Giants not necessarily 'showcasing' Schierholtz

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Giants not necessarily 'showcasing' Schierholtz

PHILADELPHIA -- The Giants aren't necessarily looking to trade Nate Schierholtz, even though he's made it clear he would welcome a fresh opportunity elsewhere.

That's not to state Schierholtz won't be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline. He's a useful player and other clubs will be sure to inquire about his availability. Maybe it'll take parting with Schierholtz, by himself or as part of a package, to bring in someone who could impact the team in another way.

But I can tell you this much, as the Giants take the field on a pleasant Saturday afternoon in Philly: Schierholtz isn't in the lineup because GM Brian Sabean wants to showcase him.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy is sitting Gregor Blanco against a left-hander, as has become the fashion. Instead of Justin Christian, Bochy is going with Schierholtz because he's 4-for-6 against Phillies starter Cole Hamels. And as Bochy pointed out, Hamels is tough on lefties and righties alike. It's a decision that makes pretty good baseball sense.

Plus Bochy liked Schierholtz's at-bats the previous night, when he started in place of struggling outfielder Angel Pagan.

Sure, Schierholtz hasn't played nearly as much as he hoped. He's on pace for just 248 at-bats this season, which is almost 100 fewer than last year. It's understandable that a 28-year-old outfielder would feel a sense of urgency to get an everyday opportunity, through hot streaks and cold streaks, to get his career going while his window is still open.

For now, though, he is not just hanging onto a roster spot. If Pagan continues to struggle against right-handers, Schierholtz's time could pick up. And there's always the chance someone could get hurt. Depth is a good thing to have.

So don't assume that Schierholtz is playing his last two weeks as a Giant.

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Aubrey Huff's MRI exam showed patellar tendinitis in his left knee. He'll rest over the weekend and be reevaluated.

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Brandon Crawford, who hit a grand slam as part of a five-RBI night, is out of the lineup against Hamels. Joaquin Arias is at shortstop instead, and Brandon Belt is starting in the No. 8 spot for the first time all season (second time in his career).

NEWS: Giants lineup -- Arias, Belt in

Feel free to argue the baseball sense of those decisions to your heart's content.

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”

Instant Analysis: Giants bats silenced, losing streak now at four games

Instant Analysis: Giants bats silenced, losing streak now at four games

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The return to AT&T Park was a huge boost to Matt Cain, who has wild home-road splits this season, but it did predictable things to an already-limp Giants offense. 

The Giants entered the night as the lowest-scoring team in the National League and they got blanked 2-0 by Jaime Garcia and the Braves. Garcia out-dueled Cain and provided the only offense of the night, as well. The Giants have dropped five of six.

Here are five things to know from AT&T Park, where they keep having Star Wars Night but they’ve never once celebrated Super Troopers … 

--- Cain entered the seventh with a 0.94 ERA at home this season, but the opposing pitcher busted him. With one on and two outs, the Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, a career .145 hitter. He bounced a single into shallow left and it looked like Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw home hit the runner. That allowed Swanson to race home for a 2-0 lead. 

--- Cain’s final line: seven innings, one earned run, one walk, three strikeouts. Yep, that’s a Caining.

--- Justin Ruggiano is here for the opportunity he was given in the sixth. Ruggiano has always crushed lefties, and Bruce Bochy put him behind Buster Posey on Friday night. The Braves intentionally walked Posey to load the bases for Ruggiano, who grounded out to third. Even the platoon splits are failing the Giants. 

--- If you need a little perspective on Christian Arroyo’s struggles, look across the field. Swanson, the former No. 1 overall pick, is batting .198. The shortstop slashed .302/.361/.442 as a rookie but his numbers are way down across the board, and he’s nearly two years older than Arroyo. These things take time. Having said that, Arroyo’s hole is pretty deep. He’s hitless in his last 21 at-bats after an 0 for 3.

--- There were three no-pitch intentional walks. I hope you used the extra ninety seconds wisely.