Instant Replay: Giants end four-game skid with win over rival Dodgers

Instant Replay: Giants end four-game skid with win over rival Dodgers


SAN FRANCISCO — There was a different buzz at AT&T Park on Monday night, which was expected. The Dodgers always bring the most energy out of the fan base and the surprise promotion of the organization’s top prospect added a little sizzle. 

For six innings, Matt Cain made sure the good vibes didn’t go to waste. By the seventh, he was dealing with his own set of problems.

Cain dominated the Dodgers but he was removed by trainer Anthony Reyes after throwing warm-up pitches in the top of the seventh. There was no immediate word on his condition. The Giants went on to win the opener of this four-game series 2-1, wrapping up a well-earned victory for their longest-tenured player. 

Cain has been looking for consistency for three years. When he was on the mound Monday, he was able to carry over the strides he made in his two previous starts. Cain sailed through six, allowing just two singles and a walk. 

He benefited from sparkling defense on the infield, and in the second, three infielders teamed up to give Cain the lead. Brandon Crawford hit a leadoff double and went to third when Christian Arroyo grounded one to the right side in his first career at-bat. Joe Panik’s deep sacrifice fly to center brought Crawford trotting home. 

Panik was in the middle of an insurance rally ion the seventh. He singled with one out, went to second on a walk, and scored on Hunter Pence’s bouncer up the middle. That run would immediately be needed. The Dodgers put runners on the corners with no outs in the eighth and got one back on a grounder. With two outs, Chris Taylor was gunned down by Buster Posey at second, with Corey Seager at the plate. He would probably like that decision back. 

Sergio Romo took the mound in the bottom of the inning. He walked Eduardo Nuñez, got Posey to fly out, gave up a single to Crawford, and struck out Arroyo to end the inning. 

Starting pitching report: Cain had a 5.13 ERA over the previous three seasons. Through four starts, he’s sitting at a staff-best 2.42. All of a sudden, his loss would be a huge one for the Giants. 

Bullpen report: Steven Okert hustled to replace Cain in the seventh. He retired Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez.

At the plate: Arroyo grounded out to second in his first three at-bats and then struck out. 

In the field: Arroyo made a slick barehanded play to rob Grandal of an infield hit in the fourth and he kept going, picking Cain — who had been hit by the liner — up off the grass. They chest-bumped.

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,399 human beings. There were no donkeys. The fans gave Romo a standing ovation after the first and Romo came out in front of the visiting dugout to tip his cap. He was wiping tears away as he returned to the dugout rail.

Up next: It was supposed to be Madison Bumgarner vs. Clayton Kershaw. Ty Blach vs. Clayton Kershaw is pretty fun, too.

Giants want pitching, but they should stay away from top arm on market


Giants want pitching, but they should stay away from top arm on market

SAN FRANCISCO — A few weeks ago, there was a rumor connecting the Giants to Patrick Corbin. It didn’t make sense for one significant reason. 

The Giants did not have a head of baseball operations at the time. In fact, they had not even interviewed Farhan Zaidi yet. But they’re a big-market team, one that has spent handsomely on pitching in the past, so you can’t blame an agent or someone connected to Corbin for trying to get another team in the mix. 

We now know that Zaidi will be making the decisions at AT&T Park. On his first day in the job, he talked about bringing meaningful baseball back to the ballpark. 

“I’ve had the good fortune of being in the playoffs the last few years,” Zaidi said. “The thing I appreciated most about that was playing meaningful baseball day in and day out and how energizing that is for the fans and the players. Playing out the string when you’re totally out of the playoff race, it takes a toll on the fans and the players and the organization. Our goal is to play meaningful baseball deep into the season, and as soon as we can.”

At AT&T Park, there’s always been one clear way to get to that point: Pitching. The Giants once again have the makings of a strong rotation, with Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez behind Madison Bumgarner, and the hope that Jeff Samardzija can return to form. Perhaps they bring Derek Holland back as a solid contributor. 

But what if they were to really go big?

Per sources, there is a lot of interest in the organization in continuing to spend on the starting staff, regardless of the fact that hitting is a bigger need. Zaidi has always been a creative thinker, and he may look at this situation and realize that doubling down on pitching is an easier way back to contention, even as everyone on the outside connects the Giants to hitters. 

