Giants surprised by lack of final ruling in Hunter Strickland case

Giants surprised by lack of final ruling in Hunter Strickland case

DENVER -- Major League Baseball sent a suspension-related press release out at 2:09 p.m. local time Thursday, but it wasn't the one the Giants were waiting for. 

Jair Jurrjens, the former Brave and now a Dodgers minor leaguer, was suspended 80 games for using a banned substance, but there remains no word on the final verdict in Hunter Strickland's case. The pitcher was a little baffled Thursday as he prepared to play a third game since his Tuesday morning appeal hearing, and manager Bruce Bochy is confused, too.

"I'm trying to find out myself," he said when asked why there is such a delay. "We have not heard a word. I have nothing to tell you about why it's taking so long. We would like to know."

The delay has put the Giants in an odd spot. Bochy used Strickland twice in the Royals series, and the Giants were getting blown out both times. He was trying to save his other relievers, figuring that at the very latest, Strickland would hear the result of his appeal before the opener in Denver. Whenever MLB makes a ruling, Strickland will start serving his suspension, either for six games or a lesser amount. 

Bochy talked to Strickland on Thursday and said the reliever is available to pitch a third straight day. He needed just 22 pitches to get six outs on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The suspension dates back all the way to May 29, when Strickland threw a pitch at Bryce Harper and the two briefly fought. Suspensions and fines were announced the next day and Harper's appeal was heard before the final game of that series. He had his suspension cut from four games to three and served one game against the Giants and two against the A's. 

Two weeks later, the Giants are still waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

--- There's an official date for Madison Bumgarner's simulated game. He'll throw Sunday morning at Coors Field and then head to Arizona to continue rehabbing at the minor league facility there. If all goes well Sunday, Bumgarner and the Giants will map out a rehab start schedule that likely will take him through San Jose and Sacramento. 

Jarrett Parker (shoulder surgery) will face Bumgarner. He said he's just about ready for his own rehab assignment. 

As they head home for long stretch, Giants get a solid win over Dodgers

As they head home for long stretch, Giants get a solid win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — While dealing with multiple concussions, Brandon Belt was often forced to sit peacefully in a dark room to avoid noise and light. This latest DL stint also included some sitting in a room, but this time the focus was on visualization. 

Belt said he sat down and repeatedly told himself that he would be fine physically when he returned from an appendectomy. He needed to trust his body and his approach, and in his first at-bat back, he got validation. Belt flied out to the track in the second inning Saturday night. A day later, he cleared the wall, giving Chris Stratton insurance that would hold up in a 4-1 win over the Dodgers. 

The homer was Belt’s 12th of the season and 110th in the big leagues. It was his first without an appendix, and it came after no rehab games. 

“I knew I felt alright,” he said.”I didn’t need (rehab games). I guess there’s always a concern when you come back and try to be up to speed, but the way I felt in the cage, I figured I would be alright.”

Belt’s blast was the second of just three hits for the Giants, but they didn’t need any more than that. Nick Hundley had a two-run shot himself and Stratton battled without his best stuff, throwing six innings for a staff that needed a boost in the worst way. 

For the third time on this trip, the Giants won before taking a flight. This one is a short one and will get them back home, where they are 19-11 this season. The winning clubhouse was full of players and coaches eager to get away from hotels. 

“It’s awesome,” Belt said. “We’re through our toughest part of the schedule, I believe.”

The Giants have played 42 games on the road, the most in the majors. They’re just 16-26 away from home, and Bruce Bochy has said repeatedly that the team needs to play better on the road to have a chance at the postseason. But thats a goal the Giants can focus on in a couple of weeks. For now, they’re starting a stretch where they’ll play 20 of 26 at home. Those six road games are nearby — in Phoenix and Denver — and the three “road” games after this 26-game run are in Oakland. 

The Giants will spend just six nights away from their home beds from now until July 23. In other words, it’s go time. Despite their issues, they are just 4 1/2 games out in the National League West. This upcoming stretch will determine if they are a real contender, and could determine whether or not the front office is selling at the deadline. 

“We have a very, very good home field advantage with our fans and how well we’ve played at AT&T Park,” Hundley said. “If we’re going to win the division, we have to win at home. We know that, and we expect to win at AT&T Park and we’ll carry that confidence over to the next series.”

Belt, Hundley power Giants past Dodgers to avoid sweep in LA

Belt, Hundley power Giants past Dodgers to avoid sweep in LA


LOS ANGELES — The Giants sure know how to clinch a happy flight. 

This was a road trip that should have been better, but at the very least, the players made sure they didn’t have any depressing travel experiences. They beat Max Scherzer on getaway day in Washington D.C. and won a 16-inning game on the final day in Miami. Before flying back to San Francisco for a 10-game homestand, they toppled the Dodgers 4-1 to avoid a sweep and finish the trip at 5-5. 

After scoring two-or-fewer runs in 11 consecutive games at Dodger Stadium, the Giants got to four in the first three innings Sunday. Here’s how it all went down … 

—The Giants had just two hits in five innings against lefty Caleb Ferguson. Luckily, one was a two-run homer from Nick Hundley and the other was a two-run homer from Brandon Belt. Hundley’s homer was his eighth, giving him twice as many as Buster Posey. Belt’s homer was his team-leading 12th, and first since having his appendix removed. 

— Chris Stratton gave up plenty of loud outs, but got through it. He ended up allowing just one run on three hits in six innings. The Giants have won six of Stratton’s last seven starts. 

— Quietly, Will Smith has been outstanding. He lowered his ERA to 0.96 after striking out Cody Bellinger and Yasmani Grandal and getting Yasiel Puig to fly out to right.