Giants

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first sweep of 2017

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Some veteran Giants quietly grumbled Wednesday morning about how many potential homers got knocked down by the thick, seagull-filled air late Tuesday night. A day later, under a bright blue sky, the Giants made the park look small. 

Nick Hundley hit a two-run shot and Jae-gyun Hwang’s first MLB hit was a no-doubter to left, backing up a strong day for the pitching staff. The Giants won 5-3, sweeping the same Rockies squad that broomed them at Coors just a few days ago. 

The three-game winning streak is their first in nearly six weeks and the sweep is the first of the year. Here are five things to know from Jae Day at AT&T Park … 

—- Hwang’s homer screamed out to left at 108 mph and traveled an estimated 417 feet. He hit 53 homers his last two seasons in the KBO. The power is legit, and that poke certainly earned him an extended look, even with Eduardo Nuñez due back Friday or Saturday. Hwang is the 17th Giant to have his first hit be a homer. Adam Duvall (2014) was the last one to do it. Among current Giants, Hwang joins Brandon Crawford (2011).

—- Ty Blach faced some trouble early but managed to walk off with 6 1/3 innings under his belt and just one earned run. Blach was charged with two unearned runs, including one that came on his two-base throwing error. 

—- A day after Cory Gearrin got an at-bat, George Kontos was sent up with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. He fouled one pitch off before striking out. So many fans gave up on this season over the past six weeks, and then Gearrin and Kontos strolled to the plate in a span of 15 hours. This is the best game in the world. 

—- With Mark Melancon the DL and Sam Dyson in need of a day off, Bruce Bochy got creative. George Kontos carried the lead from the seventh to eighth, and Steven Okert took it from there until the ninth. Hunter Strickland entered with two outs in the ninth and got Ian Desmond to fly out. 

—- Austin Slater returned to the lineup and went 1 for 3 with an 11-pitch walk. It’s clear that Slater’s hip is still a little tight — he jogged on a grounder deep to the hole at short, and he certainly would have beaten that out a week ago. With the way Slater is hitting, though, no point in risking it. 

Giants cut Kelby Tomlinson, four more from 40-man roster before MLB offseason

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Giants cut Kelby Tomlinson, four more from 40-man roster before MLB offseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- With five players set to come off the 60-day DL, the Giants on Monday parted ways with some familiar names. Five players were outrighted off the 40-man roster, clearing the way for the Giants to add Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Julian Fernandez back to the 40-man roster, as they had to before the start of the offseason. 

Infielder Chase d'Arnaud and right-hander Casey Kelly were outrighted and elected to become free agents. Infielders Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez became minor-league free agents. Tyler Herb was outrighted to Triple-A and remains with the organization. 

Tomlinson saw the most time of the group, playing 273 games for the Giants over the past four seasons. But he hit .207 in 2018 and was passed on the depth chart by Alen Hanson and Abiatal Avelino. 

Kelly and d'Arnaud contributed in the second half, but neither would have been in the Opening Day plans next season. D'Arnaud was eligible for arbitration and the Giants did not plan to bring him back at a higher price. Gomez was once viewed as a promising switch-hitting prospect, but his bat has not developed as hoped and the Giants do not believe he has a defensive position. 

The Giants will have to make further 40-man cuts over the next six weeks as they protect players from the Rule 5 draft and potentially add free agents. 

Giants Review: Steven Okert makes most of late call-up, but future still murky

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Giants Review: Steven Okert makes most of late call-up, but future still murky

SAN FRANCISCO — It took a while for the Giants to find consistent left-handed relief after the end of the Javier Lopez-Jeremy Affeldt Era, but in 2018, Tony Watson and Will Smith were one of the National League’s best lefty bullpen duos. Ty Blach did a nice job once he was pulled from the rotation, too, and looks like a solid long reliever. 

But don’t forget about a fourth lefty, one who spent most of his season in Sacramento. Steven Okert was up on the taxi squad in April but didn’t get into a game. He wouldn’t return to AT&T Park until September, and when he did, he opened some eyes.

What Went Right

Okert made it back on Sept. 3 and made his 2018 debut that day, pitching a sharp scoreless inning at Coors Field. Over 10 September appearances, he would allow just one run in 7 1/3 innings, holding opponents to four hits in 27 at-bats.

The lefty struck out the side against the Brewers in his second appearance and had eight strikeouts and no walks in those 7 1/3 innings. In his final appearance, he struck out three Dodgers in two innings while allowing his lone run of the year. 

What Went Wrong

It’s a small sample, but Okert’s fastball maxed out at 93.4 mph in September, per Brooks Baseball, which was down from two previous stints, when he was often peaking at 94-95.  

The bigger concern for him is just the simple fact that the Giants didn't feel the need to have him up until September. The staff chose Josh Osich coming out of the spring and Okert had a down year in Triple-A, posting a 4.55 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. He struck out 43 in 31 2/3 Triple-A innings but also allowed opponents to bat .289. 

Contract Status

Okert used up his third minor-league option at the end of the spring. 

The Future

Okert, 27, appeared slimmed down in September, and the staff was pleased with the way he threw the ball. There wasn’t much to celebrate over the final month, but after a couple of losses, manager Bruce Bochy pointed to Okert as a positive.

Still, it’s hard to see where he fits in 2019 because the Giants have three lefties in their bullpen already and Okert cannot be optioned again. Bobby Evans always found a way to keep players like that in the organization, but a new boss might view things differently, and Okert could be thrown into a trade this offseason to find an easier path to a big-league job next spring.