Giants back home for series with struggling Rockies

Giants back home for series with struggling Rockies

June 3, 2011

COLORADO (26-29) vs.
GIANTS (31-25)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants are glad Aubrey Huff snapped out of his slump in emphatic fashion.

That may also be a source of comfort for Matt Cain.

Huff looks to continue his success against the Colorado Rockies and give Cain some rare support in the opener of a three-game series in San Francisco on Friday night.

Huff is hitting .233 with eight homers and 30 RBIs this season. However, four of those home runs and seven RBIs have come in the last two games - both victories. It's a reminder of his .290 average, 26 homers and 86 RBIs in 2010, when he played a pivotal role in the Giants' run to their first World Series title in 56 years.

The first baseman went 4 for 5 with a career-high three homers Thursday, also matching a career best with six RBIs as the Giants (31-25) beat NL Central-leading St. Louis 12-7 to take three of four from the Cardinals.

REWIND: Huff's big night gives Giants win over Cardinals

Huff is batting .326 with seven homers in his last 25 games against Colorado (26-29).

"When Huffie gets going, he can carry the team. He did it last year," said Freddy Sanchez, who added a homer and four RBIs Thursday. "He's getting that confidence back and his swing is back.

"I don't think it's any coincidence that he's getting it going and we're getting going."

Cain (3-4, 3.88) will hope Huff, Sanchez and the Giants have some hits left in their bats after getting no runs of support while losing his last two starts. That's nothing new for Cain, for whom San Francisco has scored two runs or fewer in 78 of his 143 outings since the start of 2007.

The right-hander has a 3.58 ERA in four home starts, but has gotten five total runs of support in those games and has a 1-1 record to show for it.

Cain is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in three career home starts against the Rockies.

The Giants are 5-3 in the season series, including sweeping a three-game series at AT&T Park from May 6-8.

The Rockies are looking to begin June with consecutive victories after winning 3-0 at Los Angeles on Wednesday following a woeful 8-21 record in May.

"It's a new month, a new start for us." left fielder Carlos Gonzalez told the team's official website.

Colorado has dropped 11 of 14 on the road and is 1-2 on its current nine-game trip against NL West rivals, which concludes with three games at San Diego.

Juan Nicasio (1-0, 0.00) gets a second turn in the rotation after a dazzling major league debut in Saturday's 15-4 rout of St. Louis. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed one unearned run and scattered six hits in seven innings to earn the win and show why he's considered one of the Rockies' top pitching prospects.

"I'm excited because it's my second start in the big leagues, but I'm going to just try to make my pitches," Nicasio told the team's official website through an interpreter. "I'm not worried about what team I'm pitching against, just what I need to do.

"I'm going to try to make my pitch down in the zone. I always try to do that, throw down in the zone."

Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez have struggled against the Giants this season, batting .207 and .185, respectively.

Tulowitzki is 17 for 51 with four homers, four doubles and a triple off Cain, but Gonzalez is 3 for 25 with seven strikeouts.

The two sluggers combined to go 3 for 20 in the Rockies' last series at San Francisco.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.

 

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.