THE BUZZ: Buster, Harbaugh, Pitt


THE BUZZ: Buster, Harbaugh, Pitt

1. Buster Posey is not supposed to block the plate this season. Thats what the Giants say. But can you ask a catcher not to do something that hes already been trained to do? The Minnesota Twins dont think so. Theyve told Joe Mauer to go ahead and block the plate because its part of the business. The collision is coming. Brace yourself.

2. Andrew Luck doesnt need to hire a publicist. Not while Jim Harbaugh is in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine gushing about Luck to anyone who will listen. Harbaugh didnt go to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl but is there this week. He took a side trip to Bloomington to sit on the Indiana bench and act as a manager for his brother-in-law, Hoosiers coach Tom Crean. Harbaugh folded and unfolded chairs for time outs to the delight of observers.3. Jeremy Lin was humbled by the Miami Heat on Thursday. He looks like a guy who could use a break from the spotlight this weekend, maybe even sleeping in that fancy new apartment hes reportedly moved into the one that has a view of the Statue of Liberty. But instead hell be in Orlando for the Rising Stars Challenge, coached by Shaq. Lins impact can be felt everywhere. On Friday morning Kwame Brown was a trending topic in the Bay Area. Why? Because he was signed after the Warriors cut Lin.
4. Ryan Braun won his appeal for violating baseballs drug policy and wont have to serve a suspension. MLB drug testers must either be too young to remember the OJ Simpson trial or are just plain stupid. DNA evidence in the Simpson trial was tainted when police forensic scientist Andrea Mazzola admitted to carrying a vial of Simpsons blood around in her lab coat. A MLB tester did the equivalent, taking Brauns urine home instead of sending it to the lab. This is how you run a billion dollar business? Sticking the urine on the shelf with the mayonnaise?
5. Billy Beane will take off the flip flops and khaki shorts on Sunday and don a tuxedo for the Academy Awards. Hell walk to red carpet to support Brad Pitt, telling the Chronicle Its got nothing to do with me. Except, of course, it has everything to do with Billy. Without him, theres no movie. Dont know if Pitt will win George Clooney seems to be the favorite. But bet on Moneyball to win Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zailian did what few thought possible, turning Michael Lewis book into a very entertaining film.
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Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away. 

They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them. 

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line. 

The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts. 

Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres. 

“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”

Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2. 

Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated. 

“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres


SAN FRANCISCO — A day after he did his press conference from a “Game of Thrones” throne, manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy the Giants won their series finale against the Indians and kept that plan in play. In that respect, he’s lucky his team wasn’t facing the Padres on Wednesday. 

The Giants were on Thursday, however, and they continued their baffling stretch of ineptitude against what is supposed to be the worst team in the National League West. The 5-2 loss to San Diego was the 15th in the last 20 meetings between the two teams, one of which has a $200 million payroll and the other of which is actively tanking. 

The Giants had a shot at a comeback in the eighth, but Buster Posey flied out to right with two outs and the bases loaded. Here are five things to know, if you are the curious type: 

—- Madison Bumgarner has faced the Padres twice since returning. In 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs. He is getting hurt by a familiar problem for the 2017 Giants: The Padres have four homers off Bumgarner in those two starts. Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg took him deep Thursday, with Spangenberg hitting one out to the deepest part of the yard on Bumgarner’s final pitch. 

—- This is the first time in Bumgarner’s career that he has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back starts. 

—- Kyle Crick showed good stuff — sitting 96-97 — while stranding a runner on second in the eighth. He followed that with a scoreless ninth. The Giants should make it a priority to throw him into some deeper water over the next two months. 

—- There’s an epidemic these days of outfielders making foolish throws to the plate. We see it just about every night, and it cost the Padres in the sixth. Gorkys Hernandez was on second and he took off right away on Denard Span’s single to right. Renfroe had no play at the plate but he threw it anyway and Span took second. He scored when Eduardo Nuñez singled to left. 

—- The Giants announced their second consecutive sellout. That’s a streak. Maybe?