EXTRAS: Pagan stays hot, committee works, Bochy vs. Harbaugh, etc.

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EXTRAS: Pagan stays hot, committee works, Bochy vs. Harbaugh, etc.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Angel Pagan went 1-for-3 to extend his hitstreak to seven games while scoring the Giants first two runs in a 5-2 winover the Atlanta Braves Thursday.Giants manger Bruce Bochy experimented with other options in the leadoff spotand Pagan lower in the batting order, but its clear that the table-settingrole is Pagans moving forward.You feed off that guy, Bochy said. Hes leading off and what a job hes donesince hes assumed that leadoff spot. There are guys that get you going and setthe table and the tone and hes really picked up his game since hes gone tothe leadoff spot. Hes helped us so much getting these early runs, especiallydown in L.A.. And his defense and what hes doing at the plate, hes playing asgood ball as anybody.Since August 3, Pagan is hitting .366 with 23 runs scored, seven doubles, threetriples, two home runs, 12 RBIs, four steals and a 1110 KBB ratio. With the disgraced Melky Cabrera a long-shot to return to San Francisco as afree agent, fellow free-agent-to-be Pagan is definitely making a case to bere-signed by Giants GM Brian Sabean, as Insider Andrew Baggarly suggested lastweek.Pagan also had some issues earlier this season with bad jumps and taking poor routes to fly balls,but has been a lot better patrolling centerfield lately. He also made one ofthe best throws of the Giants season in Wednesdays series finale in LosAngeles.Bruce Bochy said he has four closer types in his bullpen.The group he is referring to includes two lefties, Javier Lopez and JeremyAffeldt, and two righties, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo.Casilla was unavailable Thursday after pitching on back-to-back days Tuesdayand Wednesday against the Dodgers. Asked before the game if Casilla could takeback sole possession of the closer role, Bochy simply said hes now part of thecommittee. Every other member of the committee had to work in the ninth inningThursday, and despite Affeldts struggles, it worked.Lopez didnt get the save, but he got one of the biggest outs of the game whenhe struck out the potential tying run in Brian McCann.Hes throwing great, Bochy said of Lopez. Thats a bigout for us against a tough hitter. If he doesnt get that out, then the gamesgoing to get real tight at that time. Hes throwing probably as well as hesthrown. And thats saying a lot because hes done a great job with us.Everybody goes through their ups and downs, but hes really locating andpitching well with a lot of confidence right now and got a huge out there.Romo ended up with the save in the box score, and it was well deserved afterthe Braves had 2010 Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Heyward waiting topinch-hit and representing the tying run. Heyward avoided being doubled-up toend the game, but was still clearly the tougher assignment for Romo compared toJuan Francisco, the eventual final out.I respect that man (Heyward) and what hes able to do in the batters box so Iwent out there with my best stuff and was able to get a ground ball andeventually was able to save the game, Romo said. Really happy I was able todo that.Hector Sanchez has been in a prolonged slump since returning from the disabledlist August 2, including 10 straight hitless at-bats heading into Thursdaysgame. Bochy even said Sanchezs teammates were making fun of him for having ahole in his bat of late. Sanchez quieted his teammates and impressed his skipper with atwo-double, two-RBI game against the Braves.A great game all around, Bochy said of his young backstop.He caught well. Him and Z were in synch. Hes caught Z a lot and the bat camearound tonight. We were giving him a hard time that he had a hole in it in L.A.but hes a good hitter. I think getting some at-bats here with Buster Poseyneeding some rest has been good for Hector. Tonight he really came through withsome big hits and had some better at-bats and it looks like hes got his timingback.Sanchez was asked after the game if it was one of his best in the big leagues.For me, every game is amazing, Sanchez said. Its important for me,especially my first year with the team. I just try and do my job. I just tryand do my best, especially with men in scoring position.Sergio Romo was sporting a red and gold winter ear-flap hatwith a 49ers logo at his locker after the game.Romo told reporters he was a big fan of all things Bay Area, including the49ers, and that he went to a few games at Candlestick Park last season. He alsosaid he plans to attend a few games this year as well, baseball schedulepermitting, of course.I asked Romo, clearly a fan of what Jim Harbaugh has done with the team, whowould win a chess game between Harbaugh and Bochy.Romo surprised the media scrum by going with Harbaugh over his own skipper. Hementioned something about Stanford education, even though Harbaugh went toschool at Michigan and only coached at Stanford.Maybe Romo knows something we dont about Harbaugh sitting in on classes downon The Farm during his tenure there.No word on whether a Bochy vs. Harbaugh chess game can bearranged with one season ending and the other just about to get underway.

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

DENVER — Bruce Bochy watched the first two games of this road trip from his home in San Diego and the final three from the top step of the dugout at Coors Field. He did not like what he saw, but at the moment he’s more concerned with what he might hear. 

“What you have to careful of — you can’t let any kind of complacency set in and say, ‘It’s early, we’ll be ok.’ I don’t want to hear that either,” Bochy said. “It’s the old adage that you come out with some sense of urgency. All these games are important. You’ve got to stay away from that attitude, too: ‘We’re not through April yet and have 140-something games left.’ That doesn’t work out.”

Three weeks into the season, nothing is working. The rotation has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the Majors. The lineup scored 10 runs over a five-game road trip and got shut out twice. The bullpen hasn’t been given many leads with which to make up for the first-week trouble. The defense has been uncharacteristically sloppy. 

