Giants fall short against Angels, 4-3

Giants fall short against Angels, 4-3

The Giants fell short against the Angels on Saturday 4-3. It didn’t feel like they were only down a run, however because they struck out 17 times. It was the most the Giants have struck out in a nine-inning game since August 31st, 1959, where Sandy Koufax struck out 18. (h/t Andrew Baggarly via Twitter)

Let’s put that in some perspective and line them up end to end. Those 17 strikeouts amount to 5.2 innings. That’s nearly two per inning of a nine-inning game. It is 17 non-productive outs out of 27. It’s bad, folks.

And some amount of blame, or credit, goes to Joe West’s very generous strike zone, but if you’re striking out 17 times in a game, you don’t get to blame the umpire. You need to adjust. They did not. The only player who did not strike out in this game was Mac Williamson.

Here’s how it broke down:

  • 1st – 1 K
  • 2nd – 3 K
  • 3rd – 2 K
  • 5th – 2 K
  • 6th – 3 K
  • 7th – 2 K
  • 8th – 2 K
  • 9th – 2 K

Sure, you can get other offense going before, between and after those strike outs, but it doesn’t leave much room for error.

Pablo Sandoval initially struck out in the second inning, but made it to first on a wild pitch (and stole second on a wild pitch as well) before Brandon Belt hit a home run – his third in the last three games he’s played. Evan Longoria and Nick Hundley both had singles after that, sprinkled in between two strike outs that left them stranded.

In the top of the eighth with two outs, Andrew McCutchen walked and was doubled in by Sandoval, followed by an intentional walk of Belt. This was, of course, followed by a strike out.

Surprisingly, the Giants actually got more hits than the Angels. Unfortunately, three of the Angels’ hits were home runs. Jefry Marte in the second, Mike Trout in the third and Albert Pujols’ two-run shot in the sixth.

In the bottom of the seventh, Trout hit a double and then stole third. Catcher Nick Hundley threw to Longoria at third, but the ball went by him. And here’s where I had an issue with this play. Mike Trout is a big dude. At 6’2”, 235 pounds, you don’t just not see that he’s right in front of you when you turn around to go after the ball. But apparently that’s what happened to Longoria as he turned and fell on top of Trout, effectively hurting him enough to keep him from scoring. I don’t like it. Sure, it was effective in not allowing him to score, but I don’t like needlessly hurting another player as a form of defense. Never have, never will.

In the following at-bat, there was a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Pujols. Justin Upton (who was at the plate when Trout stole third, and ultimately walked) slid into Joe Panik to try to break up the double play. Another play I don’t like, but one that could bee seen as retaliatory. Both are dumb, even when they’re effective. We’ve seen far too many people get injured on things like this and it’s just unnecessarily risky and dumb.

Going back to Brandon Belt’s home run, it was an interesting one in that it didn’t look like it was initially going to count. At first, it looked like Mike Trout might catch it. Then it looked like it might not have gone high enough to count as more than a ground rule double. That’s certainly what Trout thought afterwards. A year ago, it wouldn’t have. They changed the rules this year so that the ball doesn’t have to reach the seats. Finally, Belt can laugh at he ballpark instead of the other way around.

Here’s a wild thought, maybe they should stop benching Belt every few games and let him properly heat up. It is still wild that Belt hit two home runs in two games and was benched on Friday night. At least we can be sure he’ll play tomorrow, since the Giants are facing a right handed pitcher.

Johnny Cueto will take the mound for the Giants tomorrow against Jaime Barria, who will be making his second major league start. Cueto has been excellent this season, so hopefully the Giants can take advantage and win their first series of the year.

**Side note: Sean Manaea of the Oakland A’s pitched a no-hitter tonight against the Boston Red Sox that ended shortly before this game did. Now there’s a game in which you could imagine a team striking out 17 times. The Red Sox only struck out 10 times. Anyway, Manaea wears number 55. Respect.

Holland serves up three home runs, Angels come back to sink Giants

Holland serves up three home runs, Angels come back to sink Giants

ANAHEIM–With a tie game and a chance to coax one last inning out of his starting pitcher, Bruce Bochy elected to tempt fate, letting Derek Holland face the heart of the Angels’ order in the sixth inning.

