Moore, Giants finally keep momentum going with second win over Reds

Moore, Giants finally keep momentum going with second win over Reds

SAN FRANCISCO — For a team with only 14 wins, the Giants have packed in quite a few thrilling games.

There was the night Joe Panik drove one into center at Kauffman Stadium to beat the Royals in extra innings. The night newcomers Christian Arroyo and Michael Morse homered in a comeback win over the Dodgers. The night Johnny Cueto edged Clayton Kershaw. Just a few days ago, the Giants scored four in the ninth to stun the Mets. 

Those games came with a common, unfortunate theme: They were all followed by a loss. 

Momentum has slipped through this last place team’s grasp over and over again, but on Saturday the Giants finally found a way to keep their ship headed in the right direction. Matt Moore was sharp into the eighth and two solo homers proved enough. The Giants beat the Reds 3-1, getting a second win in 15 hours. 

“I think last night helped propel us to win today, honestly,” said Justin Ruggiano, who hit the second blast. “Matt knew we needed innings and he took on the challenge. Had we lost that game (last night), that would have made us even more tired. But it gave us a little jolt and carried into today.”

Even Moore, who was sent home after the fifth inning Friday, felt the energy. A starter is ostensibly sent home early so he can rest, but Moore couldn’t pull himself away from the marathon. He watched until the final out, and when he reported to the clubhouse Saturday morning, he hoped no one would ask what time he turned the TV off. Regardless, he gave Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti exactly what they needed. 

The Giants were already quietly planning roster moves in case the bullpen had another taxing day. Moore then went out and tossed 120 pitches, tying the second-highest total of his career. He got the first out of the eighth before departing. 

“It was really needed for him to get us deep into the game and he gave us more than I thought, to be honest, with where his pitch count was early,” Bochy said. “He found a way to make some pitches.”

The Giants found an unlikely way to give Moore the lead. A group lacking power smacked two solo shots, one from Brandon Belt that found the water, and one from Ruggiano, who has had plenty of success at AT&T Park. 

“Having a lot of day games here has helped,” Ruggiano said.

A night earlier, he had been robbed by the thick air.

“I hit this one about the same,” he said. “They felt the same to me. (But) I know how it is here in day games.”

Moore gave up a homer himself, but that was it. He was charged with one run over 7 1/3 and picked up his first win since April 10. That was also the last time the Giants went back-to-back. On April 11 they lost again, and they dropped eight of 11 overall after their previous “winning streak.”

Players and coaches were hopeful this style will be more long-lasting. The Giants have gotten back to their roots the last 24 hours, winning on starting pitching, a resilient bullpen, and a steady defense. Shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Joe Panik were particularly flashy Saturday. Moore even added to the highlight reel, snagging Joey Votto’s scorched liner back to the mound. 

“I was kind of wondering how guys catch those,” he said, smiling. “I threw the ball and then my hand was hurting.”

An hour later, he used it for handshakes and high-fives. He hopes to do it again Sunday.

“Obviously the trench we’re in is steep, right? But without making excuses or saying we have time, it’s about taking it one at a time,” he said. “If we slow down and worry about today, and take care of what’s right in front and keep your head down, that seems the way to handle it.”


MLB rumors: How Dodgers' Dave Roberts could replace Giants' Bruce Bochy


MLB rumors: How Dodgers' Dave Roberts could replace Giants' Bruce Bochy

The Giants already made one drastic change to their franchise this offseason in hiring Farhan Zaidi away from the Los Angeles Dodgers as their new president of baseball operations. Another year from now, could they add another prominent figure from their archrival?

According to FanCred's Jon Heyman, the Dodgers and manager Dave Roberts appeared close to a multiyear contract extension a week ago, but they now sit at a standstill, unable to come to an agreement. Roberts is said to be on vacation overseas, per Heyman, and the sides “remain far apart."

Los Angeles picked up Roberts’ $1.1 million option for 2019, meaning he’s under contract for next season, but not beyond. If the sides can't come to an agreement on an extension, Roberts essentially will enter next season as a lame-duck manager.

