Giants don't get away with any mistakes in AZ sweep

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Giants don't get away with any mistakes in AZ sweep

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PHOENIX The Arizona clay was so baked and so firm, BusterPosey couldnt tell if his foot was still touching the plate.

It was not. Everything in the seventh inning Sunday heck,everything in this season-opening series was not where the Giants needed itto be.

The Giants wore new alternate uniforms inspired by the 1980sand ended up in a time warp, all right. The Arizona Diamondbacks mixed jabswith haymakers while coming back from a six-run deficit against Matt Cain, thenscored the tiebreaking run when Poseys foot drifted off the dish on a forceplay and the Giants were stunned after a 7-6 loss swept them out of the SonoranDesert.

The Giants are 0-3 to begin a season for the first timesince 1984, when current announcer Duane Kuiper, not Cain, wore No.18.

The Diamondbacks, the defending NL West champions, droppedexclamation points over the fence while scoring 14 runs in 15 13 inningsagainst Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain. Manager Kirk Gibsonsconfident crew has now beaten the Giants eight consecutive times dating back tolast season, and 10 of the last 12.

So the Giants were left with two unfavorable subjects toponder on their flight to Denver: The myriad ways they let three one-run gamesget away from them, or the uncanny way that Arizonas hitters barreled up everymistake pitch.

One thing the Diamondbacks did all series if we mademistakes, they made us pay for them, Posey said.

Lincecum and Bumgarner made most of theirs in the firstinning. Cain didnt begin to miss badly until he had a big lead.

Whether they got to their pitch early or late, they got toit, said left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, who took the loss when he only retiredone of three batters in a calamitous seventh inning.

It just shows the game is not easy and were facing a goodoffensive team thats gotten better and better over the years. I think wevegot good enough pitching to equalize them, but we just didnt get it done.

The Giants started out well enough. Shortstop BrandonCrawfords first hit of the season also gave the club its first lead of 2012.His double in the second inning gave the Giants a 2-0 lead and Buster Poseymade it 6-0 in the third when his two-run home run carried near the swimmingpool in right-center.

Poseys Easter Sunday home run was his first in the bigleagues since April 24 of last season -- which also happened to be EasterSunday, strangely enough.

But the Giants quieted down as soon as right-hander JoshCollmenter departed, though a momentum stoppage they later would regret. Theyeven failed to capitalize when the Diamondbacks committed four errors over thefourth, fifth and sixth innings. Left-hander Wade Miley didnt allow a hit inhis four innings a troubling sign after the Giants struggled to pose a threatto any left-handed pitching this spring.

Still, the Giants had Cain on the mound and no cause foralarm. After all, they didnt blowa lead of larger than four runs all last season; the last time they blew a leadof six runs or more was July 28, 2010, to Florida and that game resulted in a10-9 victory.

Yet Lyle Overbay hit a two-run double in the fourth and Cainpaid for consecutive mistakes in the sixth. Ryan Roberts hit a two-run homerand Overbay followed with a solo shot to get the Diamondbacks within a run.

In both rallies, Miguel Montero drew a walk.

Middle, middle, said Cain, describing the two home runpitches. The two walks to Montero were obviously huge, too.

Cain didnt allow two home runs in any of his 33 starts lastseason. He served up just nine for the year. Arizona hit just one in 175 totalplate appearances against him.

Maybe the Diamondbacks were just overdue.

The thing about these guys, almost every one of em cantake you deep, Cain said. So youve got to focus on making pitches to all ofthem. Youve got to stay on your game and not let anything slip. That happenedtoday. I didnt make pitches when I needed to.

Neither did Affeldt or Santiago Casilla, who combined toload the bases in the seventh on a single and two walks. Left-hander JavierLopez got the ground ball that maanger Bruce Bochy wanted from Montero, ButCrawford backpedaled on the ball and couldnt make a clean stop as the tyingrun scored.

"I was trying to get the big hop and I just rushed myself,trying to get two instead of the one out, said Crawford, who was charged withan error.

