Giants notes: Ryder Jones makes most of pinch-hit opportunity

Giants notes: Ryder Jones makes most of pinch-hit opportunity

MILWAUKEE — Ryder Jones made the most of a one-day cameo in Oakland earlier this season, hitting an impressive homer to right field. He appears ready to try to do the same with a September call-up. 

On a night that looked like so many others this season, Jones gave the Giants a brief jolt by crushing a two-run shot to right-center off Joakim Soria. He got the Giants within one in the eighth, but the comeback fell short. The Giants lost 4-3 to the Brewers, dropping a seventh straight. 

Manager Bruce Bochy would like his hitters to be more aggressive. Too many, he said, are going down looking. Jones put a ride into the first pitch he saw. 

“He and [Chris] Shaw, they’ve got plus power,” Bochy said. “If they get ahold of it and it’s in the air, it’s going to go.”

Shaw hit a 468-foot homer at Coors Field. Jones is the king of exit velocity right now. Both of his home runs this season have left the yard at 112 mph, and he has two of the seven hardest-hit balls by a Giant this year despite playing just four games. 

Bochy sent both Jones and Shaw up to pinch-hit late against a good Brewers bullpen. He said he wants to learn something about his young players, and not just in starting roles. Jones is blocked at first and third, but he’s still young and plenty talented enough to grab a significant bench role next season. 

“Everybody here wants to be on the opening day roster next year,” he said. “You’re just trying to go out and do what you can and show your ability, be aggressive and help the team.”

--- Bochy had a choice to make in the eighth. With right-hander Jeremy Jeffress on the mound and the tying run in scoring position, he let Hunter Pence hit with two outs. Brandon Belt could have replaced Pence, but he was on deck to hit for Aramis Garcia. Pence struck out. 

“If you look at Hunter he’s gotten some big hits in that situation,” Bochy said. “He’s got a knack for finding a way to come through. He had a nice hit earlier in the game and is in the flow of the game. He’s a veteran that wants to be in that situation and that’s part of it.”

To be fair, when Belt did hit in the ninth, he struck out. 

--- The Giants are still looking for a pitcher with 10 wins. Chris Stratton gave up four runs in five innings, falling to 9-9. 

--- Abiatal Avelino struck out twice in his big league debut, although one was a Phil Cuzzi Special. He also showed off a weird pre-at-bat routine.

Giants Review: Steven Okert makes most of late call-up, but future still murky


Giants Review: Steven Okert makes most of late call-up, but future still murky

SAN FRANCISCO — It took a while for the Giants to find consistent left-handed relief after the end of the Javier Lopez-Jeremy Affeldt Era, but in 2018, Tony Watson and Will Smith were one of the National League’s best lefty bullpen duos. Ty Blach did a nice job once he was pulled from the rotation, too, and looks like a solid long reliever. 

But don’t forget about a fourth lefty, one who spent most of his season in Sacramento. Steven Okert was up on the taxi squad in April but didn’t get into a game. He wouldn’t return to AT&T Park until September, and when he did, he opened some eyes.

What Went Right

Okert made it back on Sept. 3 and made his 2018 debut that day, pitching a sharp scoreless inning at Coors Field. Over 10 September appearances, he would allow just one run in 7 1/3 innings, holding opponents to four hits in 27 at-bats.

The lefty struck out the side against the Brewers in his second appearance and had eight strikeouts and no walks in those 7 1/3 innings. In his final appearance, he struck out three Dodgers in two innings while allowing his lone run of the year. 

What Went Wrong

It’s a small sample, but Okert’s fastball maxed out at 93.4 mph in September, per Brooks Baseball, which was down from two previous stints, when he was often peaking at 94-95.  

The bigger concern for him is just the simple fact that the Giants didn't feel the need to have him up until September. The staff chose Josh Osich coming out of the spring and Okert had a down year in Triple-A, posting a 4.55 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. He struck out 43 in 31 2/3 Triple-A innings but also allowed opponents to bat .289. 

Contract Status

Okert used up his third minor-league option at the end of the spring. 

The Future

Okert, 27, appeared slimmed down in September, and the staff was pleased with the way he threw the ball. There wasn’t much to celebrate over the final month, but after a couple of losses, manager Bruce Bochy pointed to Okert as a positive.

Still, it’s hard to see where he fits in 2019 because the Giants have three lefties in their bullpen already and Okert cannot be optioned again. Bobby Evans always found a way to keep players like that in the organization, but a new boss might view things differently, and Okert could be thrown into a trade this offseason to find an easier path to a big-league job next spring. 

San Mateo native Tom Brady professes hatred for Dodgers, rooting for Red Sox


San Mateo native Tom Brady professes hatred for Dodgers, rooting for Red Sox

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a few reasons to root for the Red Sox in the World Series.

For one, he plays in Massachusetts, so he has a natural rooting interest in a team from Boston winning a title.

Two, he hails from San Mateo and grew up rooting for the Giants.

On the latest episode of The Kirk and Callahan Show on WEEI in Boston, Brady was asked if he hates the Dodgers.

“I do. I was a Giants fan growing up, and now I’m a Red Sox fan," Brady said. "So it couldn’t set up any better for the Red Sox to win the World Series, and I think they’re going to do it. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.”

Brady is the latest Patriot to pronounce his hatred for the Dodgers. Redwood City native Julian Edelman made it very clear over the weekend that he dislikes the Giants' bitter rival.

"I hate the Dodgers," Edelman told reporters Friday. "I hate the Dodgers. I mean, I'm a San Francisco guy."

See, you do have something in common with Tom Brady and Julian Edelman.