Giants split; beat Brewers, fall to Angels

698594.jpg

Giants split; beat Brewers, fall to Angels

BOX SCORE
SCOTTSDALE -- Barry Zito is happy with the progress he's made so far this spring.He allowed one hit in three scoreless innings and the San Francisco Giants earned a 13-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in a split-squad game on Saturday.The left-hander threw 30 strikes out of 45 pitches.Zito, who made some changes to his delivery over the winter, said he didn't feel quite as good as the results today, but he's had a strong spring. He's given up two runs in five innings."Every day I'm trying to take it one day at a time, and not get ahead of myself," Zito said.Pablo Sandoval doubled and homered in the Giants' eight-run third inning. It was his first homer of the spring.The Giants had 16 hits, including three homers. Prospect Tommy Joseph hit two homers and drove in four runs.NEWS: Wilson set to make Cactus League debut Sunday
Milwaukee's Mat Gamel, who is taking over at first this season after the departure of Prince Fielder, hit his third homer of the spring, a three-run shot in the fourth inning.Also, Milwaukee's Nyjer Morgan left the game in the second inning as a precaution after he was hit in the helmet by a pitch in the first.Shortstop Brandon Crawford doubled and tripled and had 3 RBIs for San Francisco. He's 6-for-14 with six RBIs this spring."I think really he's going to help contribute to this offense," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He made a couple adjustments with his swing. He's shortened it up. It allows him to get to balls he wasn't able to get to before."RELATED: Zito self-critical despite improvement in second start
Crawford batted .204 as a rookie last year. But that swing adjustment he made late in the regular season also carried over to the Arizona Fall League.And now he's off to a strong start in the spring."I've played well the last couple of seasons whenever I've made that small change, and I'm doing well here to start out," he said. "It's definitely good for the confidence."Notes: San Francisco's Buster Posey reported feeling fine a day after his first game action of the spring. Posey is scheduled to start again on Sunday, catching four innings. Posey missed most of last season after injuring his left knee in a home plate collision. ... Reliever Brian Wilson is scheduled to make his spring debut on Sunday. Wilson has been out because of a sore elbow. ... Freddy Sanchez will not make his spring debut in the field until Wednesday or Thursday. Bochy had said on Friday that Sanchez could play second as soon as Monday, but the manager said he was mistaken and that the plan was never for Sanchez to play that soon. ... Wily Peralta, considered the top prospect in the Brewers' system, gave up four runs in 2 13 innings in his first start of the spring. ... Caleb Gindl had two hits to raise his spring average to .417.
BOX SCORETEMPE -- The Los Angeles Angels are going to try Mark Trumbo at a couple different spots so they can get his bat into their powerful lineup.It looks as if third base could be an option.Trumbo made a splendid diving grab to his left in the second inning Saturday, robbing Joaquin Arias of a single during the Angels' 9-5 victory over a split-squad of San Francisco Giants."You don't call it the hot corner for nothing," Trumbo said.Trumbo also homered and C.J. Wilson pitched three scoreless innings in his second spring outing for Los Angeles, which gave the left-hander a 77.5 million, five-year deal during free agency over the winter. Wilson allowed one hit, struck out two and walked one.With Albert Pujols set to play first and first baseman-designated hitter Kendrys Morales expected to return to the lineup soon, the Angels are searching for ways to find time for Trumbo. He led the team with 29 homers and 87 RBIs during his rookie year last season.NEWS: Freddy Sanchez's defensive debut delayed
The plan is for Trumbo to play in 50 games at third to go along with time at first, DH and right field.Trumbo, who had yet to have a ball hit to him in one start at third, made a great play on Arias' ball and also handled one ground ball flawlessly."More challenging plays will help me get my confidence," Trumbo said. "Some of that stuff will take some time."Peter Bourjos and Erick Aybar, hitting first and second respectively, utilized their speed to set up a pair of Angels run in the first.Bourjos bounced a single to right field and Aybar followed with a sharp single to right. Bourjos opted to test the throwing arm of Giants right fielder Tyler Graham and raced to third. Graham's throw was slightly late and Aybar took second.Bourjos then scored in Howie Kendrick's fly ball to right field with Aybar taking third. Aybar then narrowly scored on Trumbo's foul popup behind third, beating Conor Gillaspie's throw that short-hopped catcher Eli Whiteside.Angels manager Mike Scioscia has said this spring that he could "mix and match" a set of players to hit in front of Pujols in the third slot but is hoping to settle on two.Bourjos has been mentioned as a leadoff candidate. He hit .289 and had a .337 on-base percentage against left-handers last season while hitting .271 overall with a .327 on-base percentage.Aybar, the team's usual leadoff man last season, hit .279 with a .322 on-base percentage, but only .216 with a .284 on-base percentage against left-handers.Giants right-hander Shane Loux pitched 2 1-3 innings and was charged with three runs, two earned, and four hits. He hasn't appeared in the majors since he went 2-3 with a 5.86 ERA in 18 games with the Angels in 2009.NOTES: Angels 3B Luis Jimenez also hit his first spring homer. ... Angels reliever LaTroy Hawkins made his first spring appearance and gave up three runs and four hits in one inning.

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.