Moore's error on underhanded throw proves costly in loss to Indians

Moore's error on underhanded throw proves costly in loss to Indians

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s an odd thing about pitchers. Many of these guys, who make millions by hitting a tiny target 60 feet away, just don’t feel comfortable making the much shorter throws to bases. 

Matt Moore has never been in that camp. Oh, he can lose his command to the plate quite often, but he has never felt the need to cut back on throws to first. Moore couldn’t remember ever making an underhanded throw over there. He sets his feet and fires it as he always does, but in the fifth inning Monday, Moore felt rushed and he changed it up. It likely cost the Giants the game. 

Moore’s underhanded throwing error turned what would have been a 3-1 game into a tied one and cost him nearly an inning's worth of pitches. Jae-gyun Hwang’s error in the sixth compounded that damage, and the Giants couldn’t touch a dominant Indians bullpen. They lost 5-3 on the first night of a lengthy homestand, one that also started with the official death of the seven-year sellout streak. 

Moore pitched well and said he was happy with his conviction and command. Bruce Bochy complimented his confidence on the mound. Overall, this was a big step in the right direction, but that underhanded throw left Moore with what he called “a dark spot.”

“I knew (Bradley) Zimmer is fast and I did what felt natural. I grabbed it and picked it up and threw it underhanded,” he said. “As soon as I let it go, I knew it was too high.”

Brandon Belt likely would have come down with it, but he has a sprained left wrist and that left the shorter Hwang out there for the first time. He had no chance. Moore said he would have thrown it overhanded if he had not dropped the initial grounder. He was left shaking his head after a night where he went seven.

“It’s a shame what happened,” Bochy said. “He’s 15 feet from first base and he just held onto it too long and that’s the difference in the game. It’s been a tough go. We get home and we want to get off to a good start and win the ballgame. To lose like that, sure, it’s always tough to lose. You hate shooting yourself in the foot, which we did.”

--- The Giants announced during the game that their sellout streak officially ended at 530 regular season games. That’s a National League record. Look, I’ve made fun of the streak quite a few times. I think it ended a night or two in 2013, if only just barely. But the Giants have a lot of people who worked very hard to find creative ways to sell some losing teams, and this was a tough night for them. It’s a hell of an accomplishment, and it tells you something about the experience here that the Giants still drew nearly 40,000 tonight given what their record is. 

“It’s incredible the support we’ve had,” Bochy said. “This season couldn’t have gone worse. I don’t think any of us could have seen it unraveling the way it has. It’s been a tough go and the one constant has been the support. We can’t thank (the fans) enough. We appreciate it. We’re disappointed we’re not in a better place for our fans.”

The Giants expect to sell out again as soon as Wednesday. 

--- Another streak ended tonight: Eduardo Nuñez was 0 for 4, ending his MLB-best streak of 33 consecutive games reaching base. That was the longest streak in the majors this season.

--- Ryder Jones was reinstated from the DL and optioned to Triple-A Sacramento after the game. He’s expected to be in their lineup Tuesday night.

Why Josh Harrison would fit Giants but isn't perfect platoon partner


Why Josh Harrison would fit Giants but isn't perfect platoon partner

With Farhan Zaidi now at the head of decision-making, the Giants want a more versatile roster. One player who fits the mold and has been linked to the Giants in recent months is Josh Harrison.

FanCred's Jon Heyman resurfaced the report Sunday, listing the Giants, Dodgers, Angels, Phillies and Rays as teams interested in the former Pirates second baseman. 

Giants manager Bruce Bochy has said he will embrace platooning players, and second baseman Joe Panik consistently has been talked about as a player the front office will look at as a left-handed hitter in need of a right-handed partner. 

So, could Harrison be the answer? Yes and no. 

Harrison, 31, certainly is the kind of multi-positional player Zaidi covets. While he spent 87 of the 89 games he saw in the field at second base, compared to just two at third base in 2018, he has played five positions -- second, third, right field, left field and shortstop -- over his eight-year career. 

The Giants could use Harrison all over the field, but is he the right platoon partner at the plate with Panik? Not exactly. 

Panik hit just .191 against left-handed pitching last season, compared to .282 facing right-handers. But Harrison, a right-handed hitter, also struggled mightily against left-handed pitching. He had reverse splits, hitting .262 against right-handers and just .219 against left-handers in 2018. 

Harrison's splits very well could be an outlier, though, making him more intriguing to the Giants. He hit .286 against left-handers in 2017, and is a .279 career hitter against southpaws. 

They'll have to hope his 2018 season isn't a sign for things to come, but Harrison makes plenty of sense for the Giants to at least entertain adding the utility man.

Why Dodgers might pick A.J. Pollock over Bryce Harper in MLB free agency


Why Dodgers might pick A.J. Pollock over Bryce Harper in MLB free agency

When the Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds last month, it sparked speculation that the team was clearing space in its outfield to sign Bryce Harper.

What if it was for A.J. Pollock instead, though?

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the Dodgers are interested in Pollock, who fits their player profile and needs in many ways.

Pollock has his issues -- he reportedly wants a five-year, $80 million contract, and he played more than 115 games just twice in seven seasons with the Diamondbacks. But, as Rosenthal noted, Pollock would provide the Dodgers with positional versatility and the right-handed bat they need. Harper, a lefty hitter who mostly plays right field, would do neither, and he’s rumored to be seeking a $300 million-plus deal.

While the Dodgers have big wallets, they could decide signing Pollock for about one-fifth the price of Harper is more prudent. That certainly would sit well with Giants fans, who don’t want to see their hated NL West rivals loading up for a run at a seventh consecutive division title.

And before you ask, no, Harper and/or Pollock aren’t options for the Giants, who also could use outfield help. It’s clear new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who came from the Dodgers, values sense more than dollars as he tackles the huge task of making the Giants contenders again.