Giants

Giants win first series of 2018 season thanks to Cueto, Longoria and Belt

Giants win first series of 2018 season thanks to Cueto, Longoria and Belt

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM -- Brandon Belt hung in for an epic 21-pitch at-bat before flying out, but later homered to lead Johnny Cueto and the San Francisco Giants over the Los Angeles Angels 4-2 on Sunday.

Belt fouled off 11 straight pitches from rookie right-hander Jaime Barria in the first inning in the majors' longest at-bat since records began in 1988. The previous high of 20 pitches in a plate appearance since 1988 was when Houston's Ricky Gutierrez struck out against Cleveland's Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, according to Retrosheet.

In all, the left-handed Belt peppered the crowd with 16 foul balls his first time up. He hit two long fouls down the right-field line before lining out to right fielder Kole Calhoun, ending an at-bat the Giants said lasted 12 minutes, 45 seconds.

It took nine pitches for Belt to work the count full, as he fouled off five pitches in the process. He swung and missed just once, and was greeted with high-fives when he returned to the dugout.

Angels pitching coach Charles Nagy made a mound visit to check on Barria (1-1) after Belt batted. Barria had thrown nine pitches to Joe Panik, who hit a leadoff single, before throwing 21 to Belt.

Belt singled and scored in the third and launched a leadoff homer to right against Blake Parker in the fifth. Belt saw a total of 38 pitches in his first three at-bats, then hit the first pitch his last two times up.

Cueto (2-0) allowed only two hits in six shutout innings against cleanup batter Shohei Ohtani and the Angels. Cueto took a no-hitter into the sixth and struck out seven.

Cueto twice fanned the lefty-hitting Ohtani by getting the Japanese two-way sensation to flail at change-ups. Cueto also struck out Mike Trout twice.

The Giants right-hander walked two, hit two batters and lowered his ERA in four starts to 0.35.

The Angels were scoreless until Trout hit a two-run homer in the eighth, his big league-leading ninth and his third in as many games. The opposite-field shot to right-center came off Cory Gearrin.

Los Angeles had runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth before Hunter Strickland got Ian Kinsler to fly out to center for his third save in five chances.

Kinsler led off the sixth with a single for the Angels' first hit. Ohtani singled with one out to load the bases, but Cueto got Luis Valbuena to ground into a 3-6-1 double play. Cueto excitedly pumped his right fist after taking the throw from shortstop Brandon Crawford.

Ohtani batted cleanup for the first time because Albert Pujols got his first day off this season. He finished 1 for 4.

Panik also had three hits apiece for the Giants, who took two of three for their first series win of the season.

Barria threw 49 pitches in the first inning. He loaded the bases on three singles with one out before retiring Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval.

Barria loaded the bases with no outs in the third before making way for Noe Ramirez. Joe Panik scored on Buster Posey's double-play ball and Evan Longoria followed with a two-run homer, his fourth.

Barria allowed two runs and six hits, struck out one and walked one. He got only six outs on 77 pitches.

OHTANI WATCH:
The 23-year-old threw a bullpen session some 90 minutes before first pitch and is scheduled to make his next start Tuesday at Houston. A blister on his right middle finger forced him out of his start after just two innings Tuesday night against Boston.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons suffered a bruised right forearm when he was hit by a pitch by Cueto in the second. He was replaced in the top of the third by Jefrey Marte.

UP NEXT:
Giants: RHP Chris Stratton (1-1, 2.22) is scheduled to start Monday night in the opener of a home three-game series with Washington, which counters with LHP Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 2.49).

Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (2-1, 3.98) looks to go 3-0 on the road this season when he opens series at Houston versus UCLA product Gerrit Cole (2-0, 0.96).

Manny Machado is a Dodger, so Giants must be better at being the Giants

rattotradeus.jpg
USATSI

Manny Machado is a Dodger, so Giants must be better at being the Giants

As Comrade Pavlovic explains here, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ reported acquisition of Manny Machado is a gaudy rental that only slightly narrows the San Francisco Giants’ path to a surprise postseason berth.
 
In short, the rich got richer, and the Giants continue to mind the tax line.
 
There is, of course, no fun in that position. The A’s aren’t selling for a change, which makes the Giants seem weirdly conservative in comparison to the noisy neighbors they never seem to notice. The Warriors, who move in down the street in a couple of years, are burning money like it’s a college football pregame bonfire, which also makes the Giants look uncharacteristically thrifty.
 
But Machado is the only real jewel in the trade deadline crown (the Mets have pitcher Jacob deGrom, but nobody expects the Mets to do anything other than standard Met-ism), and not only would he find a way to beg out of any trade to San Francisco on religious grounds (he does not worship in a power-restrictive park), the Giants already have a shortstop in which they are exceedingly proud.
 