It has added up to a 6-13 start, tied for the worst in club history. The Giants have lost six of seven and they’ll head home seven games out of first place. 

“Right now there’s nothing clicking,” Bochy said. “Let’s be honest, this has been a rough start and we’re not very good right now. I’m not saying we’re not very good. We are good, but we’ve got to find a way to come out of this. This was a tough way to end this series. We’ve been through it. I’ve got men out there and that’s when you find a way to get through this. They will.”

Perhaps Monday will bring some fresh blood for the roster. Drew Stubbs appears poised to give the Giants another veteran option should they cut bait with a struggling outfielder. Michael Morse could be an option in left field soon, and if he’s mostly relegated to first, the Giants can put Brandon Belt in the outfield. He looked fine there Sunday while playing both corner spots. 

Those are moves made around the edges of the roster, though. There is no magic bullet coming from the outside, not even Christian Arroyo, who continues to mash at Triple-A. This is a $200 million roster and much of that has been spent on the rotation. Through 13 games, it is the worst in the National League, and the ace was lost to an off-field accident. Sure, the starters have pitched at Chase Field and Coors Field, but on back-to-back days they were dominated by Rockies rookies who make a living here. 

Samardzija could not keep pace with left-hander Kyle Freeland, who sawed off a handful of bats while cruising through seven. Samardzjiza gave up a run early, two more in the fourth on a hanging splitter that was blasted to right, and five in the sixth.

Bochy challenged his starting staff to improve after Saturday’s game. He has not publicly done the same with the lineup, but subtle changes have been made here and there. It is a group that, outside of a couple of players, has lacked energy. Because they don’t hit for power, the Giants are reliant on stringing together rallies. For the fourth time in seven games, the lineup failed to put a runner on base the first time through the order. 

“Even in spring training we had our games where we had trouble getting something going early,” Bochy said. “It’s the fourth or fifth before a hit. Somehow, we’ve got to change that.”

The Giants played Sunday without Jarrett Parker (clavicle) and Denard Span (right shoulder sprain), but for the most part the lineup is healthy. Bochy said he has talked to hitting coach Hensley Meulens about possibly altering pre-game routines, but that seems a cosmetic fix. 

“We’ve talked and we’ve shaken up the lineup, but as you saw today, there’s only so much you can do,” he said. 

Bochy knows there is outside noise regarding the roster. His eyes bulged the other day when asked if Arroyo would get a call-up next week. The Giants do not feel he is quite ready, or that there is a spot for him on the infield. For all the potential bench options waiting at Triple-A, this team's core is set, and it’s not outrageously banged-up compared to the rest of the division. 

The Dodgers, who come into town Monday, have 10 players on the disabled list, including No. 2 starter Rich Hill, second baseman Logan Forsythe, and left fielder Andre Ethier. The Rockies, the best team in the NL West thus far, are off to this start without big offseason acquisition Ian Desmond and young slugger David Dahl. Jon Gray, their opening day starter, went on the DL after facing the Giants in San Francisco. Chad Bettis, a rotation member, is getting treatment for testicular cancer. 

This division is better than expected, and as the end of April approaches, the Giants are bringing up the rear. Bochy’s plea for urgency was one that would have fit right in with last season’s second half. Back then, the Giants could at least lean on a huge start that got them into the postseason. As they flew home Sunday, there was nothing to fall back on but a simple truth.

This is the team. It must play better.

“We have everything we need in this room,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes you need to go out on the field and prove it.”

 

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Bruce Bochy spent about 10 minutes before Sunday’s game talking about potential options in left field and center. The problems for this lineup, however, currently go much deeper than the outfield. 

A day after the Giants managed just four hits off Antonio Senzatela, the bats went completely limp against fellow Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland. The Giants were shut out 8-0, a rarity at Coors Field. They were blanked twice on the road trip and scored just 10 runs during a five-game swing through Kansas City and Denver. 

The sweep at Coors Field was the Giants' first since 2002. At 6-13, they have the worst record in the National League.

For the fourth time in seven games, and third time on this five-game road trip, the Giants went one time through the order without a baserunner. That puts added pressure on your starter, and Jeff Samardzija couldn’t keep it close. Charlie Blackmon hit a leadoff liner to right that was misplayed into a triple and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Gerardo Parra got a spinner down in the zone in the fourth and blasted a two-run shot to right. 

As they did Saturday night, the Rockies pulled away with a huge rally. Nolan Arenado’s infield single and a walk of Carlos Gonzalez set the table in the sixth. Gerardo Parra lined a single to center and all runners advanced when Gorkys Hernandez kicked it. Trevor Story’s single to right was bobbled by Hunter Pence and two more scored. Blackmon’s double made it 8-0.

Starting pitching report: Samardzija was charged with seven earned in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 7.40 ERA through four starts. The starting staff has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the majors. That won’t play, not when you’ve spent most of your resources the last two years on starters. 

Bullpen report: Hunter Strickland's Mullet had a scoreless debut. 

At the plate: Nope. 

In the field: Brandon Belt’s first start in left this season was rather uneventful. He caught a liner right at him in the first and came up inches short on a diving attempt in foul territory. Belt moved to right in the seventh inning. He had one previous inning there in the big leagues but he actually prefers right because it’s the same angle as his normal position. Belt gloved a liner right at him in the eighth. 

Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 42,011 human beings and one donkey, who was a menace. 

Up next: The first look at the Dodgers. The Giants will see Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and likely Julio Urias in the four-game series.