Mac Williamson signs contract with Mariners, homers in first at-bat


Mac Williamson signs contract with Mariners, homers in first at-bat

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball can sometimes be a very small world. 

Mac Williamson signed a minor league contract with the Mariners on Wednesday and was right away called up to the big leagues because outfielder Braden Bishop was placed on the injured list with a lacerated spleen. Bishop is the older brother of Hunter Bishop, drafted 10th overall by Williamson's previous team on Monday. 

Williamson was designated for assignment on the last homestand and cleared waivers over the weekend. He elected to become a free agent and apparently arrived in Tacoma on Tuesday night to join Seattle's Triple-A team. His time there was short-lived. 

Williamson played 15 games for the Giants, batting .115 with one homer before being DFA'd for the second time this season. At the time of his official release, manager Bruce Bochy said he was rooting for Williamson to catch on elsewhere and succeed. 

"I wish him the best," Bochy said. "He came up as a Giant and unfortunately it didn't quite work out like he hoped or we hoped, but I think he has good baseball left. Sometimes a change of scenery can do a lot of good."

[RELATED: Bochy struggles DFA'ing Williamson]

That change of scenery appears to have already paid dividends. Williamson hit a pinch-hit 3-run home run in his first at-bat with the Mariners on Wednesday night.

Williamson could find himself in a nice spot if he gets hot. The Mariners kicked off what is expected to be a widespread rebuild over the weekend by trading outfielder Jay Bruce to the Phillies. 

Giants have lined up Madison Bumgarner to start Bruce Bochy's last game


Giants have lined up Madison Bumgarner to start Bruce Bochy's last game

SAN FRANCISCO -- As important as this trip to Boston will be for several of his Giants teammates, there's no real significance in Madison Bumgarner being bumped up a day to start at Fenway Park on Thursday. He has no ties to the organization and the Red Sox don't figure to be an offseason suitor.

But the decision could lead to a really cool moment in a couple of weeks. 

Bumgarner and Tyler Beede will swap rotation spots this week so the staff ace can stay on turn and face the Red Sox. That lines Bumgarner up to start next Tuesday at home and then end his season by starting the final game against the Dodgers on Sunday, Sept. 29. That would be Bruce Bochy's final game as manager, and potentially Bumgarner's final game with the Giants. 

The Giants right now are saying they're just committed to Bumgarner making the next two starts and will decide on their final weekend rotation as it gets closer. But it's hard to imagine a scenario where anyone but Bumgarner starts Bochy's final game. 

"I haven't put any thought in that -- we're still a ways away," Bochy said Sunday. "But I think you know what he means to me and what this guy has done for the organization. It's just special. For him to pitch the last game, if that's the case, that would be quite the honor."

[RELATED: MadBum not thinking about possible final days with Giants]

The swap did come with one downside. Beede grew up in the Boston area and was hoping to pitch at Fenway Park, but he'll now make his next appearance in Atlanta on Friday.

This is more about two men who have been in San Francisco a long time, and the Giants seem set for an extremely emotional moment. Dozens of Bochy's former players are expected in town that final week, and those who stay through Sunday will likely see him meet Bumgarner on the mound one last time. 

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're at all surprised by Johnny Cueto's first two starts back from Tommy John surgery, you probably shouldn't be. 

After all, this is a pitcher who had a 0.84 ERA through the end of April last season when he felt constant pain in his elbow and knew that surgery could be in his near future. Cueto found a way to fool hitters back then, and the Giants were always optimistic that he would find his form once he returned. Even by that standard, though, the first two starts have been impressive. 

Cueto threw five more shutout innings Sunday, giving him 10 scoreless frames in his return. He has allowed just four hits, walked three and struck out six. He would have picked up a second win Sunday, but the bullpen temporarily coughed up the lead. The Giants would go on to beat the Marlins 2-1 when Mike Yastrzemski dashed home on a wild pitch in the eighth. 

"I don't know if anybody expected him to get off to a start like this, but you look at how he's throwing the ball and it's Johnny before his surgery," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's four pitches with command. He commands the ball, cuts it, mixes up his delivery -- and that works."

The Giants needed every scoreless inning, because right now they're out there with a lineup that's providing absolutely no punch. Cueto did his best to make an early Mauricio Dubon homer hold up, and he showed a sense of the moment as his day was coming to a close. 

Cueto had a long fourth inning and was 10 pitches from his predetermined count when he went out for the fifth. The bullpen was humming, but Cueto got through the inning on just six pitches. Then he popped into the dugout and asked Bochy for the sixth. 

"It was like Johnny knew it," Bochy said. "He got some quick outs."

[RELATED: MadBum not thinking about possible final days with Giants]

Bochy joked that he would let Cueto go 120 pitches if possible, but the restraints are still on and will be for the rest of this season. Cueto could get to 80-85 pitches in his next start and said he hopes to be cleared for 100 in his season finale. With the way he's throwing right now, that might be enough to take a shot at a shutout.