In short, the Giants weren’t in the Machado race, and they don’t look like they will be in many others, either. This is their year of stasis, in which they will either win as they are or lose as they are.
 
Indeed, the Giants are operating outside their usual shopping norms. They would need to shave salary to acquire salary, which means there will be no 2010 Summer Of Love (Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez, Jose Guillen). And their prospect bin is running pretty low, so they can’t toss young’uns into the wind to see what veteran difference-makers they can attract.
 
Thus, the Dodgers improving their lot is of little consequence to the Giants, save that corner of the fan base that believes the Dodgers always must be monitored. The Giants need to be more concerned about what the Diamondbacks and Rockies and Phillies and Nationals and Braves and Brewers and Cardinals do, which means there probably are too many teams to keep track of down the stretch.
 
Indeed, the simplicity of the task before the Giants is clear. Their path to salvation is through a rehabilitated Evan Longoria, and a revitalized Johnny Cueto, and a transformed Jeff Samardzija, and an offense that doesn’t regard seeing its own players on base as evidence of plague. The Giants have to be better at being the Giants, and there is no guarantee of that based on the evidence of not just the past 98 games but the 230-some-odd before that.
 
But if it helps, someone will enjoy the trade deadline. It just isn’t going to be the Giants. They are, for one of the rare times since they moved from Candlestick Park, a team likely to do almost nothing of consequence this July.
 
But maybe they can get DeMarcus Cousins to throw out the first pitch at one of the Pirates games in August. I mean, if you can’t be in the market, you might as well enjoy someone who is.

How Dodgers' trade for Manny Machado affects Giants' NL West chances

bummachadous.jpg
USATSI

How Dodgers' trade for Manny Machado affects Giants' NL West chances

SAN FRANCISCO — With every move they’ve made over the last nine months, the Giants have been careful to stay under the competitive balance tax, eager to jump headfirst into this offseason’s loaded free agent class. Unfortunately, they’ll now get an up-close look at the best all-around player scheduled to be available this winter. 

After weeks of rumors, and an awkward All-Star Game, shortstop Manny Machado finally was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon. According to multiple reports, the Dodgers sent five prospects to Baltimore, a package highlighted by Yusniel Diaz, an outfielder who was the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The other four prospects are not considered top-20 guys. 

There’s no sugarcoating this. The Dodgers, despite an extremely slow start, finished the first half atop the National League West, half a game ahead of the Diamondbacks and four up on the Giants. An L.A. lineup that already has eight hitters with double-digit homers added a player with 24 homers, 65 RBI and a .963 OPS at the break. Machado was far and away the best player available at the trade deadline, and he now might give the Dodgers the best position player in the division. 

Shortstop wasn’t exactly a position of need for the Dodgers. Chris Taylor has done a nice job filling in, but he’s no Machado, and the 26-year-old provides a perfect second-half fill-in for Corey Seager, who was lost earlier this year to Tommy John surgery. 

The Dodgers beat out the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Brewers and possibly a few others for Machado’s services. After hoarding top prospects for years, L.A. made its move, adding to a team that has a sense of urgency after falling in the World Series last year. Clayton Kershaw can opt out of his deal this offseason, too, and this move certainly shows the ace that there is a commitment to winning at all costs. 

Machado has just 48 at-bats against current Giants pitchers -- nearly half of those against Derek Holland, who spent his prior seasons in the American League. The Giants will get their first look at him in about a month, when they visit the Dodgers on Aug. 13. The Dodgers come back to AT&T Park for the final series of the regular season. 

Until that first meeting, where does this leave the Giants? 

Their road to a division title just got a bit steeper, and it’s unclear how they’ll counter. General manager Bobby Evans has said he’s not under orders to stay under the CBT line, but it’s not hard to read between the lines. The Giants just shipped a decent prospect to Texas to ditch Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin’s contracts, a move that was made specifically to get further away from the tax line.

Before the Machado trade, it was hard to see the Giants going away from their plan and adding a significant piece. The same holds true today. Any countermove won’t exactly have the Dodgers shaking.

Some Giants fans might take solace in the fact that the Dodgers paid a decent price in prospects to acquire Machado. But Diaz plays a position where their organization is loaded, and the unfortunate truth is that the Dodgers’ system today still is better than most. 

The Giants still would like to bolster their lineup, with a glaring need against left-handed pitching. Another bullpen arm always is helpful, although Ray Black might fill that hole internally. If the Giants do want to add, they’ll need to find a way to dump a bit more salary, and perhaps they can get creative, as they did with the Rangers deal.

They will not however, be able to go move-for-move with the team atop the division. Machado was the best player out there, and he’s now a Dodger.