Right-hander Sergio Romo got another badly needed groundball from Chris Young, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval threw wide to the plateand Posey couldnt keep his right foot from sliding. Umpire Mike DiMuroimmediately called Aaron Hill safe.

Posey did not argue. Bochy did, and got ejected.

I couldnt tell, to be honest, Bochy said. I got wordfrom somebody in the dugout he was on home plate and I lost it. Looking at it,(DiMuro) was right. Its a natural reaction.

Posey was charged with his third error of the series. Healso made a weak throw to second base earlier in the game, and failed to securea foul pop near the screen.

He said he kept his right foot on the plate because thatshow he would stand on a force play as a first baseman not to protect hissurgically repaired left ankle.

As hard as the ground is there, I couldnt feel where itwas, he said.

Now the Giants face an even harder reality. They must turn to Barry Zito, who threw battingpractice toward the end of the spring, to prevent them from the first 0-4 startin the clubs San Francisco era. They havent been 0-4 to start a season since1950. Thats when Bill Rigney as a player, not a manager wore No.18, incase you were wondering.

At least a few current Giants were willing to look ahead,memorizing May 11-13 on the schedule. Thats when theyll return to ChaseField.

Well be back here in a month, said Crawford. And wellbe back.

Giants trade Chris Heston to Mariners

Giants trade Chris Heston to Mariners

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Faced with a crowded depth chart and a need for a roster spot, the Giants shipped right-hander Chris Heston to Seattle on Wednesday night.

The Mariners announced the deal shortly after 7pm PT on Wednesday.

Heston, who made 31 starts and threw a no-hitter for the Giants in 2015, would have been designated for assignment had a deal not gotten done. The Giants will receive a player to be named later. The move clears a 40-man roster spot for closer Mark Melancon, who signed Monday. 

Heston, 28, filled in after injuries to veterans in 2015 and posted a 3.95 ERA and 12 wins, one of which was a no-hitter in New York. He was a first-half savior for an unhealthy staff, going 9-5 with a 3.39 ERA in 18 starts before the All-Star break. The long season caught up to Heston down the stretch, and the Giants filled their rotation that December with free agents Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. 

Heston made just four appearances in 2016 after being moved to the bullpen. It was a transition that didn't quite take, and he ended up back in the minors, making 14 starts for the River Cats as he worked to regain some of the velocity that was lost when he dropped 15 pounds during offseason workouts. An oblique injury led to Heston being put on the 60-day DL in June and ultimately ended his season. 

This represents a needed fresh start for Heston, who was hopelessly blocked in the Giants’ system. The Giants acquired Matt Moore at the deadline and Ty Blach and Matt Cain will compete for the final rotation spot. Veteran Albert Suarez and top pitching prospect Tyler Beede are among the starters who had jumped ahead of Heston. In Seattle, he joins a team in need of starting depth, and he should get a shot to return to a big league rotation.

Kuiper has been told to expect many boring ninth innings from Melancon

Kuiper has been told to expect many boring ninth innings from Melancon

Over the last three seasons, nobody has registered more saves than new Giants closer Mark Melancon.

The three-time All-Star is 131 for 141 in save opportunities over that span.

Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper spoke with Nationals broadcaster F.P. Santangelo about what Melancon brings to the table.

"Mike (Krukow) and I both talked to F.P. and he basically said, 'He's boring. The ninth inning is boring.' And we were like, 'Really? Wow. We haven't seen that in awhile.' So a boring ninth inning would be good for everybody," Kuiper said on KNBR 680 on Wednesday. "Our fans, it would certainly be good for our manager and pitching coach because those two guys had to wear it."

[RELATED: Dusty Baker: 'I hate losing Melancon,' Giants have more resources than Nats]

The Giants blew 30 saves in 2016 -- the most in baseball -- and Giants GM Bobby Evans made it very clear from the moment the season ended that adding a closer was the team's top priority.

San Francisco is confident assimilating Melancon won't be an issue.

He looks like one of those guys who will fit into the clubhouse immediately," Kuiper said.