How do the Giants figure into this, you ask? Well, they just might have a managerial opening in one year’s time.

Bruce Bochy is entering the final year of his contract, and while the Giants have experienced plenty of success under the future Hall of Fame manager, there is plenty of reason to believe this will be Bochy’s last season in orange and black.

If 2019 indeed is Bochy’s final season with the Giants, could Roberts be the front-runner to replace him, provided he and the Dodgers don’t reach an extension? In many ways, it would be a logical pairing.

Zaidi obviously is familiar with Roberts, having served as general manager of the Dodgers since the beginning of the 2015 season. Roberts was hired as manager the following year, and Los Angeles has won the National League West in every season since, ultimately losing in the World Series each of the last two years.

Giants fans should be familiar with Roberts as well, and not just because of the last few years. The Dodgers manager spent the final two seasons of his 10-year playing career in San Francisco, batting .252 and stealing 36 bases in 166 games for the orange and black. He also played three seasons in Los Angeles and two in San Diego.

There’s still plenty of time for Roberts and the Dodgers to come to an agreement on an extension, but if for whatever reason they don’t, he could find another home within NL West a year from now.

MLB free agency debate: Where will Patrick Corbin sign this offseason?

MLB free agency debate: Where will Patrick Corbin 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. Friday's free agent to discuss is Patrick Corbin, a left-hander who had a career year at the perfect time and could be looking at the biggest deal for any pitcher this offseason.

ALEX: At some point, Patrick Corbin is going to sign a $100 million deal somewhere. When he does, he should send a nice catered meal -- or at least a couple dozen bags of Chick-fil-A -- to the Giants' spring clubhouse. They did more than anyone to help him get to this point.

Corbin faced the Giants six times last year, posting a 2.27 ERA and holding their hitters to a .176 average. Nearly 20 percent of his innings in his huge walk year were thrown against a bad Giants lineup, and he took full advantage. If you throw those Giants starts out, he had a 3.37 ERA. Good but not elite.

But good for him. They were on the schedule, and he dominated.

Here's the question: Do you really think he's the top guy on the market, or would you prefer Dallas Keuchel or Nathan Eovaldi? 

BEN: I have to admit I hadn’t thought of it that way before! Maybe the Giants should sign him just to make sure they don’t have to face him again.

I still think Corbin is the top pitcher on the market. 246 strikeouts in 200 innings is impressive, to say the least. It seems like the Yankees are the favorites to land him. Where else might he end up?

ALEX: The Yankees are the favorites, for sure. It sounds like the Phillies are going to spend a ton of money this winter, and maybe they'll turn to pitching if they strike out on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

In your division, I think the Angels have to be in on all the pitchers, just to make sure they give Mike Trout a real shot at the postseason before his contract expires. And I wonder if the Astros will go big to make up for Keuchel and Charlie Morton being free agents and Lance McCullers having Tommy John. The Braves could use an ace, too, which is why they're a popular Madison Bumgarner destination. Corbin will have a robust market.

Am I missing anyone? 

BEN: I think those are all realistic options. I think the Nationals will have some interest as well. Is there any chance he returns to Arizona? What about the Giants? Or are they done giving big money to free agent pitchers?

ALEX: They should be after giving out $220 million to two guys who are currently injured. Plus, the Andrew Friedman-Farhan Zaidi Dodgers tended to go for three-year deals for veteran pitchers, and Corbin is going to try to get twice that.

I don't see him back in Arizona, given all the talk there about trading Zach Greinke and possibly Paul Goldschmidt -- it sounds like they're taking a real step back. I'm going to go with everyone else and predict he ends up with the Yankees. Let's say, five years and $110 million. 

BEN: I'm picking the Yankees, too. He's used to pitching in a hitter's park, although Chase Field isn't quite Yankee Stadium. But he's a strikeout pitcher, so the ballpark shouldn't matter a ton.

The Yankees need starting pitching, and they have plenty of money to spend. I'll say he gets five years, $105 million.

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. Friday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin.