Instant Replay: Giants snap skid behind Cueto, power bats

Instant Replay: Giants snap skid behind Cueto, power bats


SAN DIEGO — Thanks to Johnny Cueto and a power-packed day from the heart of the lineup, the Giants avoided the sweep. 

Cueto went seven strong and the Giants hit two early homers, beating the Padres 5-3. They lost season-opening series in Phoenix and San Diego, but won both of Cueto’s starts, finishing 2-5 on the trip. Mark Melancon closed the week with his first save as a Giant. 

Facing left-hander Clayton Richard, the right-handers in the lineup tried to take the tension out of the game early on. Chris Marrero’s first hit as a Giant drove Buster Posey in and an error on the play made it 2-0. Hunter Pence hit a two-run blast to left in the third inning and Posey made it back-to-back jacks when he went the opposite way. 

Cueto worked around two singles in the first and then retired 14 of 15. The streak ended with a walk of Travis Jankowski in the sixth and Will Myers took advantage of an elevated fastball, crushing a two-run shot off the Western Metal Supply Co. building. A bizarre infield single, walk and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases as Cory Gearrin warmed up in the bullpen. But Cueto got Erick Aybar to pop up to third, ending the threat. 

Cueto threw 109 pitches, and the Padres immediately inched closer once he got the handshake from Bruce Bochy. Yangervis Solarte greeted Derek Law in the eighth with a solo homer and Ryan Schimpf drew a walk, but Law got out of the inning without further damage. 

Melancon was going to pitch no matter the score Sunday, as he had been off since Opening Day. He put two runners on, but Myers bounced into a game-ending double play. 

Starting pitching report: Cueto muscled through some late trouble, finishing with just two runs allowed in seven innings. He struck out seven, walked three, and hit one. 

Bullpen report: Moves on the field often tell you more than answers off of it. Cueto hit for himself to lead off the seventh, even though he had thrown 95 pitches and had his roughest inning in the sixth. Tells you a lot about the trust in the bullpen’s ability to hold leads. 

At the plate: Marrero’s single to right was the first hit of the season by a Giants left fielder. The trio — Marrero, Jarrett Parker, a little bit of Aaron Hill — had started 0-for-22. 

In the field: Nothing all that noteworthy happened either way. 

Attendance: The Padres packed the house again. That was the biggest surprise of the road trip. 

Up next: Matt Moore pitched the last home game of 2016. He gets the home opener, against Taijuan Walker and the Diamondbacks. 

Giants reliever, coach put calmer spin on pregame handshake

Giants reliever, coach put calmer spin on pregame handshake

We've all seen the pregame handshakes that are meant to fire up players. JaVale McGee was the designated handshake guy for the Warriors the last two years. He had custom handshakes with all the starters, including Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

Handshakes are supposed to have energy.

Someone clearly forgot to tell Giants reliever Sam Dyson and first base coach Jose Alguacil.

On Wednesday in San Diego, the pair were caught on camera engaging in a strange ritual in the dugout. As you can see in the video above, Dyson starts by wiping away any sweat on the bald dome of Alguacil with a towel. Then he gently places a batting helmet on Alguacil's now-dry head and dabs at it with the towel. After infielder Chase d'Arnaud sneaks in for a handshake with Alguacil, Dyson and Alguacil shake for a solid five seconds before placing a hand on each other's chest.

Hey, whatever it takes to get fired up for Game No. 153.

Giants' Brandon Crawford confident knee issue won't linger

Giants' Brandon Crawford confident knee issue won't linger

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have lost their starting catcher, first baseman and center fielder for the year due to injuries that have required or will require surgery. Two of their top three starting pitchers coming into the season are on the 60-day disabled list, along with their top bench bat. 

The injury updates this season have ranged from bad to catastrophic, but when it comes to the starting shortstop, the recent developments have been positive. After sitting out five games in eight days because of left knee discomfort, Brandon Crawford believes he has turned a corner. He’s confident that this is not something that will plague him long-term or next season, comparing it to right shoulder soreness that popped up four years ago but has been managed with proactive rehab. 

“Cartilage doesn’t grow back, but as long as I stay on top of it like the shoulder stuff, it shouldn’t be an issue,” Crawford said of his knee. 

The pain Crawford has been dealing with throughout the second half is under the kneecap, but the training staff has found some traction strengthening his quad muscle and doing other rehab work that loosens the IT band. The work Crawford has been doing is similar to what you would do during a DL stint, but Crawford never felt he could take that much time, even as his numbers cratered after an All-Star first half. 

“I probably should have spoken up about how much it bothered me, but I wanted to be out there every day,” he said. “We were trying to make the playoffs.”

Now, the Giants are simply trying to keep others out of the playoffs. Manager Bruce Bochy gave Crawford a night off Tuesday, but expects him in the lineup for all three games against the contending Cardinals this weekend. You can bet that a Bay Area native who grew up learning how to dislike the Dodgers will be in the lineup all three games next weekend, too. 

Crawford wants more than to just be in the lineup, of course. He was the hottest hitter in the National League for a long stretch in the first half and was batting .338 at his peak. The knee injury has kept him from utilizing his normal approach and sitting on his back knee. He was drifting with his swing, but in recent games the results have been better. Crawford had three hits Wednesday and has four multi-hit games in his last nine starts.  

Crawford’s numbers won’t end up anywhere near where they might have had he stayed healthy. Asked Wednesday if the knowledge he now has about his knee makes that easier or more difficult to swallow, he paused. 

“I guess in a way I’m glad there’s a reason for it and it’s not just that I forgot how to hit,” he said, smiling. “It’s something that I didn’t realize was affecting me this much until it was too late.”