The skipper went all-in. The Angels had the better hand.

It wasn’t rookie star Shohei Ohtani who ruined Holland’s night, as he was on the bench. It wasn’t cleanup hitter Justin Upton, as he drew a walk. It wasn’t even two-time MVP Mike Trout, who homered off Holland earlier in the game to knot up the score at 2-2.

It was 18th-year veteran Albert Pujols, who launched his 618th career home run into the right center field seats to put the Angels ahead for good in a 4-3 win.

Though Giants starting pitchers have earned Bochy’s trust and loyalty with a string of impressive performances, the skipper’s leash proved too long for Holland on Saturday.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Giants left fielder Mac Williamson had to play the part of a goalie defending penalty kicks, as the Angels crushed three line drives at speeds greater than 90 miles per hour in his direction.

Williamson saved all three from hitting the grass, but it was the ball hit to right field that did in Holland.

With the game tied 2-2, the Giants’ starter issued a one-out walk to Upton before Pujols stepped to the plate.

He wasn’t there long.

After working ahead 0-1, Holland threw Pujols a fastball up and out over the plate. There aren’t many 10-time All-Stars who miss mistakes, and Pujols smashed his 2,992nd career hit into the right center field bleachers.

Though Holland only surrendered five hits in six innings of work, he served up three home run balls and the Giants’ offense couldn’t preempt the Angel Stadium Saturday night fireworks show with its own version.

Even after a Pablo Sandoval RBI double cut the Angels’ lead to 4-3 in the top of the eighth, the Giants couldn’t continue a late rally that would have helped them secure their first series win of the season.

Despite sitting out his 30th birthday on Friday, Brandon Belt kept his home run streak alive with a round-tripper in the third straight game he played.

His two-run shot opened the scoring against Angels righty Garrett Richards and managed to spur a chaotic chain of events that riled up the crowd at Angel Stadium.

Belt’s blast into deep right center field barely cleared the yellow line at the top of the fence, and only did so after clanking off the outstretched glove of center fielder Mike Trout. While umpires Doug Eddings and Marty Foster signaled for a home run, Sandoval attempted to race from first to home as the ball trickled back onto the outfield grass.

The Angels acted as if the ball remained playable, setting up a relay to throw Sandoval out at the plate. While a throw arrived well ahead of the Giants designated hitter, umpire Joe West swung his arms wide to call Sandoval safe, eliciting jeers and groans from the home crowd.

Moments later, Belt was able to jog home freely, but not before Eddings and Foster cleared him to do so.

The fact Sandoval was on base at all was the result of a fortunate break for the Giants, as he struck out in his first three at-bats against Richards. Sandoval reached after swinging at a breaking ball in the dirt that caromed off of catcher Rene Rivera and over toward the third base dugout.

He then advanced to second on a wild pitch that sailed over Rivera’s head, and by the time Richards found a happy medium, Belt was ready to do damage.

The Angels needed just two innings to even the score, as Holland allowed a solo home run to Jefry Marte in the bottom of the second before Trout launched a tying shot to deep left center field in the third. Trout’s home run traveled 415 feet, and ensured that Holland would allow at least two runs for the fourth straight start.

After surrendering two runs in the first inning in each of his first three outings, Holland kept the Angels off the board in the opening frame Saturday, allowing a double to Trout before retiring the next two hitters in order.

Outside of Belt’s home run, the Giants struggled to square up Richards who maximized the the late movement on his pitches. Richards’ mid-90s fastball helped him tie his career high with 11 strikeouts, but he needed 104 pitches to navigate through six innings.

Buster Posey a late scratch, Pablo Sandoval to DH against Angels

Buster Posey a late scratch, Pablo Sandoval to DH against Angels

ANAHEIM–After playing first base in Friday’s contest against Anaheim, Buster Posey was penciled in as the Giants designated hitter on Saturday.

But about a half hour before first pitch, Posey was scratched with back stiffness. Pablo Sandoval will serve as the designated hitter and replace Posey as the cleanup hitter in the Giants’ lineup.

Posey has dealt with a sore thumb already this season, but the back stiffness appears to be a new injury.

In 63 at-bats this season, Posey has a .270 average with two home runs and eight RBIs.

