McCutchen wins epic battle, sets off party at AT&T Park

McCutchen wins epic battle, sets off party at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — Andrew McCutchen dropped his bat, took two strong steps, pumped both fists, and screamed. When you know, you know, and an entire fan base now knows exactly what the city of Pittsburgh felt for all those years. 

McCutchen showed every bit of his talent in a thrilling and long 7-5 win at AT&T Park, piling up five hits before dropping the hammer on the Dodgers in the bottom of the 14th. The sixth and final hit was a walk-off homer to left on the 12th pitch of an epic battle with Wilmer Font. It turned a deficit into an instant classic of a win. Afterward, he was asked how he celebrated his Welcome to San Francisco moment. 

“It was pretty much a party in here,” he said, smiling. 

There were many worthy of being celebrated on this night. After some early wobbles, the bullpen hung tough until McCutchen’s heroics. Pierce Johnson, Reyes Moronta and Roberto Gomez, all rookies, handled the final five frames. Kelby Tomlinson singled to lead off the bottom of the 14th and boldly took third on Yasiel Puig. Tony Watson kept things close in regulation. 

Mostly, though, this was about McCutchen. He was the big offseason acquisition, the player the front office imported after a 98-loss season to try and inject some life back into a suffering franchise. It had been a rough start for McCutchen. He entered the seventh game of the season with a .083 batting average. By the time he crossed the plate after five hours and 16 minutes of baseball, it was .280.

“I’ve gotten six hits in a couple of games … like six in a row,” he joked. “But never in one game.”

McCutchen said nothing really felt different on this day. He got pitches to hit and he took advantage, starting with his first at-bat, when he smoked a double into the left field corner. By the time it was over, however, he was in the record books. According to ESPN Stats & Info, McCutchen is the second player in MLB history with six hits and a walk-off homer in the same game. 

The final touches were put on that feat in dramatic fashion. McCutchen walked to the plate with the Giants down by a run, but the tying run was on third and the go-ahead run was on first. Font was the last reliever left in the Dodgers bullpen, and it quickly became clear what his plan was. 

“The first pitch he started me off with a curveball that I didn't want. It was up and then he went fastball up, and from there I knew those were the two pitches that he throws,” McCutchen said. “I was just trying to fight them off, fight them off, fight them off, until I got comfortable with whatever he threw up there.”

Font kept pumping curveballs and elevated heaters. McCutchen fouled seven of them off. The final one came in at 94.6 mph. McCutchen rocketed it out to left at 100 mph. 

“He didn’t elevate it too much and I was able to elevate it,” he said. 

With the swing, McCutchen lifted a clubhouse that has seen so many of these games go the other way the past two years. He emphatically threw his high socks into one of the sport’s best rivalries, and offered a reminder to the rest of the National League West that this is a different Giants team. It’s the type that’s used to playing and winning games like this.

“It was one of those Giants-Dodgers games that will be talked about,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s how good a game it was. It had everything.” 

Bruce Bochy says Steven Duggar will get look as Giants' leadoff hitter


Bruce Bochy says Steven Duggar will get look as Giants' leadoff hitter

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Another day, another addition.

This time it’s Yangervis Solarte, and the former Padres and Blue Jays infielder has a good shot at making the roster. Here’s my story from this morning on Solarte, who still needs to pass his physical.

Solarte and Bruce Bochy spoke on the phone yesterday and the manager is psyched about the addition. He said Solarte will mostly play second and third, but Bochy liked what he saw of him at short in San Diego and that phone conversation included some discussion of playing left field.

Solarte even told the Giants he would be fine with center, but that ain't happening. 

“We’re excited to have him,” Bochy said. “We saw a lot of him in San Diego. A good player, can play a lot of positions, a switch-hitter. He’s a nice addition.”

Here are some more observations from Day 3: 

New Leadoff Hitter?

Steven Duggar (shoulder) and Ryder Jones (knee) took on-field batting practice for the first time since having surgery. Both looked good and shouldn’t face too many restrictions this spring.

As Bochy watched Duggar, he found himself thinking about the lineup. He said he hopes to have Duggar in one of the top two spots. 

“You look at the top of the order. That’s the first spot you think about,” Bochy said. “How it’s going and how they’re playing will dictate it but I think he’s a good leadoff hitter.”

Jersey Crunch

The Giants have retired so many numbers and have so many players in camp that they’re running out of numbers. So, Trevor Gott, who has big league experience, is currently wearing No. 91. And when the Giants signed a flood of veterans over the past week, some familiar numbers were given away.

Gerardo Parra will wear No. 8, formerly Hunter Pence’s number, and Rene Rivera will wear Matt Cain’s 18 if he’s on the roster. The clubhouse staff did agonize over all this as many fans do, but there was no other way. The only low numbers that remain are 5 and 22.

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Parra wore 8 with the Rockies and Rivera has mostly worn 44, which isn’t an option here obviously. 

Don’t Mess With Bumgarner

That’s the main thing we were reminded of today. Maybe he was imagining Yasiel Puig coming down the line?

Giants continue discussing trade options as they wait for Bryce Harper

Giants continue discussing trade options as they wait for Bryce Harper

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For every move the Giants have made over the past week, the response from an anxious fan base has been the same.

“Uhhh, that dude isn’t Bryce Harper.”

The biggest name on the market remains on the market, but what do the Giants do if Harper chooses the Phillies or Nationals or Padres or some mystery team? Farhan Zaidi is working on Plan B, too, and that could involve remaining free agents or trades. The Giants do still need help in their outfield. 

“We’ve had trade conversations with teams about certain players that started in 2018 that kind of are continuing now,” Zaidi said. “It’s a little bit of a function of the slow market. I think with anything that’s a hypothetical, it’s a good idea to have alternatives and not put all your eggs in any one basket.”

The Giants won’t reach into any other basket until Harper has made a decision. There’s no available player that would match that production, but this offseason started with more humble goals and there are plenty of options on the trade market. If the Giants don’t get Harper, they seem well positioned to quickly pivot. 

In the meantime, Zaidi is padding out the rest of the roster. All offseason, he said he wanted catching depth. Stephen Vogt and Rene Rivera signed in the span of four days. Zaidi wanted a versatile infield piece, too, and Yangervis Solarte is on his way. He wanted a couple of outfielders, and Gerardo Parra fills one hole. 

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Zaidi will always tinker. That’s his nature. But he doesn’t want to add too many more players on non-roster deals because he wants the recent additions and the younger players in-house already to have a real opportunity to compete this spring. That was promised to the players already here, so don’t expect too many more who fit the mold of a Parra or Solarte. 

“We want competition but don’t want this to be a reality show or tryout camp,” Zaidi said. “You try to draw the line between feeling good about the guys you have but also not going overboard.”