Giants show slight improvement, but find another painful way to lose

Giants show slight improvement, but find another painful way to lose

NEW YORK — There aren’t many Giants who don’t have their fingerprints all over this 11-22 start. Josh Osich and Hunter Strickland, however, have mostly been immune. 

Osich spent the first month of the season in the minors, and he had pitched well since returning last Tuesday. Strickland allowed just one run in his first 13 appearances. Together, they gave up the winning run Monday. Osich opened the ninth with a late-innings sin, a walk of the lead-off batter. Four batters later, Strickland gave up a walk-off single to Neil Walker. 

The Giants had spoiled one Mets rally after another, going all the way back to the first inning. They could not survive the ninth. A 4-3 loss was their fourth in a row and clinched a losing road trip. 

“We dodged some bullets earlier,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Guys did a good job of getting out of jams, but it caught up to us.”

The Giants gave up the lead twice before giving up the game. That left them without much to take out of their first night in New York, but Bochy did point out some positives. Hunter Pence and Buster Posey, the two key middle-of-the-order bats, hit homers. Matt Moore survived a rocky first to give Bochy a five-and-dive. 

That’s where the Giants are in the second week of May. The goalposts have shifted. 

“I thought we played better,” Posey said. “We were able to score some runs off a really good pitcher. Matty Moore showed signs of improvement. Shoot … it’s tough. You’re doing everything you can to try to get a win and you come up short.”

Posey’s monster blast off Jacob deGrom made it 3-2 in the sixth, and gave Bochy the rare opportunity to turn a lead over to the familiar names in his bullpen. He turned first to George Kontos, who was tasked with holding a runner on with light-hitting Curtis Granderson at the plate. Granderson entered with a .133 average, but he smoked a double the opposite way, tying the game. Steven Okert pitched a sharp seventh. Derek Law left the bases loaded in the eighth with a double play. 

The Giants could never retake the lead, however, and it cost them. Osich walked Michael Conforto leading off the ninth, and with two outs, Wilmer Flores reached on a single off Strickland’s leg. Walker pulled a ball into the corner for the win.

“The leadoff walks, they’re dangerous,” Bochy said. 

The Giants are now 9 1/2 games out of first in the NL West, and with both Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans on this leg of the trip, the time will soon come where those standings aren’t even looked at. The players had hoped a win Monday could turn things back in the right direction. Instead, it was just another painful loss. 

MLB Power Rankings 2019: Giants, A's open in middle of the pack


MLB Power Rankings 2019: Giants, A's open in middle of the pack

The MLB standings have an odd look right now. The Mariners are 2-0. The A's are 0-2. The other 28 teams are 0-0. 

That's what happens when you have two teams open their season overseas a week in advance, but the rest of the league will catch up on Thursday.

There will be early-season surprises and disappointments, and you can count on panic in at least one big market. That's the case every year.

But before the other 28 teams officially get going, let's take a look around the majors for our first edition of the Power Rankings, with a special focus on some guys who have Giants ties:


These Giants can reach major career milestones during 2019 MLB season

These Giants can reach major career milestones during 2019 MLB season

SAN FRANCISCO -- It has been 10 years since we first saw Buster Posey take the field for the Giants at Oracle Park. That emotional moment in Bruce Bochy's office when Brandon Belt found out he made the team? That was eight years ago. Brandon Crawford is about to begin his eighth season as the everyday shortstop. 

In other words, this core has been around a long time, and that means some of these guys are moving up the franchise charts and coming up on statistical milestones. Here are some to keep an eye on in 2019: 

Buster Posey

As a full-time big leaguer, Posey has only had two seasons where he wasn't worth at least four Wins Above Replacement -- and he had season-ending surgery both times. With another four-WAR season, Posey will move well into the top 10 on the franchise list, all the way up to seventh. He's currently 12th with 41.3 career WAR, per Baseball-Reference. He has a long, long way to catch franchise leader Willie Mays (154.8)

Brandon Crawford

It's been four years since the shortstop hit 21 homers, and the Giants haven't had anyone reach 20 since.

But Crawford needs just 13 this season to become the 31st player in franchise history to hit 100 homers with the Giants. He has 14 each of the past two seasons. 

Posey vs. Crawford

These longtime friends like to take good-natured shots at each other when it comes to stats (usually when stolen bases are involved), so we should point out that Crawford (58) is just three intentional walks behind Posey (61). Crawford needs two free passes this year to pass Matt Williams and move into 10th place on the franchise list. 

The Brandons

They like to tease each other, too, so we should also point out that Belt enters the season with 199 career doubles and Crawford is at 198. Game on. 

Madison Bumgarner

With 110 career wins, Bumgarner has surpassed former teammates Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. He needs 11 this season to move from 16th to 12th on the franchise's win list. Bumgarner will need an extension to get any higher than that. 

There's a nice round number at play, too. A couple of injury-marred years have bumped Bumgarner up to a 3.03 ERA. If he gets past 200 innings as he hopes and has an ERA in the 2.70 range, he would hit free agency with a career ERA that starts with the number two. That would surely please his agent. 

Bumgarner is also eighth on the franchise list with 1,591 strikeouts and he could move all the way to fourth, just ahead of Lincecum, if he spends the whole season in San Francisco. The left-hander needs 104 strikeouts to pass Cain (currently fifth) and 114 to pass Lincecum. 

Gerardo Parra

The next time Parra throws a runner out, he'll reach 100 assists for his career. He has 47 career assists in left, 38 in right and 14 in center.

If this feels to you like a rare arm on the Giants, you'd be correct. Over the last five seasons, the Giants rank 29th in the Majors with 103 outfield assists. Parra has 45 by himself during that time. 

Evan Longoria

If he matches last season's 54 RBI, Longoria will reach 1,000 for his career. He's also 23 homers from 300. Hitting that mark would be huge for the Giants offense. 

[RELATED: Giants open 2019 in middle of pack in MLB Power Rankings]

Bruce Bochy

Finally, there's the man who already has said this will be his final season. Bochy needs 74 wins to become the 10th to reach 2,000 as a manager. 

If the Giants can shake off the last two seasons and finish with a winning record (82-80), Bochy would tie Leo Durocher for 10th all-time in wins. It would obviously be pretty cool for him if he could get sole possession of that 10th spot, and given the state of today's game, it's unlikely that any future manager would ever knock Bochy out of the top 10. 

Finally, there's a goal that seems highly improbable. If the Giants win 90 games, Bochy would walk away with an even .500 record (2,016-2,016). Although if Bochy wins 90 games with this roster, Farhan Zaidi should probably talk him out of retirement.