Nick Hundley will catch for the second straight night, while Brandon Belt is back in the lineup as the Giants first baseman.

Posey has played in 18 of the Giants’ 20 games to date, starting 17 of them.

Angels aim to rebound in matchup with Giants

Angels aim to rebound in matchup with Giants

The Los Angeles Angels will host the San Francisco Giants for the first time in nearly six years beginning Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Angel Stadium.

Both teams are looking to turn things around in their first interleague series of the season, especially on the offensive end.

The Giants (7-11) have dropped five of their past six following a 3-1 loss at the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night. The offense combined for four runs while losing two of three to the Diamondbacks. San Francisco is hitting a major league-worst .156 with runners in scoring position.

“That’s not going to cut it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters after the latest loss.

The Angels (13-6) got off to their best 16-game start in franchise history, but an even hotter Boston Red Sox team came to Anaheim and overpowered Los Angeles in a three-game sweep. The Angels were outscored 27-3 in the series.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia wasn’t overly concerned after an 8-2 loss in the series finale on Thursday night.

“Of all the components of our team right now, I think we’re most secure in the fact that we feel we’re going to score runs,” Scioscia said. “We didn’t show it this series but I think, over the long haul, we have a deep offensive club that’s going to be there all year for us.”

San Francisco will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija to the mound in his season debut. He was diagnosed with a strained right pectoral muscle about a week before the season opener and put on the disabled list.

Samardzija went 9-15 with a 4.42 ERA in 207 2/3 innings last season. He allowed a career-high 30 home runs, but also struck out 214 batters, second-most in his big league career.

Samardzija had a rocky performance in his only rehab start. Pitching for the Class A San Jose Giants on Saturday night, he allowed six runs in the first inning, four on a grand slam. He settled in and retired six of the final seven batters before departing after 2 2/3 innings.

Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News that he was encouraged by Samardzija’s last two innings.

“He struck out the last five or last five out of six,” Bochy said. “Command was good. Velocity was good. He came out of it fine and he took a very extended bullpen here, so that’s why we’re convinced he’s good to go.”

Samardzija pitched exceptionally well in two previous starts at Angel Stadium, but has nothing to show for his efforts.

In his most recent outing against Los Angeles on Aug. 19, 2015, he allowed one run and eight hits over seven innings for the Chicago White Sox, but was out-dueled by Jered Weaver and two relievers in the 1-0 loss.

A year earlier while pitching for the Oakland A’s, he threw an eight-inning complete game at Angel Stadium, but eight Los Angeles pitchers combined for a 2-0 shutout.

Overall, he’s 1-3 in his career against the Angels with a 3.71 ERA in four starts.

Angels starter Andrew Heaney (0-0, 5.40) also had his season debut pushed back. He was shut down about a week before the season opener because of inflammation in his throwing elbow. He had Tommy John surgery in July of 2016.

He’ll make his second start of the season after pitching five innings at the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, allowing four runs (three earned), seven hits and striking out seven in the 5-4 win.

Heaney has never faced the Giants in his career. He’s 1-4 in interleague play with a 5.16 ERA.

Fantasy Baseball: Ranking the top 30 DL stashes with Jeff Samardzija and Drew Pomeranz set to return

Fantasy Baseball: Ranking the top 30 DL stashes with Jeff Samardzija and Drew Pomeranz set to return

More Fantasy Baseball: 8 who are Fool’s Gold 

Remember my criteria for DL stashability? In order, it’s …

  1. How good is the player?
  2. What’s the timetable?
  3. How likely is the injury to impact his performance?

That order will be put to the test Friday, though, with Jeff Samardzija and Drew Pomeranz each set to make his 2017 debut. So while the inspiration for these rankings was having too few DL spots for all the injured players, it doesn’t get any easier once they’re off the DL. The roster crunch gets even crunchier.

Those two aren’t the only ones looking at a weekend return. Mike Zunino is also expected back Friday, with Wil Myers, Salvador Perez and Manuel Margot following close behind. Even Delino DeShields has put his name out there, potentially beating his timetable by 2-4 weeks.

