Bumgarner looks to break through vs. Pirates


Bumgarner looks to break through vs. Pirates

April 27, 2011

GIANTS (11-11) vs.

Coverage begins at 3:30 P.M. at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants didn't need to generate much at the plate to end their longest slide of the season. The reigning World Series champions may be in for a better offensive effort Wednesday night.

The Giants look to continue their success against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle game of this series at PNC Park.

San Francisco (11-11) ended a four-game skid after Darren Ford raced home on a fielder's choice in the 10th inning in a 3-2 win at Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Ford put himself in position when he went from first to third on an errant pickoff attempt, then scored when second baseman Neil Walker fielded a grounder and lobbed the ball to first.

REWIND: Giants ride Ford's speed to win over Pirates

"There's no fear in him; he's not afraid to make a mistake, and that's what you love about him," manager Bruce Bochy said of Ford. "I tell you what, that was one of the most impressive displays of speed I've seen on a baseball field."

The run capped a win that saw all of the Giants' scoring done on plays that didn't count as hits.

San Francisco's lineup has struggled over the last five games, hitting .196 with one homer, seven walks and 42 strikeouts.
RELATED: Giants stats page

While the Giants managed seven hits Tuesday, they could be in for a better performance as the series continues. They've won nine of the past 11 meetings with Pittsburgh (10-13) while hitting .284 with 33 doubles and nine homers.

Pablo Sandoval has been a big part of that with a .377 average and 11 RBIs over his last 15 matchups with the Pirates, assisting San Francisco to wins in 11 of them.

He got two hits for a second consecutive game Tuesday, as he continues to be the Giants' top offensive threat, compiling a .329 average with five homers while driving in 13 runs.

The Giants may need Sandoval to continue his hot hitting, as they give Madison Bumgarner (0-3, 7.79 ERA) the ball after he matched the shortest start of his career in Friday's 4-1 loss to Atlanta.

REWIND: Bumgarner lasts just 2-23 innings, Giants fall to Atlanta

The left-hander allowed four runs in 2 2-3 innings against the Braves and continues to search for his first win since Game 4 of the World Series.

While Bumgarner's ERA is the highest of any member of the San Francisco rotation, James McDonald (0-2, 10.13) owns the most bloated on the Pirates.

The right-hander has served up five homers over his last three games, with two coming Thursday while surrendering eight runs in three innings of a 9-5 loss at Florida.

His performances this season have been a major letdown after he went 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 11 starts last year after Pittsburgh acquired him in a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"He needs to pitch," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's official website. "I don't think he's been pitching. There's been more throwing going on. The emphasis on mechanics - yes, he needs to tighten things up - but he needs to pound the bottom of the zone. You've got to pound the bottom of the zone, and the curveball needs to be sharp and tightened up."

McDonald didn't fare well in his only start against the Giants on July 19, allowing four runs and nine hits - one homer - in five innings of a 5-2 loss to Bumgarner while with Los Angeles.

He's also struggled versus Sandoval, who is 3 for 7 with a double in the matchup.

Prior to Game 4, Blazers send well wishes to Steve Kerr

Prior to Game 4, Blazers send well wishes to Steve Kerr

Even in the midst of a contentious playoff series, the Blazers took a moment to send their regards to ailing Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

A little over 30 minutes before tip-off of Game 4 in Portland, the Blazers tweeted out a photo of Kerr from his days as Blazer with the message "Get well soon, Coach!"

Kerr, who played for six teams during his 15-year NBA career, spent the 2001-02 season in Portland.

On Sunday, Kerr announced that he would be stepping away from coaching after sympthoms from his back surgeries resurfaced. Assistant coach Mike Brown, who coached the Warriors in Game 3, will serve as interim coach.


Christian Arroyo Era kicks off early after third baseman's red-hot start

Christian Arroyo Era kicks off early after third baseman's red-hot start

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants threw Christian Arroyo right into the fire. He’ll bat sixth on Monday in the season’s first meeting with the rival Dodgers, and while it’s grossly unfair, Arroyo will shoulder massive expectations given the way this season has started.

All of that should be a piece of cake given what Arroyo did early Monday afternoon. The 21-year-old convinced a skeptical mother that he was telling her the truth. 

Arroyo found out around 1:30 p.m. that his dream of reaching the big leagues had been accomplished. After shedding a few tears in Triple-A manager Dave Brundage’s office and getting congratulated by teammates, he called his mom, Kimberly. 

“She didn’t believe me,” he said, smiling. “I took a solid five minutes for her to believe me. She kept going, ‘You’re lying.’”

Arroyo’s mother is headed over from Florida, and she’ll be in the stands with other family members for Tuesday night’s game. The plan is for Arroyo to be at third base against Clayton Kershaw. The plan is for him to be at third base for years to come. 

The Giants hoped Arroyo, who doesn’t turn 22 until next month, would spend a whole season in Triple-A, dealing with the occasional failures and conditioning his body for the grind of the Major Leagues. But two things happened when Arroyo reached Triple-A after another solid spring: He hit the cover off the ball, picking up 29 hits in 65 at-bats (including four on Sunday) and the team slumped to a 6-13 record. 

Was this a case of the Giants needing a spark or Arroyo forcing his way into the lineup?

“Both,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Certainly with what he was doing down in Sacramento, he opened up a lot of eyes and we have a need right now. We’re challenged offensively. We need another guy to help out and the way he was swinging the bat made us push him more quickly than we were thinking about.”

Bochy said Arroyo will mostly play third, although he can also handle short and second. Eduardo Nuñez, the incumbent, will play primarily left field and hopefully fill the gaping hole there. Nuñez will also move around, and he is likely to play shortstop this week when Brandon Crawford goes on bereavement leave. 

The Giants are coming off a 1-4 road trip where they scored just 10 runs. There will be pressure on the top prospect to help turn this around, but Bochy doesn’t think he’ll feel it.

“He’s a tough kid,” he said. “I had fun with him today, told him don’t be scared. He said, ‘I’m pumped.’ He’s excited to be here. He just needs to be himself.”

If Arroyo can keep doing that, he’ll be fine. The Giants have always viewed him as a huge cornerstone of their future, and that was again made clear on Monday. Arroyo was given No. 22 and tucked into a locker between Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Joe Panik is two lockers away. The hope is that the four lined up that way for years. 

“It’s surreal at this moment,” Arroyo said. “I’m trying to take it all in.”