time in years

SAN FRANCISCO -- The NL's 40 Home Run Club got crowded last week, with Cody Bellinger hitting the mark first, followed by Christian Yelich and Pete Alonso, who broke the NL record for a rookie. That mark was just two years old and was set by Bellinger. 

Ronald Acuña Jr. (35) and Eugenio Suarez (34) should get to 40 soon, and six other NL sluggers are already at 30 with six weeks left in the season. It's been that kind of year, but the Giants have more modest goals. 

They haven't even had a hitter reach 20 since Brandon Crawford went deep 21 times in 2015, but this should be the year a Giant ends that powerless run. In fact, it should happen easily, and multiple players could get to 20. 

The Giants haven't had multiple guys hit 20 since 2014, when good friends Buster Posey and Hunter Pence did it, and they haven't had three get there since 2006, when Barry Bonds, Moises Alou, Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz all hit at least 20. 

Here are three with a good shot at ending the organization's drought, and one wild card:

Kevin Pillar

Currently the team leader at 17, Pillar already has set his career-high. He said last week that the lineup has to keep the same approach day in and day out and take advantage of the rewards that ballparks like Chase Field provide, but Pillar has actually done plenty of damage at home. He has 10 homers at Oracle Park, four more than any other Giant. 

Pillar is streaky, but his pull power works well at home and he plays every day. The odds are high that he becomes the first Giants outfielder since Pence in 2014 to hit 20 homers, and the next guy should join him ...

Mike Yastrzemski

The rookie has become the best story of the season, and with three homers on Friday night he got up to 16, one more than he ever hit in a minor league season. Yastrzemski's power is for real; he has 28 homers across two levels this season, has hit six out of Oracle Park, and distributes his blasts to all fields.

With two more, Yastrzemski will tie Buster Posey's mark as a rookie. The Giants haven't had a rookie hit 20 homers since Dave Kingman in 1972. Their rookie record is 31, set by Jim Ray Hart in 1964. That'll be out of reach for Yastrzemski, but he should easily get to 20. He already has 11 homers in the second half. 

Evan Longoria

The third baseman has 15, but he missed time with a foot strain and remains slightly hampered by the injury. Still, Longoria has two homers since returning and has a shot at his 10th 20-homer season in the big leagues. 

With Pablo Sandoval out, Longoria is no longer in a timeshare, although he'll want to take advantage of road trips like this one. Of Longoria's 15 homers, 12 have come away from Oracle Park, where he's hitting just .215. 

Brandon Belt

A wild card, because he only has 14 but has traditionally gone on runs where he hits four or five in a week. Belt hasn't really gotten hot this season, but he hit a pair of homers over the weekend after a talk with Bruce Bochy and a move down in the lineup.

[RELATED: Giants miss out on sweep ahead of huge series vs. Cubs]

It would take a hot streak to get him to 20, but Belt has gotten close before. He has a pair of 18-homer seasons and two with 17. 

Giants miss out on sweep ahead of huge series vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

Giants miss out on sweep ahead of huge series vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

PHOENIX -- On days like this, Giants manager Bruce Bochy often says "you like to get greedy." Madison Bumgarner nodded as those words were repeated to him Sunday afternoon.

The Giants took three of four in Phoenix, which was good work given their spot in the NL wild-card race. They moved a game ahead of the Diamondbacks, one of many teams they're battling for two spots. But it was hard not to feel a bit disappointed given that they went into the fourth game with Bumgarner on the mound and lost 6-1

"We'll leave here feeling good because we did take three of four from a team we're chasing. We keep doing that, I think we'll be okay," Bumgarner said. "But at the same time, everyone here -- especially me -- wanted to come away with a sweep."

The Giants had not lost with Bumgarner on the mound in nearly five weeks. The lefty hadn't taken a loss on his record since June 20. But the Diamondbacks scored three in the first and got four in six innings against Bumgarner.

There were two key plays in the loss, one on defense and one at the plate.

With runners on the corners and two outs in the first, Adam Jones hit a sinking liner to center that looked like a hit off the bat. But Kevin Pillar has made a habit of coming out of nowhere for a diving catch, and he got a good break on the ball, which had a hit probability of 73 percent. 

Pillar's diving effort came up about two inches short and the Diamondbacks scored a pair. Jones would score on a single. 

"He makes a lot of unbelievable catches and I want him to try to do that," Bumgarner said. "I was glad to see he tried to go for it instead of trying to play it on a bounce. I like the aggressive play. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't in this game."

The Giants had a chance to get back into the game in the sixth when Mike Yastrzemski tripled and a single and two walks loaded the bases. The Diamondbacks brought lefty Andrew Chafin in to face Brandon Crawford, who had five hits in 19 previous at-bats against Chafin.

Bochy had Evan Longoria on the bench and could have pinch-hit the righty while sliding Donovan Solano from third to short, but he stuck with Crawford, who is batting .224 on the season and came out early on a double-switch the other night. Crawford grounded out. 

"His numbers aren't bad off (Chafin). It's two outs and I'm trying to stay away from Longo," Bochy said. "Hey, he's gotten a lot of big hits for us. I'm not going to quit on him now."

The finale was rough, but the weekend was still a good one for the Giants. Their problem right now is that good may not be enough. Two of the teams they’re chasing won while the Giants were on the field. They’ll now visit the Cubs, who occupy the second wild-card spot.  

The Giants will go with Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez and Jeff Samardzija at Wrigley Field this week. They'll face Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. 

[RELATED: Bergen DFA'd; Giants to keep Webb in rotation for now]

"They're all big. We've got to win games. We're the ones who are behind," Bochy said. "It was a good series. You come in here and take three out of four, you've got to feel good about that. We lost this one but you take three out of four, you'll take that.

"We'll head to Chicago, take a day off and regroup, and it's going to be another big series."