Giants

Source: Giants one of first known finalists to meet with Shohei Ohtani

ohtani-talking-japan-ap.jpg
AP

Source: Giants one of first known finalists to meet with Shohei Ohtani

SAN FRANCISCO — As the Giants continued to wait for Giancarlo Stanton to make a decision, they switched gears for a few hours Monday and put the full-court press on their other offseason target. 

Multiple sources told NBC Sports Bay Area that the Giants sent a large contingent to meet with Ohtani on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles. They are the first known team to sit down face to face with the Japanese superstar, who was posted last week and intends to be a two-way player next season. The Giants sent the majority of their front office, including Larry Baer, Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley. Bruce Bochy was also sent to the meeting, and a source said the Giants called Buster Posey in to help with the recruiting. 

Per multiple reports, Ohtani narrowed his field over the weekend, focusing on seven teams. The list is heavy on the West Coast, with the Giants joined by the Dodgers, Angels, Padres and Mariners. The Cubs and Rangers are the other two teams that will get a meeting with Ohtani. 

The Giants have been on Ohtani since he was a high school star, and they made him a focus late in a disappointing season. Evans and Shelley visited Japan in October to scout Ohtani in person. When Ohtani officially became available on Friday, Bochy told NBC Sports Bay Area that a plan was presented to use Ohtani as a top-of-the-rotation starter and a part-time outfielder. 

“This guy is special,” Bochy said on Friday. “I see him as somebody who could be a starter and it’s possible you’re also looking at 300 or 400 at-bats. It’s going to make it a little easier next year with our days off, looking at the new schedule, to where he could play even more because he’ll get that additional rest. That’ll make it easier, too.”

Giants make two crucial mistakes, get rocked by Astros

Giants make two crucial mistakes, get rocked by Astros

HOUSTON — On Saturday, acting on an idea from hitting coach Alonzo Powell, a former Astro, the Giants placed a call to the Warriors. By Monday, Warriors equipment manager Eric Housen had delivered 60 sets of warm-ups to Minute Maid Park so the Giants could represent the Bay Area on their flight to Chicago. 

It was an idea that had players excited as they tried on the gear for the first time. It was also an idea that seemed like a better one before the team actually took the field against the Astros. 

The Giants got smoked in a two-game series here, losing 4-1 on Wednesday and getting outscored 15-3 in 18 innings. For good measure, the hometown Rockets upset the Warriors a few minutes after Tuesday night’s blowout loss to Gerrit Cole. Justin Verlander was just as tough, allowing one run in six innings, which actually raised his ERA a bit, to 1.08.

“It’s such a good staff over here,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You’ve got your hands full. We saw two really good ones. You know you’ve got your hands full to try to get some runs. I thought last night we had some chances, but not so much today.”

The Giants grabbed an early lead when Gorkys Hernandez lined a triple and scored on Buster Posey’s sacrifice fly. But you have to play perfect baseball to come in here and beat the Astros, and they made two huge mistakes. 

First, Andrew McCutchen overran a pop-up to right field. Carlos Correa scored all the way from first on the two-out error. 

“I missed it. No excuses,” McCutchen said. “The ball got hit in the air and I missed it. Plain and simple.”

The bigger mistake came an inning later, after Samardzija had issued one of his five walks. He tried to throw a 1-2 slider to George Springer and ended up leaving a flat 89 mph meatball in the exact heart of the strike zone. Springer crushed it for a two-run shot. Ballgame. 

“It was just a pitch that stayed middle,” Samardzija said. “If you get it going more to the outer half of the plate you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting an out.”

A year ago, Samardzija might have dotted that outer half. But his command has taken a huge step back. He has 25 strikeouts to 23 walks after issuing just 32 free passes all of last season. 

“When you don’t have your best stuff, you don’t ever want to be missing in the middle of the plate,” Samardzija said of the lack of command. 

The shame of all this is that the Giants could have stolen a huge win on Wednesday. Hernandez had a solid day — nine-pitch leadoff out, triple, single — and looks poised to be the everyday center fielder when the Giants remember they employ Mac Williamson. The bullpen had a solid day. Bochy had Will Smith, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland lined up to try and shorten the game and possibly get extended. Smith and Dyson did get in, and had an easy time of it. 

But all too often, the starters have come up short. Before Bochy could turn to the trusted arms in the ‘pen, Samardzija had done too much damage. He was out by the fifth, and the Astros cruised home from there.

Giants swept by Astros in two-game series, get outscored 15-3

Giants swept by Astros in two-game series, get outscored 15-3

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON — The Giants did exactly what you might have expected during their 48 hours at Minute Maid Park. 

A day after getting blown out by Gerrit Cole and the Astros, the lineup managed just one run off Justin Verlander, the MLB ERA leader, falling 4-1. A couple of mistakes proved costly. Andrew McCutchen made an error in right that cost Jeff Samardzija a run, and Samardzija grooved a slider to George Springer that shot out of the yard for a two-run homer. 

The Giants got outscored 15-3 by the reigning champs. They’ll see them again in August. Here’s what else you need to know from the mini-sweep… 

— Houston’s first run was a strange one. Carlos Correa singled with one out, but Samardzija appeared to be out of the inning when Yuli Gurriel hit a high pop-up to shallow right. McCutchen ran 108 feet to get under the ball but then whiffed on the catch attempt, and Correa scored all the way from first. That’s the second time McCutchen has done that this season, his first in right. 

— Samardzija led the Giants last season with 14 starts that lasted at least seven innings. He has yet to do it this season in seven appearances. In 4 2/3 innings, Samardzija was charged with four runs — three earned — on four hits and five walks. 

— Will Smith has been really good. He pitched 1 1/3 perfect frames in relief of Samardzija and he still has not allowed an earned run in 10 appearances since returning from Tommy John. 

— Pablo Sandoval faced Verlander twice. He did not homer. He grounded out to third and flied out to left.