In loss to Phillies, Giants continue to pile up the strikeouts

In loss to Phillies, Giants continue to pile up the strikeouts

PHILADELPHIA — Bruce Bochy spent all offseason and spring saying the Giants would hit more homers this season, and he was right. The new-look lineup has come with a nasty side effect, though. 

The Giants’ strikeout rate was up nearly five percent from a year ago entering Tuesday’s game. Aaron Nola did nothing to change that tune. Nola struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings and the bullpen rung up five more. The Giants have three games already with at least 17 strikeouts. They never whiffed more than 15 times last season. 

“That’s a little bit of a surprise, as many strikeouts as we’ve had,” Bochy said. “These last two starters have been tough. They both had great stuff and command.”

On Monday, Zach Eflin set his career-high in strikeouts. Nola was on a different level, and a scout in attendance said it was the best stuff he had seen all year, with three “plus-plus” pitches going. The 24-year-old got 26 swinging strikes, the second-most in the majors this season.

“He’s been throwing the ball well and he really did tonight,” Bochy said. 

Derek Holland has not thrown all that well this season, and he gave up two early homers on curveballs. The second one was tucked low and away and it almost looked like Jorge Alfaro knew the pitch was coming. Holland went back and looked at film and felt he was tipping his breaking ball, something he has done in the past by inadvertently slowing down his delivery. He made an adjustment and didn’t allow another run, but the Giants made too many mistakes on this night to truly come back. 

Austin Jackson bobbled a ball to the wall in the third, allowing Cesar Hernandez to reach third. Alen Hanson couldn’t keep Odubel Herrera’s bouncer up the middle on the infield. On another night, Holland might have escaped that inning. On this night, it was an easy run for the Phillies. 

Then there was the mistake that really seemed to get to Bochy. Gregor Blanco singled with two outs in the fifth but was picked off with Andrew McCutchen at the plate. Blanco had nearly been picked off earlier in the at-bat, but replay showed he was just barely back in ahead of the tag. In a two-run game, the misplays added up. The pickoff was the MLB-leading sixth of the year for Giants runners.

“That’s something we will address,” Bochy said. “That’s too many pickoffs.”

It does not sound like the strikeouts have reached that level yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. Every hitter in the lineup struck out at least once, and Jackson whiffed three times. 

“A lot of strikeouts tonight,” Bochy said. “That’s unlike us, although we’ve had our moments.”

There have been a lot more of those moments this season than in the past. 

Giants notes: Why Joe Panik is on the bench for the third straight game in LA

Giants notes: Why Joe Panik is on the bench for the third straight game in LA

LOS ANGELES — The first time the Giants visited the Dodgers this season, Joe Panik won a pair of games with homers. This time around, Panik will leave Dodger Stadium without having made a start. 

Panik was on the bench again Wednesday as the Giants faced a left-handed starter for the third consecutive game. The opening day starter is in a platoon, and while Bruce Bochy thought about having Panik at second base against Hyun-Jin Ryu, he ultimately went with Alen Hanson, noting the latter had a big contribution a night earlier.

Bochy said he’ll keep Panik busy the rest of this trip. The Giants will face three right-handed starters in Cincinnati this weekend and the Mets also are right-handed-heavy. 

“We’ll see a lot of right-handers so he’ll get his at-bats,” Bochy said. “Once we get on the road here it’ll be the other way.”

Panik is hitting just .236 this season and has only two homers since taking Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen deep that opening week. He has a .459 OPS against left-handed pitchers and has given time up to Hanson and Chase d’Arnaud since returning from his second DL stint. 

Panik may start all three games this weekend, and pitchers aside, there’s a good reason to run him out there in New York. The New York native has always played well close to home, posting a .812 OPS at Citi Field. 

“I can’t sit a New Yorker in New York,” Bochy said, smiling. 

—- Jeff Samardzija will face hitters again Friday in Cincinnati. If all goes well, he will start a rehab assignment. Samardzija figures to be about three weeks away from being a rotation option. 

—- Bochy, a day later, on Yasiel Puig: “There are certain players in the league that I think you look at as guys that other players get frustrated with, a lot of drama and things like that. But you know what, the game has changed a lot. It has.”

Bochy has said that several times over the past couple of seasons. He is old-school, but he no longer gets worked up about bat flips and all the excess emotion in today’s game. Some of his players still do, and on Tuesday that cleared the benches. 

Puig was in Wednesday’s lineup. MLB was not expected to hand down any discipline until Thursday.

Down on the Farm: Gio Brusa climbs up San Jose Giants record books


Down on the Farm: Gio Brusa climbs up San Jose Giants record books

Gio Brusa has spent the past two season in San Jose with the Giants' Advanced Single-A team, finding mixed results at the plate. 

Brusa has struck out 258 times compared to 62 walks and has just a .296 on-base percentage on the dot in both 2017 and 2018. While his average has been low and his strikeouts high, Brusa is hitting home runs at a record pace. 

In San Jose's 8-1 win over the Inland Empire 66ers Tuesday night, Brusa hit his team-leading 18th home run, which is one more than he hit last season in 20 less games. The 25-year-old out of Lodi now has 35 home runs as a San Jose Giant, which ranks him sixth in team history. 

While Brusa has much more power hitting from the left side, he is the all-time team leader in career home runs as a switch hitter. 

From the left side, Brusa has 16 home runs in 290 at-bats this season. Batting right-handed, he has two more long balls in 68 at-bats. For his San Jose career, Brusa has hit 25 home runs left-handed and 10 right-handed. 

Power showed up for Brusa as a senior at the University of the Pacific in 2016. Playing left field for the Tigers, Brusa moved to first base this season, he combined for 11 home runs in his first three seasons. At the same, his slugging percentage kept rising from .387 to .406 to .527 as a junior. 

And then he completely broke out at the plate as a senior. 

In his final year at Pacific, Brusa led the Tigers in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and RBI while bashing 14 home runs, three more than the previous three seasons combined, as he slashed .337/.418/.614. That monster season turned into a sixth-round draft pick for the Giants. 

Since starting his professional career, Brusa is still searching for the consistency of his senior season as his power is on full display in record-setting ways.