With a hip screaming for cortisone, Posey delivers walk-off hit: 'He's just a whole different animal'

With a hip screaming for cortisone, Posey delivers walk-off hit: 'He's just a whole different animal'

SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey has known for weeks, possibly months, that he would need a cortisone shot in his inflamed hip following the final game of the first half. After making his sixth All-Star team Sunday, he admitted that he needed rest and rehab more than a night with the game’s biggest stars.

Posey caught 11 innings in Monday’s win and then helped six Giants pitchers maneuver their way through the first 10 innings of a Wednesday marathon with the Cubs. 

He could be forgiven, then, for mental or physical fatigue. Instead, Posey raised his game a notch in extra innings. A single off the wall in the 13th clinched a 5-4 win for the Giants, but it was something Posey did an hour earlier that so impressed a rookie teammate who knows a thing or two about catching.

When Dereck Rodriguez entered in the 11th for an emergency relief appearance, he tried to keep it business as usual. Posey had other ideas. The veteran catcher started changing Rodriguez’s usual pitch sequencing. After hours of grueling baseball, Posey kept finding new ways for Rodriguez to attack hitters. In one spot, against pinch-hitter Willson Contreras, an All-Star, Posey called for an outside changeup, a pitch Rodriguez never features. Contreras struck out. 

“Those were pitches I hadn’t thrown all year,” Rodriguez said.

After working with Rodriguez to get through the 11th, 12th and 13th, Posey slammed a 97 MPH fastball from a right-hander making his debut off the bricks. The walk-off was the eighth of the season for the Giants and gave them a needed series win over the Cubs. 

"He's just a whole different animal," Rodriguez said. "Buster is a future Hall of Famer. What do you expect?"

The win came after plenty of frustrating moments — the lineup left 15 on base — but validated a lot of good work. Johnny Cueto showed improvement. Chase d’Arnaud hit a lead-off homer as the lineup finally got to a lefty starter. The bullpen was dominant, capped by Rodriguez, who threw three shutout frames to put an exclamation point on his breakout first half. 

The right-hander’s lengthy day means Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Suárez will face the A’s this weekend. Posey should catch at least two of the games, and then when it’s over, a needle will be put in his hip. 
It’s been a countdown to cortisone, but Posey said that hasn’t felt particularly weird about the situation. He has a job to do, no matter how long it might take on any given day. 

“It’s something I’ve been dealing with throughout the year,” Posey said. “It’s not anything new.”

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.