These rankings, though, take into account those timetables, which is revealing in its own way. If a practically healed Margot still ranks behind Eugenio Suarez, Greg Bird, Jimmy Nelson and Ervin Santana, all of whom are still weeks away from returning, then he might not be so deserving of a bench spot when he returns, especially if you’ve had trouble committing to any of those four in a DL spot.

Given how long you’ve stashed Pomeranz, it’s possible you’ve built an impressive enough stable of arms in the meantime — adding every Joey Lucchesi, Reynaldo Lopez and Jake Junis who emerged on the waiver wire — that you’ll really need to see something from him to justify dropping someone else. And that’s OK. I mean, it’s not ideal — even in a 10-team league, chances are somebody in your league could use Pomeranz — but roster limits don’t exist to make your life easy. When forced to forfeit assets in response, sometimes you realize that DL stay was a blessing in disguise. Sometimes the one coming off the DL should be the one to go.

But not the top 11 here. They’re undroppable no matter how shallow the format.

Top DL stashes
Stratton, Belt lead Giants to 'great team win'

Stratton, Belt lead Giants to 'great team win'

PHOENIX – Madison Bumgarner walked through the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon with the yellow ends of three pins sticking out of his left hand. It is a gruesome sight he has gotten used to, but that should end Thursday. 

Bumgarner is very confident that the pins, which are stabilizing his fractured metacarpal, will be removed during a doctor’s visit on Thursday. That would begin the next step in the rehab process, and could have Bumgarner back with the Giants by the last week of May. 

PHOENIX – Madison Bumgarner walked through the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon with the yellow ends of three pins sticking out of his left hand. It is a gruesome sight he has gotten used to, but that should end Thursday. 

Bumgarner is very confident that the pins, which are stabilizing his fractured metacarpal, will be removed during a doctor’s visit on Thursday. That would begin the next step in the rehab process, and could have Bumgarner back with the Giants by the last week of May. 

It is hard to watch them most nights and see how they will be in contention when their ace gets back. But then there are nights like Wednesday, when Chris Stratton offered a reminder that perhaps this franchise can once again win behind a strong starting staff. 

The 27-year-old allowed one run in seven innings of a 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks, lowering his ERA to 2.22. A night earlier, Johnny Cueto walked off the mound with a 0.45 ERA and 0.65 WHIP.

The final four innings were also a reminder, of course, that it takes much more than a stellar start. The offense is still not clicking, although Brandon Belt‘s two-run shot in the 10th proved the difference. The bullpen is showing cracks, but three different relievers kept a crucial runner at third in three straight innings. 

There are plenty of issues for this 7-10 team, but perhaps they can be papered over if the rotation can charge to the finish line behind Bumgarner, Cueto, Stratton, who looks ready to take the next step in his career, and Jeff Samardzija, who returns Friday. In two starts on this trip, Stratton has allowed one run over 14 innings. 

“He’s been pretty spectacular,” Belt said. “The poise he has on the mound, there’s no situation that’s too big for him.”

That includes facing Paul Goldschmidt. Twice, Stratton had one of the best hitters in the National League fooled. He struck him out looking in their first two battles. 

“A 3-2 slider (the first time) and it looked like he was looking for something else,” Stratton said. “The next time we went to the two-seamer in and he wasn’t looking for that as well. He’s a great hitter. You’ve got to mix it up with him.”

Stratton can now apparently do that at will. His four-pitch mix has been overwhelming this season, and he appears here to stay as part of a rotation that could eventually be pretty strong. But there will need to be help from other corners. 

Belt and Evan Longoria provided it Wednesday. Longoria kept up his torrid pace of late, hitting a two-run homer early. After Hunter Strickland blew a lead in the ninth, Belt hit a towering two-run shot in the 10th. It was his 100th as a big leaguer. 

“I totally forgot about it,” he said. “They told me after the game. I guess that’s a pretty good way to get your 100th homer.”

The Giants quickly tracked the ball down and Belt handed it over to his mom, who made the trip from Texas. Then he joined his teammates in the dining room, discussing a night that on several occasions could have continued a downward spiral. 

Tony Watson left the tying run on third with no outs in the eighth. Strickland left the winning run on third with one out in the ninth. Cory Gearrin left them loaded in the 10th. 

“It was a great team win,” Watson said. “Lots of guys did big things. That was a big one for us.”