Giants waste Holland's spot-start gem: 'I was trying to do everything I could to stay out there'

Giants waste Holland's spot-start gem: 'I was trying to do everything I could to stay out there'

SAN FRANCISCO — Derek Holland’s spot start couldn’t have been sharper. Holland, starting in order to give Johnny Cueto an extra day of rest, allowed just five hits and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings. The lone run on his line came on an error after he had given way to Sam Dyson.

It was a good night. Imagine how much better it could have been if Holland could have faced his own lineup.

With Evan Longoria on the disabled list and Buster Posey battling a hip injury, the Giants have struggled mightily against left-handed starters. They entered the night having lost 10 of their last 15 against southpaws, and for the season they had a .237 average and .685 OPS. Tuesday didn’t improve the stats any.

The lineup managed just three hits off José Quintana and didn’t touch the Chicago bullpen, falling 2-0.

“We had some right-handed bats in there. We’ve got to fix it, though,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Lefties have done a pretty good job on us. Their guy pitched well, but at the same time this has been going on for a while against left-handed pitching.”

Bochy said he would get with his staff and try to find an overnight solution, with the Giants set to face another lefty, Mike Montgomery, on Wednesday. He tried to mix it up against Quintana, giving Chase d’Arnaud his first start and hoping Hunter Pence’s Monday momentum carried over. Nick Hundley hit cleanup. It didn’t work.

That left Holland with a loss that even Matt Cain would view as brutal. He has been a good soldier, giving the Giants solid work out of the bullpen the past week. With the relievers still a bit gassed, Bochy needed length. Holland took a shutout into the seventh.

“As I was brought up, you want to be the starter and the closer at the same time,” Holland said. “I was trying to do everything I could to stay out there.”

For now, it’s back to the bullpen, although Holland looks more than worthy of further spot starts in the second half. The Giants have solved their starting depth problems. Now they need to fix some other issues.

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


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.