Could that lead the Giants right to the top of the market, to Corbin, as previously rumored? It’s unlikely for a number of reasons, including a big one: Madison Bumgarner.

Zaidi is open to moving Bumgarner, but if the Giants instead want to extend their ace at some point, they can’t afford to have another massive deal on the books. Johnny Cueto is in the middle of a $130 million contract, Samardzija is owed $36 million more, and MLB Trade Rumors projects that Corbin will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $130 million himself. 

It’s reasonable for the Giants to always spend on pitching, knowing that’s the easiest way to be dominant given their ballpark. Cueto and Samardzija did, after all, help lead the team back to the postseason in 2016. But it's unreasonable for them to hand out another $100 million deal to a starter when Bumgarner will want the same in a year. 

Corbin is outstanding. The Giants know that better than most. He faced them six times last year — The Clayton Kershaw Schedule, you might call it — and posted a 2.27 ERA. Giants hitters helped Corbin put up the career year that will likely get him the biggest contract handed out to a starter this winter, but the Giants should avoid this mix. 

The best thing the Giants can do at this point is sit back, look for cheaper starters, and hope that Corbin ends up somewhere like New York or Philadelphia, further weakening the Diamondbacks. A division rival losing an ace would be one small step towards meaningful baseball at AT&T Park. 

MLB free agency debate: Where will Nathan Eovaldi sign this offseason?

MLB free agency debate: Where will Nathan Eovaldi sign this offseason?

Editor's note: Each day this week, Giants insider Alex Pavlovic and A's reporter Ben Ross will debate where one of the top five free agents might land this offseason. Thursday's free agent to discuss is Nathan Eovaldi, a veteran right-hander with World Series heroics but just decent regular-season numbers.

ALEX: Ben, I'm fascinated by Nathan Eovaldi. He pulled a Yusmeiro Petit, except he did it while throwing 100 mph during a World Series game.

The Madison Bumgarner comparisons -- in terms of doing whatever it takes to help your team get to that final World Series win -- are there, too. In an age of guys babying their arms, it was so impressive to see a starter go out there and just let it all hang out even though he knew he'd hit free agency just a few days later. You hope that his arm is OK, and that someone will reward him for that effort.

BEN: I don’t think any free agent earned himself more money during the playoffs than Eovaldi did. He had a decent regular season (3.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP), but his postseason was legendary. He earned $2 million in each of the last two seasons but now is looking at around $15 million per year.

I thought the A’s would have interest, but his postseason probably priced them out of contention. I have to think Boston is the front-runner to re-sign him. Where else could he land?

ALEX: I've got some thoughts, but first I want to go back to your team. Have they indicated what their price range is? I agree that Eovaldi probably is out at this point, but was he in range before the postseason? It's amazing what they did with castoffs last year, but they have to get a couple more dependable arms in that rotation at some point.

BEN: Agreed. Even Billy Beane acknowledged that last month. The A’s haven’t indicated a specific price range, but it's not their MO to spend big money on free agents, especially when a lot of their current roster will be getting pay raises next year. To me, Eovaldi would’ve been a realistic target at around $8 million per year, but he's not at $15 million.

ALEX: He could be a fit for the Giants, and he's certainly the type that Farhan Zaidi might have targeted in Los Angeles. But I think others will be more aggressive after Eovaldi's postseason. MLB Trade Rumors listed half the league, practically, as potential fits: Red Sox, Astros, Yankees, Rangers, Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Dodgers, Angels, Giants.

BEN: He has certainly become a hot commodity. I think the Yankees and Astros make a lot of sense, as do the Giants. But ultimately, I think he'll stay in Boston. The Red Sox know how valuable he was to their World Series. What’s your pick?

ALEX: I'm going off the board a bit, to a team that really needs some frontline starting pitching. The Angels -- for four years and $64 million -- are my pick for one of the stars of the postseason.

BEN: Interesting. The Angels definitely make sense with their lack of starting pitching. But I’ll say Eovaldi gets four years, $60 million from the Red Sox.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Thursday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.
Will the Phillies be in the Eovaldi mix?
How Eovaldi set himself up for big payday
How does Eovaldi fit the White Sox?