Giants

Giants rotation up in the air for Bay Bridge series

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USATSI

Giants rotation up in the air for Bay Bridge series

SAN FRANCISCO -- As they prepare for what should be the most important Bay Bridge Series in years, the Giants are currently lined up to go with TBD, TBD, TBD. Well, kind of. 

Madison Bumgarner will start either Friday or Saturday at AT&T Park. After that, it's to be determined by usage the next two days. With the break coming up and plenty of starting depth, the staff has Dereck Rodriguez, Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Suarez available out of the bullpen before the weekend. 

"The next day or two, we could use anybody as far as a starter," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's all hands on deck because we've got some guys that need a break in the bullpen."

Bochy wouldn't commit to anyone besides Bumgarner making a start this weekend, although Suarez seems lined up for the final first-half game. The Giants could have optioned the rookie back to Triple-A after Monday's game and brought him up in a few days for his first second half assignment, but Suarez is throwing as well as anyone and is in the mix to make a second start this week despite the staff watching his innings. 

All of this came about after Bochy let slip Monday night that Johnny Cueto would not start Tuesday's game. That apparently has been the plan all along, with Cueto getting an extra day of rest, but the Giants did not reveal it until a few hours before the second game with the Cubs. Derek Holland will make a spot start and Bochy said that could be something that happens often in the second half, with Cueto potentially getting an extra day of rest between many of his starts as he tries to overcome an elbow sprain. 

--- Joe Panik is expected to miss about three weeks with his groin strain, team officials said. Alen Hanson will get most of the time at second base, although Hanson was off Tuesday because the Giants were facing a lefty and he has struggled against left-handed pitchers this season. 

--- Hunter Strickland had the pins removed from his fractured finger in the morning and now can ramp up strengthening exercises. Strickland is not eligible to return until August 18 because the Giants placed him on the 60-day disabled list. He likely will be ready about a week before that but will get extra time in the minors. 

--- Evan Longoria has graduated to taking grounders. He is expected back the first week of August. 

--- Renel Brooks-Moon will be the emcee for the mayor's inauguration on Wednesday, so our very own Tim Flannery will serve as the PA announcer for the final game of this series with the Cubs. 

After two straight losses, Giants looking to regroup during All-Star break

After two straight losses, Giants looking to regroup during All-Star break

SAN FRANCISCO — The clubhouse cleared out quickly after Sunday’s games. Players are always in a rush to get to flights home after the final game of the first half, but you have a bit more urgency in your step when you’re trying to leave a couple losses behind.

There is one member of the clubhouse, though, who will not soon forget the way the Giants lost 6-2 to the A’s in their first-half finale. Bruce Bochy watched a lineup that looked tired and incapable of backing a suddenly sturdy staff. Afterward, he promised to spend the next four days pondering some solutions.

“That’s what I’m going to sit on here the next four days — if they need more breaks,” Bochy said. “We’ll think of things to keep them fresher and sharper.”

The team that faced Sean Manaea on Sunday looked very much in need of a break. The Giants had five scattered hits and a performance that would have looked right at home in last season’s first half. Bochy said he saw some tired bats, and the numbers this month look all too familiar, in the wrong way. The Giants have just six homers in July, the least in the Majors, after showing increased power early in the season.

Two have come from Chase d’Arnaud and Pablo Sandoval, fill-ins for Evan Longoria. Alen Hanson and Gorkys Hernandez have the others. That’s not exactly how they drew this up. Bochy cut off a question about the backups having all the power this month.

“Oh I’m well aware of that,” he said, laughing.

Andrew McCutchen doesn’t have an extra-base hit this month, continuing a frustrating first season in San Francisco. Brandon Belt has three doubles but nothing more in July. Buster Posey also has three doubles and Brandon Crawford has a pair. Bochy is pleased with the additions of guys like d’Arnaud, Hanson and Steven Duggar, Sandoval’s improvements and Hernandez’s breakouts, but he knows he needs his big guns down the stretch.

“That’s what we’re missing as much as anything is power,” he said. “Not just homers — we’re not driving the ball like I think we can.”

The staff is hopeful that four days off will help. It’s not like the Giants have a tough travel schedule in front of them. They’ll regroup on Thursday in Oakland for a workout and then play three more in the East Bay, where most of this roster lives. After that it’s a day off and two in Seattle, and then it’s back home.

Bochy revealed that Dereck Rodriguez will get the opener in Oakland, followed by Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Andrew Suarez. Jeff Samardzija, placed on the DL on Sunday, is a possibility for the fifth spot, although Derek Holland seems far more likely.

Rodriguez got the nod in part to break up the lefties and righties, but also as a reward for the good work he has done. He has been a revelation, helping the Giants stay above water. Even after losing two straight to the A’s, the Giants finished the first half at 50-48 and just four games behind the Dodgers in the National League West.

A year ago at the break, this club was 34-56 and 27 games out of first place.

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

BOX SCORE

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.