Giants

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' fourth straight win

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' fourth straight win

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SAN FRANCISCO — It turns out the pole-vaulting bump works on the road, too. 

The Giants hammered the Pirates 13-5 on the first night of a road trip, winning their fourth straight game. Johnny Cueto was far from his best stuff-wise or command-wise, but he battled and the lineup backed him all night with a season-high 18 hits. 

The four-game win streak is just the second of the season, but here, we’re all about fives. So here are five things to know from a game that was not pace-of-play friendly … 

—- With two in scoring position and one out in the fifth, Bruce Bochy visited the mound. The manager still cares about pitcher wins and he let Cueto try to get through five. Cueto rewarded the faith. He got a grounder to third and then got Chris Stewart to bounce out to second on his 114th pitch. The 36-pitch inning ended Cueto’s night. He looked up at the sky and gave thanks as he walked off the field. Later, the win became official.

—- Denard Span entered the night with a .353 batting average in June and Gerrit Cole and the bullpen couldn’t slow him down. Span had four hits, including a leadoff homer in the first, raising his average to .298. He also drew a walk. Span finished with 40 hits in June. 

—- Hunter Pence drove in five runs for the first time since a seven-RBI game in Los Angeles in late 2013. The five-RBI night was the seventh of Pence’s career. 

—- Ryder Jones singled up the middle in the seventh to pick up his first MLB hit and snap an 0 for 17. He couldn’t hide his smile. Jones scored on Pence’s single three batters later. Jones later lined out to first … the bad luck didn’t completely turn in one night. 

—- Dan Slania made his big league debut in the bottom of the ninth and had a perfect frame. He'll now battle Jones for the lineup card. 

For second straight year, an altercation proves costly for Giants

hundley.jpg
AP

For second straight year, an altercation proves costly for Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Your view of which side was the blame Tuesday night depends almost entirely on which side of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry you grew up on. That much was made clear over the past three days, both in the aftermath of the mini-brawl and when the punishments were handed down Thursday afternoon. 

At this point, it doesn’t really matter how much blame to place with either party. The only thing that matters for the Giants is that for the second consecutive year, they found themselves mixed up in a silly skirmish that cost them a player. This time around, the price is steeper for the team, both because of the player involved and the circumstances of the season. 

A year ago, Michael Morse’s career ended with a concussion suffered when Jeff Samardzija crashed into him seconds after Hunter Strickland threw at Bryce Harper. Morse was put on the DL and soon found himself retired, but with a .194 average on a terrible team, he wasn’t going to stick around much longer anyway. Morse admitted to USA Today earlier this year that he looks back on that stretch as “playing with house money.”

This season’s injury will have a far greater impact, even though the hamstring strain Dereck Rodriguez suffered was announced as just a Grade 1. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Giants, who are on the fringes of the playoff race, sure, but are far from the 98-loss pace they were on when Morse went down last season. They still have hopes of making a run. 

The staff got together in Los Angeles and went away from Bruce Bochy’s tradition, using the off day to skip the fifth starter spot. That had Rodriguez lined up to face the Reds on Friday night, with the hope that the club could build off the momentum from the Dodgers series. He was going to face the lowly Mets next week, too. Those were two very good opportunities for road wins. 

Instead, it’ll be Casey Kelly on Friday and the Giants will piece it together from there. The rotation is weakened with the loss of a dominant rookie who was soaking up innings like an ace, and the repercussions will surely be felt in the bullpen at some point on this important road trip.

The Giants have no margin for error this season, and they already have found themselves reeling from things like Madison Bumgarner getting hit by a liner, Brandon Belt’s appendix acting up, Evan Longoria getting drilled by a pitch, Joe Panik spraining his thumb on a tag, and Mac Williamson suffering a concussion when he ran over a bullpen mound. 

There was blame to be placed Tuesday, but this is also another bad break. Rodriguez was the first from the dugout to reach the scrum, doing what players do dozens of times a year without injury, and appeared fine as he hopped around the outside of the altercation. Two days later, the Giants admitted their latest beef with Yasiel Puig had come at a costly price.

The Giants will hope Rodriguez can return on the next homestand, but this is a blow to his Rookie of the Year campaign and a big shot to a roster that now has just three healthy starters and really could have used two more Rodriguez starts over the next week. Chris Stratton is an option to return and Ty Blach is available for spot-start duty. Tyler Beede is on the minor league DL, so you can cross him off. Perhaps Shaun Anderson is thrown into a playoff push. Management surely spent the flight to Cincinnati trying to figure all that out instead of enjoying a successful and dramatic series at Dodger Stadium that was highlighted by Tuesday's shoving match. 

An hour after the shoving had ended, Nick Hundley said he hoped the incident would bring the team closer together. 

“This is a tight-knit group,” he said. “We’ll feed off that. What a great win.”

The next night, the Giants lost in extra innings. They now have lost at least two starts from a player who was the best part of a season forever stuck around the .500 mark. It doesn’t really matter who is to blame at this point. The simple truth is that the Giants have been involved in several of these incidents the last five years, and they finally paid a steep on-field price. 

Giants put Dereck Rodriguez on DL with injury from brawl with Dodgers

Giants put Dereck Rodriguez on DL with injury from brawl with Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tuesday's brief scuffle at Dodger Stadium ended up being much more costly for the Giants than for the Dodgers.

A few hours after Yasiel Puig was suspended two games by Major League Baseball, the Giants announced that rookie right-hander Dereck Rodriguez was placed on the disabled list after being hurt during the altercation between the Dodgers outfielder and San Francisco catcher Nick Hundley. 

Rodriguez went on the 10-day DL on Thursday with a Grade 1 hamstring strain. He was one of the first players on the scene when Puig and Hundley exchanged shoves Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Rodriguez came from the dugout and apparently got hurt somewhere during the exchange. 

The blow is a big one to a Giants team that's on the fringes of the National League playoff race. Rodriguez, a rookie, has been the club's best pitcher, posting a 6-1 record and 2.25 ERA to this point. He has allowed just six runs in five second-half starts, throwing his name into the NL Rookie of the Year race. 

The Giants skipped their fifth starter so Rodriguez and Madison Bumgarner could kick off the three-game series in Cincinnati. Instead, Casey Kelly will start Friday's opener against the Reds. The Giants will announce a corresponding roster move Friday.